Jump to content
  • Sign Up
  • Join Our Community!

    Get help in our celiac / gluten-free forum.

  • Jefferson Adams
    Jefferson Adams

    UK Celiac Man's Gluten-Free Meal for a 10-Hour Flight on TUI was 'Popcorn and Crisps'

    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

      An irate passenger says TUI gave him popcorn and crisps instead of a gluten-free meal he had booked in advance on a 10-hour flight. His is the latest gluten-free meal horror story from the airline travelers. 


    Caption: Image: CC BY-SA 2.0--airlines470

    Celiac.com 11/25/2019 - Anyone with celiac disease or gluten-intolerance who has ever flown commercially knows that reliable gluten-free food can be hit or miss, depending on many factors. Many people simply bring their own food and leave it at that. Others choose to trust that the airline will get it right, and order a special meal in advance. What's the best solution? The story of a UK Man who was 'given popcorn and crisps' as a gluten-free meal on 10-hour flight on TUI Airways might serve as a warning against placing too much trust on airlines.

    Celiac disease sufferer James Howe, of UK chose to order a gluten-free meal, along with shelling out over $1,000 for premium seats for his 10-hour flight. The 39-year-old says he ordered the three course, gluten-free meal three months before his return flight to Gatwick from his honeymoon in Cancun.

    Howe said he was only notified after takeoff that there would be no gluten-free meal available for him. After scrambling around for options, the crew could only provide him with popcorn and crisps.

    Howe was understandably upset after ordering his meal well in advance, and forking out extra cash to upgrade his flight only to be left without any food options. He had some choice things to say on social media.

    • "Popcorn and crisps to get me through 10+ hours. Fabulous way to end our lovely honeymoon."
    • He added: "People beware if you book a meal 'they are subject to availability and nothing is guaranteed.'"
    • "Well sorry I won't be booking another holiday with you and advising anyone to go anywhere near a TUI shop."

    Celiac.com recommends that people with celiac disease bring their own gluten-free food and snacks on any commercial flight, as a back-up to any mishaps, such as this.

    We also have a few Gluten-Free Travel Tips along with Tips for Eating Gluten-Free When Traveling.


    User Feedback

    Recommended Comments

    Sorry for your story.  It has happened to me on United Airlines flying from USA to Europe for business.  Twice they just didn’t have a dinner for me despite ordering well in advance. Once a very apologetic flight attendant brought me a side salad.  Another time a surly attendant brought me a slice of cheese and a few loose grapes.  Not quite the dinner I needed!  Since the I always bring an emergency PB&J sandwich now - they travel well!  Good luck. 

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    I wouldn't put my trust in any airlines to have a Gluten Free meal available whether I ordered the meal ahead or not.  It is all about the bottom line and we Celiac's (less than 2 percent of the population) cost them extra to prepare a gluten-free meal.  Preparing the meal is only the first step than someone would have to coordinate the effort of getting it to the right flight than the right person that ordered it.  Seems easy, but this is also a service industry and as with all service industries all they care about is the bottom line.  I fly often, use to fly every other week.  99% of the time the airline doesn't even have a snack that is gluten-free.  gluten-free airline meal, I don't see that as being a regular  offer in my life time.   Do what I do, throw some protein bars in your carry on that will hold you over till you land.  

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    I don’t really have a basis for comparison, but whenever I travel to Europe, I always try to fly the Irish airline, Aer Lingus, because they are very conscientious about providing a safe and meaningful gluten- free meal. 

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    I work in the airline industry, and I can attest that someone with Celiac Disease (like myself) cannot trust the airlines to take care of our health needs. 

    Unfortunately the Flight Attendants are not equipped, nor aware of the risks concerning cross contamination while handling diner rolls or fresh baked cookies within the confines of a tight aircraft galley.

    Something else to consider, the ovens used on aircraft are convection, which means hot air is being circulated, the same air within an oven that had the rolls and cookies.  Everything should be covered with foil, however the crew checks the meals, foil shifts, a lot can happen to expose the meals before, during and after the prep.

