Nac Mac Vegan: adventures in rabbit food


Continental and Northwest: a tale of two curries

Filed under: Airline food — Tags: , , — FeĆ²rag @ 21:06

I’ve just returned from a trip to Boston. Originally the flights were to be on Northwest both ways, but a single flake of snow on the runway at Turnhouse the night before led to a new routing on the way out—EDI-EWR-BOS with Continental.

When we checked in for the new flight, we asked whether my VGML meal request had survived the diversion. The woman at the desk checked, said no and immediately rang up catering to ask is they could stick an additional veggie meal on the flight. They said yes, and all was well. As I boarded, the cabin crew were even talking about the extra special meal for passenger in seat 9A (i.e. me). So I did not appreciate the grudging way it was handed over when I asked about it, and being told I should’ve ordered it in advance (presumably using the Psychic Telephone or something). It was also bloody revolting. One third of the tray consisted of what they described as black-eyed bean masala. What this is is a dry bean curry made with cheap curry powder. The central third was rice, and the other third a similar curry made with the same keg curry powder added to the standard frozen veg mix, a few cashews, raisins (did I mention this was British keg curry?) and a single piece of paneer, even though the packaging indicated that this was supposed to be a vegan meal. This was served with a sad looking salad, with brown lettuce, a ciabatta-style roll thing and a dessert I decided to avoid in case of plane-diverting unwellness.

On arrival at Newark, I was hungry so I checked out a newsstand. Mini Oreos appear to be vegan these days, as far as I can tell, and quite nice with it (Note: this is only the US version. Oreos in the UK contain milk). Also Apple and Cinnamon soy crisps are quite nommy, but none of this makes a balanced meal.

The return was as scheduled, on Northwest to Amsterdam. One of my LJ friends, who needs to be dairy-free and had asked for a vegan meal to be sure, had flown out of Logan on a British Airways flight the day before, and had had a really bad experience, with milk in everything she’d been offered. So, I was a little worried, and had been to Whole Foods to stock up on emergency rations.

The initial snack was vegan, and consisted of a small bag of pretzels. My meal was yet another bean curry, served with rice and a green vegetable of some sort. It came with the traditional sad salad and a (brown) roll. I checked the salad dressing and it was vegan; I checked the spread and there was no hint of any animal ingredients at all; I looked at the fat-free brownie for dessert and it too was utterly vegan. Everything that came with ingredients listed was vegan, so I figure it’s safe to assume everything else was as requested. The curry was as insipid as Continental’s, but at least had some sauce, and the greens were good. The chocolate brownie was a little hard on the teeth. For an economy class meal, this wasn’t too bad.

My best economy class meal experience was last year on Delta, flying between Dublin and JFK. Northwest are now owned by Delta, and they appear to be rebranding them as Delta, so I hope for better food in future.

For the record, my best business class meal experience was on Air France between Paris CDG and Narita; the worst was the return trip between Kansai and Paris.



  1. I shall try not to Nuttolene this blog šŸ™‚

    Do you think that the Vegan Society ‘Vegan Catering for All’ booklet would be helpful to airline contract caterers?

    (WordPress has made an interesting guess what my Web site might be. I have decided it’s wrong, but in a good way.)

    Comment by treaclemine — 20/02/2009 @ 07:49

    • I usually get clueful vegan meals when I ask. The mistakes when they happen are usually in the form of a non-dairy spread which is no such thing. The main problem seems to be a budget of about 35p for these things – maybe they need Jamie Oliver or something!

      This latter problem is even worse for the meat-eaters, who expect their meal to include an expensive ingredient. I’ve had times where my omni partner has craved my meal (Aer Lingus economy – clueful but extremely uninspired).

      Comment by FeĆ²rag — 20/02/2009 @ 11:40

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