I'm not an airplane meal kind of person, but whenever I fly, I faithfully order the gluten-free meals to see what the various airlines are putting out there. Some are more successful than others, but I can't say I'd readily give up bringing my own food on any flight in favor of what I may be served 35,000 feet up in the sky. On a recent flight to Madrid on Delta, I sat there imagining what travesty would be fed to me. I hoped it wasn't fish, because if there is anything worse than a coach airplane meal, it's a steamy, hot (and stinky) fish entree served to coach class passengers. Seriously, who decided fish was ok to serve on planes? The thought of seafood induced food poisoning hitting me halfway through a 3,500 mile journey does not sit well with me (Note to self, make sure to always request no fish in the future).
I didn't have to wait long to find out what I was about to eat, since special meals are always served first, which always makes those around you glance sideways to see what you're eating, like it will be any better than what they get. I was in the lowliest coach class possible, we're talking next to last row with a great view of the bathroom, but I can't imagine that the next level up, premium economy in this case, would be served something better.
My meal consisted of a sad, wilted salad with one tomato slice. No cucumber, though I saw that the gluten eating passengers had cucumber on their salads. Not sure if Delta decided that cucumber was not gluten-free? I also had a fruit salad, that had some tiny pieces of grapefruit that had long since lost their flavor, some grapes and my favorite (note extreme sarcasm), melon. I ate one or two grapes before giving the whole thing a pass. Also sitting on the tray was a solitary rice cake, wrapped in plastic, that I didn't bother with as it seemed stale and just didn't appeal to me at all.
The pièce de résistance was the entree, which consisted of grilled chicken breast, rice, tomato sauce and snow peas. It was edible overall, but defintiely not something I'd ever crave again. The snow peas, which are normally one of my favorite veggies, were microwaved to within an inch of their life and were soggy and sad. The chicken was ok enough for me, but take it with a grain of salt since I was a full cup of chardonay in and well on my way to finishing a vodka cranberry by the time my food had rolled around.
For the breakfast snack served before landing, the rice cake made an appearance again, this time served with honey and a banana. They did give me the wrong meal at first for breakfast, which was a muffin, that I gave the big eye little eye to and didn't touch figuring they made a mistake, which they did. I didn't bother with the rice cake or the banana. It reminded me too much of prisoner food. I can't criticize too harshly, after all it is airline food, but I think many airlines would do better to partner with some of the gluten-free brands out there to provide food that is flavorful, simple and good versus something that is just bland and unappealing. I'd even be willing to shell out a few dollars if that were the case. Until then, I always fly with a sandwich, and some cookies.