    Lastly are the catering personnel and aircraft cleaners.  Are the catering kitchens clean and free of cross contamination?  I can tell you this, there isn't a scratch chef proparing each and every meal, there are thousands of meals being handled each and every day.  I have witnessed gluten all over the galley, ovens and beverage trays.  I have witnessed beer being spilling in the trays that hold the ice, cans of soda and cups.  And the cleaning crews in-between flights, do not do a good job of cleaning the galleys in the extremely short time frame the airlines allot.

    What this all means, for me, I do not eat or drink anything from the galley whatsoever, and my drinks are from sealed bottles of water from the galley or soda from the terminal.  I pack my food relative to the number of days I'll be away from home.  I do not trust anyone while on the road doing my job. 

    This summer my wife are going to Italy (first real vacation since diagnosed in 2007) for a wedding and we purchased first class seats on the airline I work for, and I will once again not eat anything from the airplane and I'll have my food packed.  Sad when you think about it, considering I work for the airline and I cannot trust them!

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    That's a horrible experience. Bringing food from home is fine for the first leg of your trip but coming home is a lot more difficult. I travel American Airlines a lot for work and their snacks are only a cookie or pretzel and none of their pre packaged meals are completely gluten free. It's very discouraging. 

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    Some excellent and helpful information here.  I know right now it's not funny at all, but hopefully one day it will be one of those family 'you won't believe what happened when..." stories.  All my best to the newlyweds and a big thank you to those of you taking the time to share your experience with those of us who have never traveled yet with Celiac.

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites
    On 11/29/2019 at 4:01 PM, Awol cast iron stomach said:

    I am sorry for your negative experience Mr. Howe. Beyond frustrating . May you newlyweds have this negative experience fade as much as possible, and be replaced by more wonderful memories together.

    best wishes

    He deserved all he got he was lucky that he didn't get gluten from cross contamination any body who  has coeliac disease should never eat out. 

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    I am wheat sensitive not celiac and been on a Gluten Free diet for 7 months.  A few months ago I flew to London from Florida to get on a cruise ship.  I made sure ahead of time that the cruise ship had a Gluten Free menu for me and they did a wonderful job.  I never thought of requesting the airline to have Gluten Free menu and it was an 8 hour flight.  They did have salads, grapes and cheeses which worked great.  I also had taken a lot of gluten free cookies, bars, and nuts to cover my flight there and on the way back.  With this illness, I am learning everyday to plan ahead with everything thing I do even if I have to take my own food.  It seem like a big job at time but it is worth not starving or getting sick either.  

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    My 82 year old Mum and I both got ordered Gluten free meals on our trip to the UK and were badly affected by the food they supplied. My Mum's reaction was so bad she had an anaphylactic episode which could have killed her. The flight staff medic was shocking, laying her in her back in the narrow isle straight after vomiting and she must have swollowed her tounge cause she couldn't breathe. I acted quick to sit her back up so she could breathe again. Then on return trip, our gluten-free meals were given to other people, even though our names were clearly labelled on the trays. Just can't risk it anymore, but I have had my  Home made take on meal taken off me when going through customs at other airports, so you just can't win. What can you do for the long haul trips ?

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites


    Join the conversation

    You are posting as a guest. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
    Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

    Guest
    Add a comment...

    ×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

      Only 75 emoji are allowed.

    ×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

    ×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

    ×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • About Me

    Jefferson Adams is Celiac.com's senior writer and Digital Content Director. He earned his B.A. and M.F.A. at Arizona State University, and has authored more than 2,000 articles on celiac disease. His coursework includes studies in science, scientific methodology, biology, anatomy, medicine, logic, and advanced research. He previously served as SF Health News Examiner for Examiner.com, and devised health and medical content for Sharecare.com. Jefferson has spoken about celiac disease to the media, including an appearance on the KQED radio show Forum, and is the editor of the book "Cereal Killers" by Scott Adams and Ron Hoggan, Ed.D.

×
×
  • Create New...