26 January 2011


Note: This is in the series of blog posts I wrote about my preparation to move to New Zealand. Although I am already in Auckland, I'll be continuing with this and completing the series in a few weeks. The original date stamps will give you an idea of how time-consuming migration takes. The 'New Zealand' tag will bring up all related posts.

[Originally posted 5/10/2010]
For infrequent air passengers like myself, airline meals have always been a fascinating journey. It’s interesting to see how they squeeze food on to a single tray, and I’ve tasted great and mediocre food. Maybe because I’m not a picky eater, so I haven’t encountered a situation where I left food untouched (with the exception of chocolate and coffee).

But on this next journey to New Zealand, I am planning to request for Special Meals. MAS provides a decent range of special meals, and I’ll probably be going for the LFML meal:
Low Cholesterol/Low Fat Meal (LFML)
These meals are low in total fat and dietary cholesterol, with minimum saturated fat and no added fat or fatty ingredients.

I would have preferred a High Protein meal, but that’s not really an option on any airline.

A low fat meal on Cathay Pacific (source: Nomadic Pinoy)

By far the biggest benefit of ordering Special Meals is that I do not need to wait to be served. Without them, I have to wait for the flight attendants to wheel their cart to my seat before being served. Depending on where you sit, they might have run out of options and you’re stuck with what you don’t want. By specifying a Special Meal in advance, you are usually served ahead of the rest.

Of course, getting stuck with what you don’t want is not solely the domain of Standard Meals. After all, you don’t HAVE a choice with Special Meals – you need to eat whatever is served. And since not many people order Special Meals, there’s the very real possibility that the food comes from a freezer rather than freshly cooked hours before.

I guess the only way is to try it out myself! If you have tried Special Meals before, do share your experience!
[End of original post]

I did order the low fat meal option and didn't regret it one bit. As the flight saw full capacity there were many special meal requests and I didn't get it any quicker than others. But I felt I was served tastier food!

For dinner it was a large piece of lightly grilled salmon (or maybe they just microwaved it) topped with herbed potato wedges and garden vegetables (broccoli and carrot). The salmon was quite tasteless (it took me quite some time to figure it out before the light pink flesh gave it away) but the sides were delicious.

LFML dinner with a little white wine

For breakfast the next morning, while others had to pick between omelette or nasi lemak, I had a nice chicken thigh stew. The tasty gravy helped the baked potato and fresh mushrooms go down very well!

LFML breakfast

And I got healthy canola margarine and fresh fruits instead of pure butter and chocolate cake (though some would disagree that's better).

I wouldn't hesitate to order special meals again. If you decide to do the same, please make sure you reconfirm your request at least 48 hours before departure and once more when you check-in. The Indian couple next to me had requested for a vegetarian meal but didn't follow up, and it got lost somewhere along the line. Lucky for them, they had spare vegetarian meals for the cabin crew and they were given that instead.

As an unrelated tip if you really like airline food, always take daytime flights as we were only served twice in this overnight journey. If you travel long-haul during waking hours you can be sure of being served at least every 2-3 hours.

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