Indian TV channels on Saturday beamed a picture of what they said was a lizard sticking out of a bun served to a passenger on a Delhi-London flight of Air India, but the national carrier refuted the charge as “false and baseless”.
The TV channels picked up the picture from a tweet about the incident that reportedly occurred on Thursday when passengers were served the first meal shortly after flight AI 111 took off from Delhi.
A passenger who asked for a special meal began screaming after he received the tray, reports said. The picture beamed by TV channels showed a lizard protruding from a bun that was in the tray wrapped with cling film.
Reports said other passengers too refused to touch their meal.
In a statement, Air India said it had investigated the incident and “found it to be false and baseless”.
“No such complaint by any passenger of the flight has been received on board the flight or at the Air India office in London,” the statement said.
"Taking a serious view of the attempt to tarnish its reputation, Air India is investigating the source of the mischievous propaganda on the "Lizard in meal tray" subject. In the meanwhile, Air India would like to reassure its passengers and the media that it takes the utmost care in the choice, quality, hygiene and safety in its service of meals on board all Air India flights," the airline said.
The TV channels had reported that the cabin crew offered to replace the tray but the passenger involved in the incident refused and filed a complaint with Air India.
Earlier, civil aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju described the matter as “a serious issue”.
“Air India is not expected to serve lizards, nor are cooks expected to cook lizards," Raju was quoted as saying by ANI.
On Friday, an Air India flight to Goa had to return to Delhi after the aircraft’s air conditioner failed when it was at an altitude of 35,000 feet.