Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Travel Tips #3: Airline Food

EVA Elite Class "middle of the night" meal, after a late take-off
The last time I flew across the USA it was on a domestic airline. It doesn't need to be singled out here as most have a similar policy regarding their passengers; that being "load 'em in, move 'em out".  The theme from the 1959-65 TV show "Rawhide" sometimes comes to mind as I'm herded aboard and packed into my seat, but that's more of a personal quirk, I suppose.

I'm not as slim as I once was, but my sidebars don't hang over several inches into the seat next to me - or seats, if the Universe is unhappy with me and the draw puts me between two people. I do my best to make my seating arrangements in a timely manner, but a couple of times I've been packed very much like a sardine, once between two men who were closing in on 300 pounds each.  I didn't have space to take a deep breath during the entire flight. I got up and walked around a lot.

Back to the topic of airline food, some airlines will sell you what I've come to know as an Insults In A Box; what they generously themselves call "meal choices", often consisting of precious little more than variations on the four pre-packaged items in the top photo today.  Five, if you want to count the sealed napkin. For this you pay $5US. Sometimes there's a packaged sandwich or salad, but that's closing in on twice as much.

The proper meal examples I've felt justified sharing are from recent flights on EVA, the Taiwan-based airline. Along with the damp towels, water, coffee, tea, nuts, cookies and other snacks provided throughout the flight, they also feed you a proper meal - two if you're on a longer flight - and that's built into a ticket price that's competitive with United and some other US airlines.  I was on a red-eye flight and was frankly more interested in going to sleep when the stewardess arrived with a choice of meals at 01:20 in the morning, but I ate some and tucked the non-perishables into my carry-on for later. The photo isn't great, but I took it using my reading light.

As we were approaching Taipei for our transfer eight hours later they served your choice of two breakfast meals. Mine's below, again taken with my reading light.

EVA Elite Class omelet breakfast
On another trip I was in economy class for one of the shorter legs of the journey, and while the economy meal isn't quite as nice as the Evergreen/Elite class, it's still better than the Insult In A Box...

EVA Economy meal out of Bangkok: Pork, rice and egg

The moral of today's tale is this: check with your airline and ask for clarification on the meals the airline provides.  If they're like EVA, it's actually too much - I don't eat all of it when I'm on a 12 hour flight with no way to help it digest.

If they serve the "snack box", buy something of your own that you'll find palatable and take that along, even if it means buying a sandwich past the security gates of the airport. That's going to be expensive, and I really don't need all that much to hold body and soul together until my first meal after landing.  Oftentimes I have a bit of a layover in Taipei, and there's a nice noodle place with plenty of seating in the Taoyuan Airport.  I can often be found there reading and slurping noodles like these:

Taipei beef noodles with egg, bok choy and green onion
One last thing already covered in the post about staying healthy on planes: wash your hands before eating, as everything you've touched along the way has been previously touched by a thousand others.  How's that for a happy thought to close with today?


krobbie said...

Airline food ... hmmm. I usually travel on Thai in economy, so I am not expecting haute cusine.

I always sit in row 34K (right hand side, window seat) as with my disability I find this to be just far enough back in economy to be out of the "baby zone" but far enough forward so I don't have far to go to get to my seat.

I usually board first with other disabled passengers so that gives me time to change into my "flying outfit', purchased at great expenses (not) at Jatuchak market. These are white cotton pants and a matching white cotton shirt. Comfort is key.

Later ... By the time the meal cart gets to me the chicken option is invariably not an option, as it has been ordered by all those in the rows behind that get served first.

I am left usually with fish. I say thank you but "I no like". This either means I will wait another 4 hours for a sandwich or wait until breakfast time. Quite often though, the crew feels sorry for the poor man in 34K with one leg and gets me a meal from business class.

I may only have one leg but I'm not without a brain.

Cheers, Bao-bao,

Anonymous said...

Airline food........I must admit I have always enjoyed the food/snacks I have received while high above the clouds.

I have flown various airlines to/from Thailand and its while on route to Bangkok and having just eaten a meal and relaxing with a nice glass or two of red wine while watching a movie, that is when I feel the holiday has just began and I get into the holiday spirit.

All the best

khunbaobao said...

Oh, absolutely - the excitement of going on a vacation can make even the final leg of a long set of flights seem nice. It's a special feeling, knowing you're close to arriving back in Thailand.