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Terror From Above: The Air Mos Burger

I love Japanese airlinesJAL and ANA and several other Asian airlines I’ve flown long distance – Thai Airways, Korean. I feel like they have consistent and excellent customer service, the planes tend to be new and well maintained. In contrast, my trans-Pacific flights with a couple of American airlines have been less than pleasant. How about 14 hours with just one main screen for movies? How about seats with broken monitors or lousy headphone jacks and almost threadbare seats with bad back support and collections of crud in the creases reminiscent of college couches? Never mind the crap food and the charges for baggage and alcoholic drinks and the occasional attitude problems. With the Asian airways coach can feel almost like first class. The attendant on Thai airways is asking me, “Are you SURE you don’t want more complimentary cognac or wine?” Well, let me finish my sushi and I’ll think about it.

I made a pained face once on ANA when I was told that as I was one of the last passengers to be served due to the misfortune of rows, there was only one selection available. I made no complaints, mind you, just a frown. Someone came round and offered to make me instant noodles or cobble together a few sides. Seriously? No, that’s fine I’ll take the fish anyway, but wow, thanks!

So I was pleased as punch this fall to be able to go to both United and American Airlines’ websites and book flights that were operated by their codeshare partners Korean and JAL respectively. But fair is fair, this last flight back from Tokyo with JAL came up just a little short on the food. Jokingly, I wondered if because it was booked via American there was a policy of matching bad food so as not to stir up trouble with the AA regulars.

So what was the offending moment?

Mos Burger is a Japanese fast-food hamburger chain. There is a problem with hamburgers outside the US, and I’ve remarked on this before and have allowed for some wonderful exceptional moments in places such as Bangkok (The Iron Fairies!) and Panama City (Jap Jap!). It’s a truly American dish, simple in its concept, but thanks to McDonald’s, completely fouled up in most other countries. Noting the nearly universal popularity of McDonald’s, most burgermakers try to copy what is already a pretty bad copy of a hamburger. A flattened, messed-with patty of what claims to be beef, but is seasoned in such a way that one can’t be sure (well done and yet not well done at the same time). Mos Burger (and I apologize to the Mos fans) is just more of the same tragic trend.

And how could you make that worse? Bring it onto a plane and serve it lukewarm several hours into a flight. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you…


Oh hell, I thought… And it came with instructions.

The Air Mos Burger comes with two sheets of sponge-like padding to absorb the grease that would otherwise soak into the bun during its hours of awaiting consumption.

And that handy and clever invention meant to evenly apply butter and syrup to fast-food pancakes works just as nicely when oozing terriyaki sauce and mayo onto an Air Mos Burger. Step 4 is “Pour the MOS original sauce and mayonnaise on the patty” They have 100% beef in parentheses in case you were wondering. One thing they didn’t mention in the instructions was that you shouldn’t use up all the sauce in Step 4. There’s more to come…

You see once you put the lettuce on in Step 5, you still have more room for sauce. I’ve got a fever and the only prescription is more Mos Sauce! Be sure to serve it in its special burger wrap. “Wow!! It’s tasty!”

Yeah, well maybe not so much. I was sick for two days after my return to Madison. I can’t say for sure it was the burger that mossed up my insides, but it seemed a likely culprit. I’ll still fly JAL, of course, and hope they drop the Err Mos Burger as quickly as I did, but if offered, I’ll be batting my eyelashes and asking if they don’t have some instant noodles I might try.

The Japanese love ceremony, and while the Air Mos Burger procedure might not be as charming or memorable as the tea ceremony, you might want to also check out what one Tokyo coffee shop is doing with a cup of Joe: a Japanese coffee ceremony, if you will.

If seeing that burger might give you nightmares, see something nice from Japan, such as walking tours in Kyoto.

Kevin Revolinski

Author, travel writer/photographer, world traveler. Writes about travel, hiking, camping, paddling, and craft beer.

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