In-flight dining tips for special meals

By Andrea Sachs Time of article published Nov 14, 2015

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Washington - Veteran in-flight diner Nikos Loukas has filled his belly on nearly 300 flights.

During his travels, he has accumulated more than just calories; he has also amassed some expert insights to share with his fellow eaters.


For special diets

If you order a special meal, you will usually receive your tray before everyone else. The crew tends to heat up these meals first and deliver them quickly.

Know the differences among special meals. Diet, low-fat, low-cholesterol and low-salt are diet-specific; halal and kosher are religious.

One of the best special meals is the vegetarian choice on Swiss. The airline teamed up with Hiltl for these dishes. According to Guinness World Records, Hiltl, which opened in Zurich in 1898, is the world's oldest vegetarian restaurant. For US carriers, Delta offers about 18 special meals; American, five; and United, nine. By comparison, Singapore Airlines offers 34 special meals, and Cathay Pacific has 21.


For your flying comfort[

Flying generally causes bloating: The longer the flight, the more you expand. So remember, even before your departure, avoid cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, beans and the like. In addition, stay away from bread. At 35 000 feet, carbs can lead to bloating, too. Try to eat as “clean” as possible. Airplane food is heavily processed, but you can still enjoy some parts of the meal. Order a vegetarian meal for fresh, healthy vegetables and salads or stick to light menu options. Flying is dehydrating, so drink loads of water.


For your dining edification

More airlines are paying attention to meals these days, working with celebrity chefs and highlighting local dishes. Asian and European airlines are investing in in-flight meals. In the United States, Virgin America, JetBlue (Mint class) and American (first-class on domestic routes), among others, are trying hard to win over passengers with their food.

When airlines contract out their in-flight catering, they are sometimes at the mercy of the caterer, so don't always blame the airline for the quality. Many ingredients that are common in New York might not be in season or available in, say, Singapore. Of course, meals are generally better in the class called premium economy, even better in business, and you will typically find a fine dining experience in first class.

* Andrea Sachs (not the one who wears Prada) has been writing for Travel since 2000. She travels near (Ellicott City, Jersey Shore) and far (Burma, Namibia, Russia), and finds adventure no matter the mileage. She is all packed for the Moon or North Korea, whichever opens first.

The Washington Post

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