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  • Jefferson Adams

    What People Say About Gluten-Free Airline Travel

    Jefferson Adams
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    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

      Here are some helpful insights on eating gluten-free on commercial airlines.


    Image: CC BY 2.0--mouser554
    Caption: Image: CC BY 2.0--mouser554

    Celiac.com 12/03/2019 - Stories of gluten-free airline travel are legion, and we’ve covered more than a few tales of gluten-free airline food woe. Here are some insights from Celiac.com and our Gluten-Free Forum about dealing with gluten-free airline travel. 

    Here’s what people on Celiac.com’s Gluten-Free Forum have to say about gluten-free air travel.



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    If you have a gluten-free travel story to tell, good, bad, or ugly, please consider sharing in the comments below.

    Edited by Jefferson Adams

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    Please contact Amtrak about the changes they are making to their available foods. In the past I had no problem eating on Amtrak, as the foods were prepared to order. Since Oct. 1, all meals are frozen "TV dinner" type meals. They do not have an ingredient list. This makes it impossible for me to eat.

       

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    I recently flew to and from the UK on American Airlines and British Air.  Both supplied gluten free meals that were acceptable.  American's was better than British Air's but they were both full gluten free meals.

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    We are all well-trained to talk to the kitchen staff if necessary to confirm the meal is properly prepared. It seems unlikely that an unknown worker in the unknown kitchen of an unknown chef in an unknown city(!) can successfully create an uncontaminated gluten-free meal. In this case the serving staff (flight attendants) are unable to contact the kitchen, and cannot impact the pre-prepared meal in any case. The only solution worth pursuing is to fill your carry-on with delicious food that will be the envy of your seatmates. 

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    Trip to Europe - United was told by our travel agent about gluten-free, and somehow didn't do it.  Cobbled together a few things that worked and of course had my own bars.  But that's a long flight.   Came home from Budapest via Zurich on Swiss Airlines, got the message fine and gave me excellent safe meals on both legs.  

    Traveled the Danube on AMAWaterways.   Superb gluten-free meals all the way, including gluten-free bread made fresh by the chef each day!!!!!  The waiters were also very knowledgable.  Our waitress told us that they do allergy training every spring before the season, and that once you learn it, doing gluten-free food is actually their easiest.   

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    I travelled on two very long flights on United Airlines in 2018, one from SF to Singapore and one from Sydney to LA, both business class.  I requested in advance gluten free meals.  I also called to confirm 24 hours in advance as someone had suggested.  There was nothing available for me on either flight.   It's great seeing your spouse enjoy a nice hot dinner and breakfast, while you get nothing.  Good thing I travel with some snacks.  Very disappointed in United Airlines!

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    I have never had a problem with gluten-free airline meals in thirty years with one exception - I was served a normal bread roll some years ago. I knew it looked too good and queried it with a flight attendant. Meals have always showed up. I make a point of double checking even though it is in my profile. I have not travelled on many different airlines, mainly Air Canada and Qantas with some British Air. As most flights in Canada and North America do not serve meals on flights up to 5 hours, it is not an issue. The meals provided for ordering in advance are not worth bothering with so I pack a 'picnic'. Easy to do with a ready to eat gluten-free salad from the deli or supermarket or the old staple, sandwiches. No matter where I travel, I take a couple of pieces of fruit, nuts (got caught in a nut free zone once), chocolate  and crackers. Lots of choices!

    Planning is the answer- never travel without backup food! 

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  • 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 2,500 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.


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