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Why Vegetarians Never Get Free Upgrades on Flights

A former Qantas flight attendant has claimed that passengers with special meal requests are confined to economy.

Vegetarians and vegans have a pretty hard time of it. Those following a meat-free lifestyle can find themselves single, overlooked by potential employees, and cheerleading for unpopular political figures. And that's before you even get onto the whole not-being-able-to-eat-bacon thing.

Today brought further bad news for those just looking to eat a plant-based diet in peace. According to a former flight attendant for Australian airline Qantas, passengers with special dietary requirements don't get free upgrades on flights.

Nik Loukas, the ex-flight attendant and plane food blogger (we can only imagine the tasting notes and food photography), told Business Insider: "If there's a special meal request in your booking, the airline won't even look at you [for an upgrade]. Because you've got a dietary requirement, and they might not be able to cater for you if they upgrade you."

Qantas, however, has denied the claims, telling The Daily Telegraph in a statement: "This is untrue and the type of meal our customers order has no bearing on their ability to be upgraded. If the upgrade is awarded, the special meal request will be provided in their new cabin."

It's not the first time that an airline has been accused of discriminating against those with special dietary requirements. Last year, a security manager for Swiss International Airlines suggested at a border security conference that data on passengers' meal preferences—including halal, vegetarian, and kosher—could be "interesting for certain authorities." The airline later clarified that "airlines are not allowed to transmit data which may convey the religion, health, political opinion of a passenger."

It's 2017, can we just have our tofu and complimentary Champagne already?