Plane food, not plain food…

Being a vegetarian I requested a “special meal” when I booked my flight to Australia with Emirates. On the one hand, it was great as it meant I got my food before everyone else having the standard meal (eating is, after all, one of the best ways to pass the time on a long journey).

But it was also not so great, as Emirates has recently stopped serving a vegetarian option and now only serves a vegan meal. I assume the reason for this, is that it’s easier for the cabin crew to prepare fewer different types of special meal. And considering there are already fourteen different special meals, I can empathise with them.

They range from religious meals (Hindu, Kosher, Muslim, Jain and an Asian vegetarian option) to health-related or allergy/intolerance specific meals (bland, diabetic, gluten-free, low-cholestol/low-fat, low-sodium, lactose-free). There’s even the option of a raw vegetable meal or fruit platter.

I’m not at all averse to eating vegan food, don’t get me wrong. In fact, I often try to eat vegan for a one day a week and I generally love vegan meals. But the aeroplane food was made far too hot. And by hot I mean fresh chilli hot! I know Emirates is a Middle Eastern airline (and again, I generally love Middle Eastern food), but hot and spicy food is not what you necessarily want to eat when you’re travelling long-haul. Or maybe that’s just me?

Here are the meals that were served on both of my flights and just for a bit of fun, I thought I’d give them each a rating out of ten.

Dinner (Gatwick to Dubai)

  • Vegetable curry with basmati rice and soya beans with fresh chilli(!)
  • Green salad: cucumber, lettuce and tomato
  • Fruit salad: two types of melon and pineapple
  • Raisin boxes x 2
  • Still water


My rating: 6/10

I just wasn’t feeling hungry when this meal was served (at midnight GMT!). I’d eaten a huge bowl of pasta at home before I’d left for the airport so to be fair I didn’t really need another meal. However, it was something to do… The curry was simply too hot for me and I avoided eating the chilli with the soya beans. The rice tasted nice, sort of fragrant – maybe jasmine rice?

The salad and fruit were very welcome and refreshing. I did think the little raisin boxes were a slightly odd choice. It looked to me as though they had just forgotten to plan a vegan dessert so just bunged in one of the kids’ options! I wasn’t complaining though as I did eat them.

Lunch (Dubai to Perth)

  • Ravioli (tasted like cheese so it possibly contained vegan cheese?) with tomato sauce, vegetables and pesto
  • Wholemeal bread roll
  • Hummus with cucumber and a stuffed vine leaf
  • Orange segments
  • Still water
  • Vegan spread
  • Vegan milk substitute


My rating: 8/10

This was probably the best meal I ate during my journey. It was good to have something cheesy, even if it was vegan cheese. I do think simple food is best when you’re travelling and this ravioli with tomato hit the spot.

I was also pleased to get a bread roll as the meal on the previous flight didn’t include one with the vegan meal (everyone else got one). Usually I find the white bread rolls you get on flights are quite bloating, but the wholemeal is much better.

I am a big hummus fan so was excited by the hummus and vine leaf combo (saddo!). And of course, you can’t go wrong with fruit so the orange pieces were much appreciated.

Out of curiosity I used the vegan creamer in my cup of tea but in hindsight it was a mistake as it was a powder and it just kind of went into lumps – pretty gross! I didn’t use the vegan spread, as I’m not really bothered about butter/margarine on bread.

Dinner (Dubai to Perth)

  • Thai green curry noodles with mixed vegetables
  • Wholemeal bread roll
  • Baba ganoush with tomato and cucumber
  • Raspberry purée
  • Water
  • Vegan spread
  • Vegan milk substitute


My rating: 7/10

Apologies for the poor image quality – this meal was served at night time (WA time, I guess?) when the lights were switched off, so it was difficult to get a clear photo!

Although it was fairly hot being a Thai green curry, the noodles tasted nice and there was a good selection of vegetables (broccoli, baby corn, cauliflower and pak choi). The wholemeal roll with baba ganoush was an excellent combination – I love baba ganoush almost as much as I love hummus!

The raspberry purée was okay but perhaps a bit too sweet. After having not eaten anything so sweet for a few hours and as I was starting to feel the jet lag, it gave me a bit of a sugar rush (but maybe that was the point?!).

This time avoided putting the vegan creamer in my tea and stuck with regular dairy milk in my tea – lesson learned!

So, in conclusion, the food served on Emirates flights to Dubai and Perth was a pretty high standard in my opinion. In the past I’ve had some bad experiences with aeroplane meals, so I was pleasantly surprised to find these were edible!

As I said in my previous post, I think the cabin crew do a great job and I have a huge amount of respect for them staying so calm and friendly in the face of rude/obnoxious/ill/anxious passengers, plus the fact they have several different meals to serve (I forgot to mention children’s meals).

I was impressed that my “special” meal was brought to me without me having to ask as usually I’ve had to make the cabin crew aware that I was having something different. Emirates were much more efficient.

My next flight is a domestic flight from Perth to Melbourne, which although I booked it with Emirates, will be operated by Qantas. I believe I have a lacto-ovo vegetarian meal booked  (in other words, a vegetarian meal with dairy and/or eggs). It will be interesting to see how this compares!

What’s your experience of aeroplane food? Good or bad?


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