When airlines get it right

I’m back! Hello Londoners 🙂

Unlike the outbound journey to Australia (of which I will spare you the details), the inbound flight was pretty uneventful. I watched three movies (Lovelaceaverage but interesting; The Battle of the Sexes, interesting feature-length documentary; and The Butler, which I thought was good but not spectacular – basically a little civil rights fest in my nest over the rainbow), slept about 5 or 6 hours in total, stretched my hamstrings and wiggled my toes a lot, and got visited by a very vivacious snack monster. As much as I was annoyed at not having more unhealthy snacks to satisfy it with, I’m secretly really glad I didn’t or my body would still be hating me right now.

Also – dare I say it – the aeroplane food was really good! You might remember the incident on my last trip where Qantas thoughtfully included Quorn in their vegan meal. Not. Impressed. I’m a once-bitten-once-shy kinda girl, so I was ready for the worst. I was also uninspired to make a transportable snack on the morning of travel, and I knew that Sydney Airport was pretty useless for food, but I also knew it was my duty to try out the brown rice and tofu salad I had spied in Sydney Central station on our arrival.Sydney brown rice tofu salad

That’s right – I found a vegan salad which was more than just a green side-salad – and in Sydney Central of all places. Now most places of transit are pretty bad for food, especially vegan food or anything healthy, but Sydney Central is particularly bleak. Even though I wanted to try this salad, I wasn’t holding my breath for anything overly tasty, which might be part of the reason it blew me away so much. That, and I’m a sucker for sweet chewy tofu and sushi rice. And soy sauce. It was basically deconstructed brown rice sushi. At AU$9 (£6), it’s not cheap, but it’s tasty and satisfying and a little different.

Pure barThe snack monster reared its sugary head right about now, so I had the little packet of grapes I had brought before I’d even remembered to take a photo, and attacked my Pure bar before even getting on the plane. I knew it wouldn’t last long even if it made it past the gate anyway. It was OK – just a standard mushed-fruit-and-nut sort of bar with a little added protein.

Ben and I really enjoyed getting a fruit platter for at least one of us, for at least one leg of the flight. I always want something sweet, and sometimes you really want something wet and crunchy. This time, Ben had booked all fruit platters for me and all vegan meals for him to Dubai, then the reverse from Dubai to London – either way, I tend to eat all his food we tend to swap bits of our platters with each other so it doesn’t matter whose name it on it.

The first fruit platter was actually super tasty. Everything was sweet and ripe and juicy, and the pot of peaches and pears were in juice rather than in syrup which got a thumbs up from me.
Qantas fruit platter

Ben’s vegan meal looked tasty, too. Pasta with tomato and veggie sauce which he said was good, a pot of baby spinach with a tasty herb dressing (which I ate), a packet of vegan gluten-free Anzac biscuits which he said were tasty (though not as good as my grandma’s, obviously), and the ubiquitous bread roll and spread. I’ll admit, I was jealous!

Qantas vegan meal 1

After a few hours, during which I was given a snack pack containing an apple and a plum (Ben never got his, weirdly), I was feeling a bit fruited-out when the next fruit platter came out. I didn’t take a photo because once you’ve seen one fruit platter you’ve pretty much seen them all. Luckily for me, Ben didn’t enjoy his rice and tofu meal – I enjoyed it, but I can see how it might not be to everyone’s tastes. He got some grapes (which I ate too), and another Rowie’s Cakes treat – some sort of nutty apricot and cranberry (?) cookie cake thing which I also ate and enjoyed hugely. Very impressed!
Qantas vegan meal 2

Although we were served 2 meals on the London-Dubai flight on the way out, we were only served 1 meal on the Dubai-London leg (apart from a chicken wrap which they brought out while I was asleep). They had some tamari almonds available for snacking which were delicious, and some toasted lavosh/lavash snack bags which I didn’t try but which were also vegan. Qantas is still winning!

Breakfast was brought out a couple of hours before landing, but I only took a photo after Ben and I had done our swapping. His fruit platter had the dried mango (with added sugar and sulphites which isn’t cool, but it was tasty as hell so I’m not complaining), and mine had a roll and some spread and marmalade (in a little jar!) which I gave him. I have to say, my potato and beans was perfectly cooked and not floury at all, and the veggies were all perfectly seasoned. I am really, really impressed.Qantas vegan meal 3Nothing upset my stomach, I didn’t feel bloated or thirsty or gross, both on and off the flight. In fact, despite the lack of sleep I actually felt pretty great all day and found myself rearranging kitchen cupboards and catching up on work emails after having unpacked and done the grocery shopping.

I’m not quite done with the holiday stuff yet though, so stay tuned for my top tips for surviving long-haul flights – I hope you’ll find them useful!

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4 thoughts on “When airlines get it right

  1. Cadry's Kitchen says:

    That’s pretty impressive for airplane meals! I always feel like such a rockstar on international flights since they bring out the special meals first. I hadn’t thought about or don’t know if I’ve ever seen a fruit plate for request, but I’ll have to keep that in mind for next time. Like you, I’ve been burned on occasion by airlines either forgetting our vegan meals or flights getting changed and suddenly not being on the plane that was expecting us. So I always pack enough food to make it through without their meals, and then if they remember us, it’s a bonus warm meal. The one 14 hour flight with only a package of potato chips to sustain us made a big impact on my memory!

    • greatveganexpectations says:

      14 hours with only a packet of chips?! I would probably get myself arrested at passport control I’d be so cranky by that time! Though usually Ben keeps some snacks handy because he knows what happens when I get hungry 😉 I’ve been really impressed at the options some airlines offer now – and that they think to add a sachet of creamer or a little pot of soy milk for when the hot drinks come round – I’ll admit that sometimes when I smell all the warm food as I stare at my platter of fruit, but I feel so much better for having it!

  2. Hannah (BitterSweet) says:

    Wow, it really is a brave new world for vegan eats out there, on the ground and in the skies! I wish more airlines would hurry up and adopt more alternative options, especially for those agonizingly long fights. It’s such a pain to have snacks and meals taking up half of the precious space in your carry-on bag!

    • greatveganexpectations says:

      You’re right, vegan options seem to be increasing exponentially, it’s so exciting! Luckily in-flight entertainment has come so far (and my need for sleep has increased so much) that I no longer need a multitude of books and activities to make the time pass, but it would still be nice not to have to choose between food or a good book (or a light bag!) at times!

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