No Need to Fear Airports: Gluten-Free Air Travel, Part 2.

From the comments on the last post about gluten-free flying, it seems that most of us are members of the Better Safe Than Sorry school of thought. With good reason, too, as mix-ups (and unhelpful flight attendants) are still out there.

What happens, though, when your best-laid plans have gone awry? Maybe you

  • brought food for a four-hour journey, but it turned into a nine-hour odyssey.
  • packed the most delicious bag of snacks – and left it on the counter at home.
  • just plumb forgot.

Point is, there are plenty of ways to find yourself hungry on the go, whether or not your airline offers a gluten-free meal.

Tables, tables everywhere -- but not a thing to eat?
Tables, tables everywhere -- but not a thing to eat?

Here are some additional tips – and a request – for flying gluten-free.

Know your options: Check online, and see what dining options you’ll have at each airport you’re stopping in. Cross-check one or two with your Gluten-Free Restaurant Guide, even if they’re places you never go to in “real life”. If you’re hungry and trapped at the airport, you’ll be glad to know what’s safe for you to order.

Pack light: A general travel bonus-tip that’s served my stomach well: if you aren’t bringing your Restaurant Guide with you, or it’s in your checked luggage, take digital photos of the pages you know you’ll need. This way, you can just pull out your camera and zoom in on the relevant information. (This also works great for maps).

If your airline offers pre-packaged snacks: There’s a good chance that they’ll detail the choices on line. Take a peek before you leave for the airport, and check them against the Gluten-Free Grocery Guide. If the munchies strike mid-flight, you’ll know where you stand.

Keep Dining Cards handy. Especially true for airports outside the US, for two reasons. First, the obvious one: they’re helpful! Second, in a pinch they double as a helpful translation aid for pre-packaged foods. Not sure what the French words for gluten, wheat, barley, malt and rye are? Your dining card knows, and you can use it to trouble-shoot ingredients lists. Not a fool-proof method, but it can help you spot danger.

Speak Up. Here’s the request. If you’ve got a food-inclusive flight – and no gluten-free options – say something, please? The more we speak up as a community and request gluten-free airplane meals, the more we’ll see them in the future. True, the food we bring from home tastes better. True, $6 for some chips and carrot sticks on board is ridiculous. But more options are always a good thing.

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