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Special Meals - Inflight


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Guide to making the most of your inflight meals by ordering a Special Meal

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Even though airline food has improved over the years and some airlines even have inflight chefs for their first or business class passengers, we as travellers still seem to enjoy poking fun at what the airlines serve, no matter what class is travelled, or how good the food actually is.

Food does taste different when flying and even if we are not hungry most travellers will happily accept the airline meal and dig in with earnest - after all, eating takes up some time and shortens any flight boredom you may have. There is one trick though, that airlines do not openly advertise, but which you can use to help make your flight, whether it be long or short haul, that little bit more enjoyable.

This trick is quite simply - Special Meals. Most travellers never consider this as an option because they do not need a 'special meal', what these travellers should realise though, is that special meals are available to everyone, you do not have to be Lactose intolerant or a vegetarian to order a special meal, you don't even need to be Japanese to order the special Japanese meal - if you are lucky enough for your airline to even offer that option as Singapore Airlines does.

Most travellers will have seen other passengers get their meals first, or will have noticed the stewardess verifying a customers selection of food, these are regular practices that most airlines use when dealing with a customer that has ordered a special meal. 

Special meals should be ordered either through your travel agent or we recommend directly with the airline at least 48 hours in advance of the flight departure, although the time differs with different airlines etc. When you call the airline ask them what special meals they offer, most airlines will offer some, all or more of the following: vegetarian (oriental, western, Indian styles), lactose free, seafood, fruit platter, child meals, low cholesterol, Japanese, Hindu, Kosher, Muslim, diabetic, fat free, gluton free, high fibre, low calorie, low fat, low protein, low sodium, low purine, semi-purine, soft fluid meal etc.

Unfortunately while the benefits of ordering a special meal can include a sense of more personalised service, better quality food etc the only drawback is perhaps the lack of consistency, a seafood meal on a Bangkok to Hong Kong route will be different from what you get on the return leg, even though you are on the same airline.

From the numerous tests we have done, the quality of the special meal depends on the departing airport and the airline you are flying with. Out of all our tests with different airlines on different routes, we have, on the whole, thoroughly enjoyed ordering a special meal, you receive your meal first and most of the time it will be superior in quality to the regular meals being offered.

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