Vegan Traveling Part 1 – Airlines
I love getting ready before I start a new journey. One of the first things I do is to make sure I have called the airline and requested a special (vegan) meal in advance (most of the time, they require a 24 hour notice). This has to be done over the phone, even if you have entered your details on your online profile for the airline you’re flying with. While this sounds obvious and easy to do, there are a few thing you should know. If I have a flight with layovers, I only call the airline that is flying the longest portion of the trip. When I was flying from Dubrovnik (Croatia) back to Los Angeles (LAX), I had a stop-over in Zurich (Switzerland). The longest leg of the trip was from Zurich to LAX, operated by Swiss Airlines. I actually booked the trip on United and I flew Croatian Airlines from Dubrovnik to Zurich, and Swiss Airlines from Zurich to LA. The reason I’m saying all this is because I had to call Swiss Airlines, not United, 48 to 24 hours before my flight, which is their policy (*each airline has a different policy).
You also have to make sure the local office hours of the airline you’re calling are within at least the 24 hour window. If your flight leaves at 6AM and you’re planning to call them the day before at 6AM but their office hours don’t start until 8AM, you’re probably not going to be getting your in-flight vegan meal (this may not may be up the person you speak with due to the way this request is set up in their system).
When you talk to the Airline rep, make sure they understand what your dietary restrictions are. Saying you’re vegan doesn’t mean they fully understand what that means. Swiss Airlines calls their vegan meal “vegetarian, no eggs, no milk”. Then, once you get your meal, still make sure there is no other ingredients that are not vegan (honey, etc.).
I always make sure I still bring something to eat (vegan power bar, etc). You don’t want to be in a situation where something goes wrong with your meal and you’re not able to eat anything they have on the plane.
My flight from Dubrovnik was delayed and they rerouted me to a later flight on Swiss Airlines. When this happens, don’t forget to let them know right away that you had requested a special meal. While you’re worried about getting on the next flight and your luggage, don’t forget that they need to bring your vegan meal on to the new plane – so always double check.
*Find the local number for your airline on their website and look at their policy on special meals.