Vegan airline meal fail – guest post
Continuing with what is becoming a bit of a tradition around these parts, my Twitter pal Tumblebee stopped globetrotting long enough to visit and share a vegan airline food story with us.
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And of course, send in your own food in the air experiences so I can share with the interested masses!
Take it away, Tumblebee!
I’m lucky that my job means I get to travel a lot, so will often find myself preparing for a transatlantic trip several times a year. As a vegan I know that the secret to successful air travel is to plan in advance by calling your airline at least 48 hours before you travel to check that they have your special meal request recorded, and always packing a snack box just in case because what the airline considers to be vegan, and what we consider to be vegan, can differ wildly.
A case in point would be my journey yesterday from North Carolina to Heathrow with American Airlines. It all started so well. My meal when they flight began was great: I was provided with a chickpea curry with rice and broccoli, and small side salad, and a couple of slices of melon for dessert. So far, so good, and the snack box could remain in the overhead storage.
However, after a few hours sleep it all went wrong. For ‘breakfast’ I was served a cookie, a yoghurt and a cup of melon. Checking the ingredients on the cookie it contained eggs and milk, and the yoghurt was a dairy based yoghurt rather than a soy or coconut based delight. What a disappointment. Luckily I was landing shortly and could head into Heathrow Terminal 5 to Giraffe for a bowl of their porridge (made with non-dairy milk) before catching my connecting flight back up to Newcastle, but it’s so frustrating when airlines serve up a ‘special meal’ which doesn’t meet a vegan’s dietary requirements.
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Sounds like that airline is in dire need of some training!
Wow, We just had an EPIC Fail 2 times on Iberian Air, which is basically AA also. Epic. Twice, nothing, the meals were NOT there AND their snotty attitudes were. And we didn’t even ask twice. It was insane.
A good few years ago, I flew with Qatar Air. I had requested vegan meals and had checked all was OK with them in advance and again at check-in. I was told all was fine. The first meal gave me a disappointing clue to what I was in for. The hot part was fine – some kind of lentil stew, potatoes with a tomato topping. However, on the side were a bread roll and butter, and a side salad which had already been dressed with some kind of mayonnaise/salad cream. Dessert was a mousse which, although it had no ingredients listed, I was fairly sure was dairy and/or had gelatine. I pointed out to the crew that two-thirds of my meal was not vegan but they just shrugged and pointed to the large VEGAN sticker on the outside of the box. The same pattern followed for the rest of that flight and my return flight. When I got back to the UK, I contacted the airline to query the system and I was told quite clearly that the only part of any meal which is governed by the dietary requirements facility is the main, or hot, part. I was told that all the side dishes and the desserts were the same for all passengers so that the trays can be put together in advance with only the main course left to be added at the end, and needing to fulfil dietary requirements. They apologised for any disappointment but said it was standard across all airline meals. Needless to say, I didn’t think it was good enough but clearly I wasn’t going to get any further with them. It’s so long since I have flown long-haul that I have no idea what the situation is now.
I fly with Emirates long-haul and have no problems with them. I request a Jain meal which is dairy free.