I’ve pondered for a long time whether or not to make this post. It could be easily taken the wrong way, seen as some sort of conspicuous consumption on my part. But, the truth is that I do a lot of travel on business and sometimes, not that often, I get to go business class. Part of that experience is the lounge, with food and drink for which you’ve already paid in the fare. Here are a couple of meals I had on my way to Australia.This first tray is from the lounge at Paris Charles de Gaulle. The sandwiches were explicitly labelled as vegan (in French), and contained roast vegetables. Sometimes they have another vegan sandwich containing guacamole with chunky tomato. They’re both pretty good. Most of the biscuits on offer contained egg (mentioned in the traditional 4pt type, in French only), but the ginger ones shown are fine. Fruit salad is boring, but good, and if there’s dairy in that chocolate, I don’t want to know. The coffee is from a bean-to-cup machine and is excellent.
A 12 hour flight and some footering at the transfer desk brought me to the QANTAS lounge at Hong Kong. At first I thought the pictured offering was all they had for me – Vietnamese spring rolls with a sweet peanut sauce and Tsingtao beer – but they also had a carrot and coconut milk soup which I found later.
On the way back, we were on a flight that left Melbourne at about 11pm, so there was very little food in the lounge. There was bottle-conditioned beer though, and I did want to sleep on the flight. We’d had a blow-out meal at Enlightened Cuisine (strongly recommended) before leaving for the airport. The Air France lounge at Hong Kong is completely useless for vegans. Even worse, every morning at 6am, several 747s arrive from Australia and disgorge their passengers for an hour while they refuel. This is why none of the shops or restaurants open until 7am. We were there for longer, but the only vegetarian-friendly eaterie I could find was landside, where I could not go.
This was particularly frustrating as the only reason I’d had anything to eat on the flight had been because another vegan on board had not been hungry and refused their meal. It did not go to waste. One big problem with Air France is that they don’t pass on special meal requests to codeshare partners, not even KLM who are the same company. On the way out, I’d asked about my meal at the transfer desk at Hong Kong, and fortunately they only need a couple of hours warning there so it was fine. But as I was an Air France passenger, it was not possible for QANTAS to add a note themselves about it.
The leg from Hong Kong to Paris was Air France though, and the food was excellent. I needed it.