I am just back from three weeks in the States and have been suffering at the hands of airline caterers again. I’m quite disappointed, because the airlines I chose, Air France and Delta, are ones which have previously fed me rather well.
This first meal was served to me on an Air France flight from Paris CDG to Seattle-Tacoma on May 8th.
VGML meal served in Air France economy class CDG-SEA
It was technically the second meal of the flight – a light lunch prior to landing. My first meal went astray due to a game of musical chairs played at Edinburgh, and then at the gate – the cabin crew couldn’t find me. Travel hint: if you have your seat changed, let the cabin crew know where you were originally seated, and where you are now.
By lunch time, they knew where I was, and I got my special meal. It wasn’t bad – roast vegetables and couscous, with a fruit strudel and a piece of wonderful dark chocolate to follow. I only have one complaint about this meal, and that was the spread which contained milk powder. It was only possible to determine this by reading French in 2pt white type on a pale green background.
My next journey was by train, from Seattle to Portland. It took forever given the distance, but was just about quicker than flying if you take into account travel to and from airports, time for security etc. I raided Uwajimaya and had a nice selection of Japanese goodies to keep me going. There was some vegan food available in the buffet, in the form of hummus and crackers, and some interesting microbrews.
The big-name airlines in the US are trying to compete with the likes of Southwest (the airline on which easyJet modelled itself), without the smiles, so there was no food on any of the domestic flights. No food, but they were still happy to leave an aircraft on stand for 90 minutes, not doing anything and just costing them money. The state of vegan food at the airports was dire, too. I managed a peanut butter and jam sandwich at Baltimore, which might have been vegan (I wasn’t going to ask at this point, due to hunger). It was far too sweet for me, but it did fill me up.
And so, eventually, I made my way home via JFK to Edinburgh on a Delta 757. Alas, they seem to have acquired Northwest’s caterers for this is what they think constitutes a good vegan meal:
Vegan meal served on a Delta flight between JFK and EDI, May 26th 2009.
It was awful.
It was simply boiled vegetables with white rice, a green salad, a roll and a fruit salad. They had contrived to simultaneously over- and under-cook the vegetables. They were cooked for long enough to lose their colour and flavour, but were still hard. Even the mushrooms were boiled. The only flavouring used was an excess of salt in the rice. The salad was just as flavourless and the main ingredient in the dressing was high fructose corn syrup. The roll looks as if it would be quite tasty, but I was not able to find out, as the spread was another dairy one, containing whey and other milk-derived ingredients. It was even marked Kosher-dairy, and it wasn’t because the rabbis were being paranoid about stuff made in the same factory as dairy products.
The fruit salad was the only thing I ate. It wasn’t that bad.
I wonder if I’d been given a vegetarian low-fat meal instead of the one I asked for?
There was no special breakfast available, but the standard offering included a bagel and a banana. Banana is quite nice spread on a bagel.