Everyone loves to take a trip somewhere special, but few look forward to all of the necessary pre-travel preparations as well as the actual journey that’ll take them to their final destination.
Between ensuring you’ve packed everything you need to have enough time to make it through crowded security lines, a long day of travel doesn’t tend to be the most relaxing experience.
Once you finally board your flight and make it to your seat, there’s a whole other aspect to consider: what is there to eat? Some of us will turn our noses at the “pretzels or cookies?” and “chicken or pasta?” options. Others, however, will have to wonder whether anything at all is safe for them to eat in the first place.
Fly Snack-Free or Go Gluten?
With about 3 million Americans following a gluten-free diet, chances are one of your next in-flight neighbors will have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.
We all know that airline dining options are slim in general and that those offered don’t tend to be the most tasty or visually appetizing. However, having a complementary option onboard is something to envy when you’re worried about accidentally eating something that contains gluten.
Rather than question which option is going to taste the best, those with gluten sensitivities have to decide whether they’ll fly hungry or gamble with gluten.
If you don’t know anyone with celiac disease or gluten intolerance, you may not be aware of the unpleasant side effects that come with unintended gluten consumption for those with sensitivities. We’ll leave that part of the research up to you. Dealing with those less than ideal symptoms on the ground sounds bad enough on its own, but 40,000 feet in the air? Yikes!
Praise for Progress
We’ve seen plenty of photos and videos that have gone viral in the past as a result of little to zero food in-flight options for gluten-intolerant travelers. As an extreme example, someone was once given a single banana as their gluten-free “meal” for a nine-hour flight.
While there is of course still plenty of room for improvement, we must recognize that the commercial flight industry has come a long way when it comes to their dining options.
New industry standards have influenced airlines to offer more accommodations for those flying with special dietary restrictions. Aside from gluten-free, you can now find vegan, kosher, diabetic, halal and lactose-free offerings onboard most airlines.
Whether your diet is rooted in food allergies, health conditions, or faith-based dietary restrictions, no one should have to default to going hungry on a long flight. We’ve seen major shifts in the fast food and restaurant industries in recent years, and we’re glad to see the commercial flight industry adopting a more modern dining perspective as well.
Do Your Research & Come Prepared
While there may be more in-flight accommodations for special diets nowadays, that doesn’t necessarily mean you should assume you’re automatically good to go.
Reservations.com took it upon themselves to do the research, looking into 54 airlines and their policies for special meals and diet accommodations. Their guide for gluten-free airline dining showcases a number of helpful criteria that can help inform your next in-flight experience and make it more pleasurable – or at the very least, more appetizing.
Aside from detailing how soon before takeoff you need your “Special Meal” request locked in, they also noted which airlines charge additional for accommodations. Fortunately, those were just a handful. Readers can also learn which airlines cannot fully guarantee their gluten-free meals or snacks are safe from cross-contamination.
With so many aspects to consider, we recommend checking out the full infographic to learn more info and tips on how to make the most of in-flight dining as a gluten-free traveler!