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What Can Vegetarians Eat On Airline Flights

By: Mark Rifkin
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Being an airline passenger has never been more challenging than it is now. This is even truer for vegetarians as many airlines have eliminated some or all meal options to cut costs in this extremely budget-focused environment. Thus, we called major airlines to determine which offer vegetarian meals.

The results were highly variable. In some cases, airlines only offer meals on long-distance flights or, such as the case of Delta, on those flights to which the airline has applied some set of criteria. Passengers have to call the airline or log onto their website to determine if meals are offered on a particular flight. Some airlines charge meal fees while others donít. Some limit meals to their first class cabins. One carrier, American Airlines, does not offer vegetarian meals but does serve slightly substantial snacks that may include vegetarian foods kept separate from pre-packaged animal products in the same box. In March 2005, the airlines we surveyed indicated the following meal policies:

Codes and Abbreviations: Veg. = Vegetarian with dairy products and/or eggs

1. Meals only served on certain (long-distance or cross-country) flights.
2. Meals served on some flights, but criteria were not explained by the airline.
3. Meals are provided free on first class flights, but an extra meal fee is charged on coach flights.
4. Substantial snacks that may contain vegetarian and non-vegetarian ingredients that can be easily separated.
5. Order meals on the flight.
6. Meals may be different in coach as compared to first class.
7. Meals should be requested at the time of the reservation.
8. Meals must be requested at least six hours prior to flight departure time.
9. Meals must be ordered at least 24 hours prior to flight departure time.

Many airlines recommend that you supply your own food, which may be best because the most reliable source of food that meets your needs is your own kitchen. Policies change frequently, so call your airline to confirm their meal offerings.

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