On the Plane

Helpful Tips To Ensure your Dietary Requirements are Taken Care of when Flying

1.  Always pre-book a Celiac meal with your chosen airline

You may not be able to request a special meal at the last moment, so you need to arrange this with the airline at the time of booking your flight.  Call the airline again 24 to 96 hours before your flight to confirm they are preparing a gluten free meal for you.

2.  Make yourself known to the airline staff when you board your plane

Take the time to introduce yourself to the airline staff and mention your dietary requirements.  Confirm your seating with them as this will also ensure your meal is delivered to the right person.  Make sure if you have changed your seat for any reason, they are made aware of your new seating position.  This will prevent any confusion when delivering your gluten-free meal.

3.  Carry some gluten free snacks with you.

It is a good idea to bring some emergency food supplies with you.  There are a few reasons for this.  The airline may have some last minute changes to your aircraft and you may be placed on a different flight.  This may mean your meal request (which has been dutifully loaded on your original flight) is not transferred over to your new flight.  Even the best laid plans can go astray so it is always advisable to have some supplies with you.  Be prepared however to dispose of any leftovers when your arrive at your destination should custom regulations require you do to so.


4. If you are unable to book a special meal

Ensure you eat before getting on the plane so you have a full stomach.  There may be items you can eat from the regular menu and you will need to read labels carefully and use common sense in this regard, but to be absolutely sure you do not go hungry on a flight when you haven't been able to pre-book your special meal, ensure you have a full stomach before boarding.

A lot of airlines offer gluten-free meals. Once you have boarded the plane, you may find the airline staff will place a sticker on the top of your headrest.  This sticker should say "GFML".  This identifies that you have ordered a gluten free meal.  Take comfort in seeing this sticker because then you know that your meal is coming and has not been forgotten. 

Ordering a special meal means, generally, you are served first and therefore don't have to wait so long.  Sometimes my gluten free meal looks and tastes much fresher, which leaves my traveling companions hungry and with their mouths watering!!

Delays can happen with airlines and meals get misplaced or forgotten on the day of travel. The best thing to do is stay clam as the airline staff will always try to do their best to find you something else suitable to eat.  You never know it might come from business class.

If on the odd occasion there is no suitable substitutes to offer you, you may need to rely on the packed snacks you have packed for such an occasion.  Just remember abusing the airline staff is not going to make gluten free food appear and if we complain too much eventually they will stop all special meals.  So like a boy scout always be prepared and you will get through your flight.  Remember it's only a meal,  you will not 'starve' (as long as you have your snacks with you!!).

These are good bring-along foods that require no preparation and are great for domestic travel only.   For international travel it is recommended to stick to pre-packaged, un-opened commercial food:

  • Fresh fruits (grapes and bananas are especially convenient)
  • Individual-size cans or packages of fruits (including those little individual packets of applesauce)
  • Dried fruits
  • Fresh vegetables
  • Cold cereals
  • Cookies, crackers and rice cakes
  • Meats
  • Nuts and trail mixes
  • Candy
  • Energy Bars
  • Potato and/or corn crisps/chips or soy crisps
Remember, these foods are for eating on the plane and not designed to be taken into your country or destination.   Any food taken on the plane, that is opened, may have to be "ditched' at the airport in accordance with local quarantine requirements.