China Eastern Airlines have made an unfortunate translation blunder, handing out a food menu to their business class passengers that offered “dog food” with a side of Okra.
Chinese airlines have endured a year of relatively bad press — take this Chinese time traveller’s rant or their push to provide “less crashy” planes as prime examples — but a recent blunder from China Eastern has only made this situation worse after a translation error left English-speaking business class passengers a little concerned…
While they are far from the first airline to make a translation mistake, this may be one of the most unfortunate we’ve ever seen, playing into some of the most lowbrow stereotypes and prejudices out there. The menu, which was handed to business class flyers shortly after take off, offered “imported dog food” with a side of Okra as one of three equally delicious appetisers.
WATCH: Chinese ‘Time Traveller’ Cancels Flight After Prophetic Meltdown.
As is so often the case, credit for first spotting this error goes to Gary Leff over at View From The Wing who not only explains that the Shanghai-based China Eastern is part-owned by Delta Airlines and had grown to become the second-largest airline in Asia right up until the pandemic came crashing down on the industry but also goes on to highlight some other hilarious translation errors that have done accidental damage to brands…
“Pepsi’s ‘Come Alive! You’re In The Pepsi Generation’ was mistranslated in China as Pepsi will bring your dead ancestors back to life… and Purdue Chicken’s ‘It takes a strong man to make a tender chicken’ became it takes a virile man to make a chicken affectionate in Spanish…Gary Leff
Hilarious as these and China Eastern’s new addition to the pile may be, it’s worth noting that the remainder of China Eastern’s menu actually sounds quite tasty and that the airline has come on leaps and bounds in recent years offering improved seating, entertainment and amenities alongside better menus.
While it still may not quite be up to scratch with some of the business-class industry leaders — take Singapore Airlines or United’s new Polaris as good examples of the benchmark — the airline is making rapid and impressive progress for a relative newcomer to the sector.
It also recently made headlines for re-opening one of its most popular regional routes, Wuhan to Taipei, for the first time since the pandemic. In a move that shows how far behind us those very dark days of late 2019/early 2020 now seem, it’s good to see new carriers finding their feet and supplying some much-needed competition to some of the most dominant names in the industry.
However, as impressive as their growth may be, the prospect of dog food in business class is enough to put anyone off an airline, so I’d advise China Eastern to get an ad up for a new translator ASAP…