Saturday, 23 October 2010

Bile High Club - A Guide to GF Plane Food

Wheat dodging has taken me on quite a journey over the past 12 months, but never before have I taken wheat dodging on a journey.

I was a little nervous about the 11 hour flight to Tokyo. Not having any control over my environment. Not able to take a packed lunch. Not able to hop off and nip to the shop. I was literally in for the long haul.

I enquired about the GF offerings on British Airways flights months before my journey but couldn't find a great deal of information. I knew they could cater for my diet though so I decided to just go with the flow and hope for the best.

Here's the important bit

You must give BA at least 48 hours notice if you have special dietary requirements. They don't stock special meals on the flights unless they have been requested. The best way to make sure this happens is to call them. Have you flight reference ready when you call.

So, what was the food like?

Believe it or not, I usually get quite excited about plane food. This time though, I was just really anxious. Do you get food anxiety? Some times it makes me act in a pathetic childlike manner and I just want to roll up into a little ball and cry. I get really stressed sometimes. There was one occasion in a certain hellish Leeds shopping centre when Marks and Spark's cafe wouldn't put hot water in the porridge pot I'd bought FROM THEM. I was in a panic. I wanted to cry. I ended up buying a bag of crisps from a nearby coffee shop so I didn't feel bad asking them to fill my instant porridge pot.

Anyway, the food. The picture you see at the top of the post is the first meal I received.

It consisted of a prawn and salmon salad with capers and a slice of lemon in place of a dressing. It was bland but at least it was fresh

The main dish was grilled chicken, rice and vegetables. Again, no real sauce or dressing. It was very dry and bland so I smothered it with the little salt and pepper sachets I received. Really wasn't keen on this but importantly, it was edible so I wouldn't starve.

There was a side dish of potato cakes which were again, edible. Not particularly nice as they were powdery and fell apart easily. For some reason, BA in their wisdom provided a pot of margarine with the meal so I smeared it over the potato cakes to give them some flavour.

The dessert was a lovely fresh fruit salad which was a nice way to end a very disappointing meal. Thank god that the complimentary bottle of wine is GF! And a nice cup of tea.

A few hours later, the air hostesses interrupted me watching Breakfast at Tiffany's to offer me a snack box. Ooh I love stuff like this. "How exciting that they've made a GF one just for me!"


It was a wheat scoffer snack box. Cake, crackers and biscuits, oh my! Cue the panic. I was really hungry. I went into pathetic child mode. My finance sensed this and went off to have words with the air hostesses. To their credit, they brought over a big box with mars bars, walkers crisps (the cheese and onion crisps said 'suitable for coeliacs' on the back of the packet) and tiny bags of dried fruit. They apologised profusely so I wasn't mad at them. A huge oversight by BA though.

Meal 2
Much better this time. And I was starving so would have eaten a scabby dog if I'm honest. The meal included a corn muffin which I'd never had before. I wasn't sure if it was supposed to be sweet or savoury so I left it for dessert. The main dish was grilled fish with potatoes and veg. The fish was moist and it's juices provided a nice sauce for the dish. I doused it with the salt and pepper and it wasn't too bad at all. The corn cake was ok, nice and stodgy which I appreciated. Still couldn't work out if it was sweet or savoury though.

The main points to consider when flying for long periods of time are:
  • Have you checked with your airline that they accommodate your diet before you booked?
  • Have you informed them of your requirements in good time?
  • Make sure the air hostesses know your condition. Don't expect them to be educated about it though - they need your guidance
  • Bring an emergency Mars bar (or whatever your equivalent is) just in case.

There is a pro to all this. You get your food before anyone else does. Yeah.

Happy flying,



  1. Got the feeling this is a typo, but love the Freudian slip:

    "My finance sensed this and went off to have words with the air hostesses."

    Sounds good though besides their slip-up - with the rep plane food has, it's good they have this as an option. Although bet the cheapo ones don't do it... can you imagine Ryanair offering GF food?!

  2. Ha ha! Husband/bank - same diff!

    Yes it's really good that BA cater for special diets. And thank God Ryanair don't do long haul.

  3. We only recently flew with BA ourselves and were actually quite impressed. The oversight surprises me as they seemed quite knowledgeable and the food was always quite nice, definitely tastier than American Airlines who were our first GF flight.

    Only flight we have ever had an issue with was when we went skiing and the tour operator hadn't passed on info to Thomas Cook. Didn't matter too much though as we didn't know we were due to get fed so had stocked up on McDonalds hash browns and the crew on the flight bent over backwords to ensure that we were sorted for return.

  4. am horrified they gave you a mars bar when you asked for a gluten free diet as mars bars contain barley malt and contains glucose syrup which some types of mars bars get from wheat.

  5. Mars Bars don't do me any harm as I am on a wheat free diet. Tiny traces aren't really a problem. I've learnt something though, as I thought coeliacs could eat them. This is why it's important to educate ourselves as it's so difficult!


  6. Coeliac society says coeliacs can eat barley malt extract - so mars bars fine?