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Lifestyle in Style

Special Meals on Airplanes

Many people I speak with are surprised to discover airlines offer special meals to their passengers, particularly on international flights. I mean it reached a point on Air Canada flights to Europe years ago there was a choice between chicken and pasta oh “but sorry we’ re out of the chicken”.

So I dug around a bit and discovered many airlines offer special meals particularly on their international flights. For example Air Canada offers the following meals;

  • Baby meal
  • Bland meal
  • Diabetic meal
  • Fruit plate meal
  • Gluten intolerant meal
  • Hindu meal
  • Kosher meals
  • Low-Calorie meal
  • Low fat meal
  • Low lactose meal
  • Low salt meal
  • Moslem meal
  • Vegetarian Asian meal
  • Vegetarian Jain meal
  • Vegetarian oriental meal
  • Vegetarian meal (lacto-ovo)
  • Vegetarian Vegan Meal (No diary, no eggs)

Now you take your chances. For example, just about any special meal out of Toronto Pearson’s airport is bound to disappoint. Coming to Pearson your chances of a decent meal are higher. I have had incredible Kosher meals out of London Heathrow’s Airport and inedible ones out of Pearson.

What I am trying to say it’s a bit like roulette. You can win big or lose big! But half the fun in trying. If only they had those great baguette shops like they have in French train stations where you buy your freshly made baguette sandwich or croissant to take on board the train.

As an example, on Air Canada # 881 from Paris to Toronto I had the kosher meal prepared by Langerhuize Kosher Cuisine headquartered in the Netherlands. The main course was some type of meat. What it was I am not entirely certain but it was served in a bed of undercooked rice and green beans. The salad was frozen as well as the applesauce. What adult eats applesauce? There was a half decent sesame roll which was not frozen.

Now breakfast was frozen jam, more frozen applesauce, with frozen orange juice, frozen butter and jam with a stale role and a croissant. I am not sure what the hot meal was thinking it was a bagel sandwich but decided it was a type of omelette. The particularly violently bad quality food suited the “John Wick 3” movie I was watching.

Now the problem with the frozen food, according to the flight attendant is quite common as the special food is stored at the top of the food trolley by the frozen ice. And Air Canada knowing this has yet to fix the problem?

Now flying to Paris my Kosher meal was prepared by Hammasbia Maple in Mississauga. Nothing was frozen! Dinner was a rock hard stale whole wheat bun with a decent although a bit too much of an al dente cous cous salad. The hot portion of the meal was poor quality beef with canned carrots and green beans and a hunk of stale spice cake. Breakfast was orange juice, a low-quality croissant and canned pears and peaches. Do they still make such fruit?

In terms of wine the cheapest French red and white was served in small plastic bottles. SHAME ON YOU AIR CANADA for a national carrier not to serve Canadian wine to its steerage customers! The quality was LOW.

Now getting me to and from my destination is most important. And in Air Canada I Trust. But for food you take your chances when you order a special meal. My current favourite is the Vegetarian Asian/ Hindu meal.

You can order these meals when you book with Air Canada on-line by selecting from the meal drop down menu when entering your passenger information or call Air Canada Reservations and wait an obscene amount of time to order your meal. If you are flying within North America and in steerage where “Bistro Service” is offered no special meals are available unless you are flying Premium Economy or Business Class.

You may be lucky ordering the Special Meal but your best bet is to eat beforehand at the airport and forgoe the slop.

Steerage class food has long lost any luster it once had and as the airline sets the budget whose to blame?

Photo: Getty Images

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