Gluten-Free Cooking at 30,000 Feet

In honor of the busiest travel day of the year, I thought it appropriate to share a recent travel experience. I had the pleasure of traveling to London a few weeks ago for a work assignment.

The cuisine found on a plane usually leaves something to be desired even if you can eat the food they are serving. Some carriers offer gluten free meals, however I have had mixed experiences. On one Continental flight I was given the “vegetarian” meal instead of the gluten free one I had ordered. A different flight returning from Europe included a roll using wheat starch which is considered gluten free by the EU but US tests have shown the gluten content to be well above the 20 ppm normally allowed.My strategy is to order the gluten free meal if it is offered but not to depend on eating anything that is served. There may end up being some fruit or a macaroon; Jennie’s brand was served with two of my gluten free meals.

Delta airlines recently eliminated their gluten free meal option so I knew that I was dependent upon what I could carry on the plane for the entire trip. I brought various snacks, fruit, veggies etc. I also brought on a package of shaved turkey breast and a package of Indian seasoned chicken breast.

While the airline industry is not currently known for it’s customer service acumen, I hoped to find a flight attendant in a pleasant mood. I asked if I might be able to keep the two packages in the fridge so that I would have something to eat later in the flight without worrying about the meat spoiling. Well I have never experienced such amazing customer service in any capacity. Not only did she put the packages in the fridge, but then as the flight attendants were heating the rest of the passengers’ meals she let me use a large clean bowl to heat up my veggies and the chicken.I was able to eat my completely gluten free hot meal at the same time everyone else was being served. She then made sure that I had extra fruit and nuts since I couldn’t eat the other sides that they were serving. It was such an extraordinary experience. I haven’t tried cooking again at 30,000 feet, but I know that I can if the need arises.

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Angela said,

November 5, 2009 @ 4:32 am

As a gluten free flight attendant I am so glad they were accomodating to your needs. It is so hard to travel gluten free. I am on a plane for ten hours every day and it is so hard. Let me know if you have any other tips for traveling gluten free.

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