Free-from chef and coeliac, Marc Warde, has been shocked to see how airlines have turned their backs on free-from travellers with dietary needs during the pandemic and calls on buyers to urgently focus on special meal options post-COVID-19
Airlines are beginning to fly again and although I am sure it will be a slow start, that will certainly be welcomed for so many keen to reunite with loved ones and tired of Zoom or skype.
It is welcome news for caterers too even if many airlines are initially only offering more simple food and beverage solutions across all cabins in a bid to reduce crew interactions. Meals and snacks are being presented in just one box and there is minimal choice, which may well be a good interim solution in many cases, but for those of us needing a special meal it seems to mean’forget it, you need BYO (bring your own!)’
To me this is an abuse of the passenger. Of course, we completely understand that many airlines and caterers have staff on furlough or have made people redundant, so perhaps special meals have taken rather a back seat in the grand scheme of things.
However, airports don’t cater well for those with allergies and jumping on a long flight with just a bag of free-from Twiglets in your hand is not on and is only going to make this group of passengers hungry and angry – hangry. A hangry free-from person is not one you want to bump into, let alone share a long flight..and I speak from personal experience.
And it is not good enough in terms of customer service either. Solutions are available. At Libero Special Meals (www.liberospecialmeals.com) we have a range of solutions, as of course do others. Snacks or a sandwich or a complete picnic box of free-from dreams, a simple hot meal to a gourmet platter – all special meal types are caterered for including diabetic meals which are also all sugar-free and ketogenic, so suit those following a Keto diet too.
I’ve said it before and I will say it again, special meals don’t have to be dull and boring. Our vegan burger with dirty fries is simple and’on trend’ and meets multiple special meal codes: It is a gluten-free bun with kimchi Korean slaw, beet, sweet potato and chickpea burger, relish and vegan cheese. Couple that with the roasted root fries with toppings like guacamole, salsa and vegan cheese and you can a whole group of special diet passengers can get really down and dirty, for a guaranteed smile.
Wrapped treats and breads are readily available too through partners such as Skinny Genie and Dr Schar, so please lets not forget these passengers. COVID-19 has put health and wellbeing at the heart of all our lives, in the new normal, it must be at the heart of what we offer the passenger as they begin to come back onboard. There may be challenges for catering but these special meals passengers, still need to eat.