Airlines offer the ability to order special meals on board a flight to accommodate people’s dietary requirements. Catering to a global clientele means the standard chicken or beef offering is not for everyone.

Some people may be on a special diet for health or religious reasons, while others may be particular by choice. Happily these special meals are provided at no extra cost, but what types are there?

Airline Special Meals

The International Air Transport Association or IATA have a list of special meals and their codes in their Cabin Operations Safety Best Practices Guide. These are developed by the Quality and Safety Alliance – In-flight Services (QSAI) and are commonly used by all airlines.

These meal types are all pretty much self explanatory. To place an order for one, you will need to contact your airline in advance of travel. One warning though, having one of these codes in your booking usually means you are ineligible for an operational upgrade.

What Are Special Meals Like?

I’ve ordered a Kosher meal when flying Club Europe on British Airways as I wanted to try something different. To say I was pleased about it is an understatement, as the meal was very nice indeed.

Considering the usual option at the time was a Panini or a sparse salad, the Kosher meal certainly came up trumps. Here’s another one, this time the Fruit Platter Meal on Emirates in business class.

A friend of mine ordered that on a flight from Auckland to Sydney. His verdict was that it was not much different than the Fruit Platter Meal served in economy class on Asiana.

Overall Thoughts

Special meals are designed to cater to the requirements of all passengers. Sometimes people will order them for something different, for example I hear the Asian Vegetarian option is popular as it is spicy and delicious, depending on the airline of course!

Airlines don’t overtly advertise these being available. On board, these meals are usually served first by the crew, prior to the usual trolley service. Now you know why some people seem to be getting special treatment at dinner time!

Have you ever ordered special meals when on a flight? Which ones have you ordered and what have they been like? I hear quality can vary quite a bit. Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

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Featured image via Qantas.