What do you get when you combine the bad reputation of airplane food with a very unlucky translation? China Eastern Airlines found out the answer to that question during a recent media storm, following a Facebook post from a business class passenger who had some questions when reading the menu he was given aboard. That menu not only included vanilla shrimp, stewed seafood and fried mushrooms, but also something described as “imported dog food”.
Conrad Wu, the business class traveller in question, posted a picture of the remarkable menu on Facebook on 11 November and has since amassed hundreds of comments and shares. The question accompanying the picture is quite simple: “What exactly is this?”
Some of the comments on the post referred to the bad influence of Google translate, while others guessed the airline might be talking about hot dogs – even though the word “imported” remains unaccounted for in that scenario. Another possible option is that the phrase might be an all-too-literal translation of a traditional Chinese dish. No matter the explanation, China Eastern Airlines has so far not answered to Conrad Wu’s question, or replied to The Independent’s request for comment.
Even though it might be one of the most shocking so far, it is not the first time airlines have made translation errors. Braniff Airlines, for example, when translating their ‘Fly In Leather’ first class campaign into Spanish, effectively made it sound like ‘Fly Naked’.
In a different unfortunate translation incident, an Azerbaijani tourist was arrested for bomb threat allegations in Lisbon at the end of October. Trying to order pomegranate juice, he accidentally ordered a grenade instead after the language app he was using confused the two words.