How To Upgrade Your Airline Meal When You Fly

Anyone can do this.

How To Get A Better Airline Meal When You Fly
Photo by Marcus Zymmer via Unsplash

It’s one of the downfalls of flying: crappy food. But if you’re not carrying on your own snacks, what is a traveler to do? It’s easier than you think, if you know what to ask for.

Many airlines these days offer premium meals, for an extra fee, of course. Airlines line Alaska and Air France offer special menus curated by well-known chefs, like Tom Douglas, Jean Imbert and Maison Lenôtre.

According to Lonely Planet:

You might even think about buying a to-go hamper at the airport. At London Heathrow Terminal 5, Gordon Ramsay’s Plane Food restaurant offers a Grab & Go Picnic, where you can “pick from starters of crunchy beetroot salad or potted salt beef brisket with a grain mustard kick, mains of delicious grilled teriyaki salmon or broccoli and goats cheese tart, and finish with chocolate tart or a selection of British cheeses for dessert,” the menu says.

If the hamper idea isn’t your thing, you can order a special meal. If you’re vegetarian or vegan, or require other special dietary accommodations, your meal will actually be served first. And if you are going meatless, and Indian and Asian flavors are enticing to you, select the “Asian Vegetarian” meal option where applicable (Qatar Airways and United Airlines both offer it). As Lonely Planet puts it, “this is food that serves large numbers of people really well, and suits reheating too,” as anyone who’s attended a wedding can attest to.

Lonely Planet advises ordering your meal at LEAST 24 hours in advance (more like 48), but says if you forget, “after takeoff and before the crew are getting busy, pop to wash your hands in the lavatory and ask a friendly-looking member of the cabin crew which of the options are looking the best today.” Always sage advice.

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