Gluten Free Flying…TAP Airways

The omens weren’t good. Two days before our TAP flight to Lisbon for the May Bank Holiday weekend I spent 40 minutes waiting on hold on the phone TAP customer services to request my gluten free meal. When I finally got through, they informed me I’d already requested it. Clearly I’m getting old since I don’t remember doing that at all! Then the day before our flight I had to call TAP 3 times in order to ‘check in online’. For some reason I could check my husband in online but not me. Was my special meal request the cause? Maybe.

So when we got onboard and the flight attendant told me my special meal request wasn’t on the passenger list I wasn’t exactly surprised. Luckily that’s where things started to improve. They had the GF meal, it just hadn’t been assigned to me on the passenger list.

Here’s a photo before opening (and yes that is a very generous glass of red wine!):

So what was on the menu?

The silver package contained a warm gluten free toasted sandwich! The filling was a very surprisingly tasty roast beef with tangy cheese. And guess what? It was actually really rather good. I’m not usually a fan of white GF bread as it’s too sugary for me but this one was nice. I don’t know what sort of GF bread TAP Airways use but I’m very tempted to contact them and find out. The bread didn’t crumble at all and was great toasted. Eating it made me remember my once much loved but now retired Breville sandwich toaster. Even the fruit salad was pretty fresh tasting.

Ever wished you could have the tasty, flavoursome meal the other passengers are eating? Well, spare a thought for gluten eating Mr D as the usual in flight catering roles were reversed. The regular meal was a pork and pineapple toasted sub. Perhaps this is a Portuguese delicacy but it reminded him of being a hungry student and raiding the cupboards only to find pineapple chunks to liven up an otherwise boring pork sandwich. I often look enviously at his tasty looking meal as I pick at yet another bland gluten free airline meal. Not this time!

I’m keen to do another trip to South America soon and on the basis of this experience I’d happily fly with TAP to Brazil.

Who’d have thought I’d enjoy a GF inflight meal so much?!

Gluten Free Mrs D


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  1. Stephen
    August 11, 2011 / 10:02 pm

    I’m flying to Lisbon on TAP in a few weeks and I’m hoping to be fed well on the flight.

    I note that you do not have any blog posts about gluten-free eating in Lisbon itself, so I am wondering how you found it. I shall be rather disappointed if I am unable to enjoy a gluten-free pastel de nata/pastel de Belém. The only restaurant that seems to be highlighted as particularly coeliac friendly is La Trattoria, which I think is a bit too expensive for this trip.

    • August 14, 2011 / 1:43 pm

      Hello and thanks for stopping by.

      Have you ordered a gluten free meal on TAP? If not, it’s worth doing so and then reconfirming a day or two before you fly to make sure that it’s on your reservation. I actually quite enjoyed that hot gluten free sandwich!

      From this trip to Lisbon I didn’t post any particular restaurant recommendations. We ate mainly in seafood restaurants (of which there were many) and asked for meals to be adjusted to be gluten free. I didn’t have any problems with this approach but I do recommend taking the Coeliac Travel language cards with you. They did help explain to wait staff what I could and couldn’t eat.

      I didn’t try any pastel de Belém but I hope you find some which are gluten free. Please let me know if you do! Hope you have a very happy trip to Portugal.