Food has become an essential part of the flying experience since passengers have been using airplanes to get from point A to point B. In today’s economy, airlines are struggling to maintain profitability and have done away with many things that were previously standard fare on all flights. Pillows and blankets were the first to go. Initially, Delta Airlines began selling them to passengers in economy class, a move that proved to be unsuccessful. Then came the reconfigurations of aircraft which allowed airlines the ability to cram more passengers into an already tight space. Before they merged with United, Continental Airlines bragged in the precursor to their safety video that they were the only airline to “still serve free meals at mealtime.” It wasn’t long before they too succumbed to the reality that they simply could not sustain the cost of providing free meals….at mealtime. Hence, the OnBoard Bistro was born.
In economy class on most domestic flights, passengers have the option of purchasing a wide variety of food items. Some of which are healthy. Passengers traveling in first class on domestic flights are offered a choice of two meals, which are either included in the price of the ticket or provided as a perk of being an upgraded member of their frequent flier program.
On international flights, all meals are included in the purchase price of your ticket. In first class, you will normally have a choice of beef or pork, chicken, seafood and pasta and a diverse array of accoutrements. In economy class, the selection has dwindled down to a chicken dish served with rice or a cheese filled pasta with a meatless tomato sauce.
For those travelers on international flights with special dietary needs, there still remains the option to pre-order a special meal. Special meal options include Vegetarian, Strict Vegetarian aka Vegan, Gluten Free, Hindu, Moslem, Kosher, Low Fat/Low Calorie, and Seafood meals. If you have special dietary needs, however, it is not recommended that you rely on the airline to provide you with what you need. Mistakes can happen and because of an unforeseen circumstance, your meal may not be on board, even though you ordered it weeks in advance. Also, you may not like the airline’s version of a specially prepared vegetarian meal that consists of unseasoned boiled potatoes, carrots, and cauliflower.
If you have Celiac’s disease and must eat gluten free foods, it is best to bring specially prepared meal items from home. You may not able to bring liquids over 3 ounces through the security check point, but food has not been banned. Yet.
That being said, bringing a meal from home is far healthier than eating anything the airline has to offer. It has been proven that food tastes bland at 34,000 feet in the air. In order to make the food more palatable, airline catering companies load their foods with MSG and sugar to improve the taste, then add preservatives to maintain the shelf life of each meal. They even add a chemical to salads to keep it looking green as long as possible. As a frequent traveler, it is not a good idea to eat airplane food all the time. Actually, it’s not good to eat it at all. And if you have a nut allergy, beware. All foods served on an airplane come with the warning that they have most likely been cross-contaminated with other items containing nuts. So if you are feeling brave and absolutely must eat the food, eat it at your own risk and have your epi-pen nearby in the event you go into anaphylactic shock.
If you do not have time to prepare and pack a meal from home, there are many places in the airport where you can purchase a suitable meal before boarding the plane. Many airports have wonderful restaurants that will provide you with a tastier, healthier alternative to what is served on the airplane and amazing wines to go with it. So plan to arrive early.
Airplanes are a reliable form of transportation. However, if you have special dietary needs, why rely on a huge conglomerate to supply the proper nutrition your body needs? Err on the side of caution and bring your own food or purchase a suitable alternative once you arrive at the airport.
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