Gluten Free Meals on British Airways / American Airlines

Following on from my post on flying with multiple dietary restrictions, here’s what I ate on a recent flight to New York (on a British Airways flight) and what I was provided on the flight back (on an American Airlines code share flight with BA). I’ve indicated whether these gluten free (GFML) meals would also be suitable for dairy, vegetarian and nut free diets:

Outward day flight with British Airways
Meal #1 – Hot lunch: Green bean salad, chicken paella, fruit salad and round brick of gluten free bread

Dairy free: Yes
Vegetarian: Only the green bean salad and fruit salad
Nut free: Yes, but the chicken paella actually had a “may contain nuts” warning. I appear to be OK with “may contain” nuts warnings but I was glad to see this allergy labelling on the meal.

Meal #2 – Sandwich: Smoked salmon and cream cheese sandwich with grapes and raisins

Dairy free: Only grapes and raisins
Vegetarian: Only grapes and raisins
Nut free: Yes
Notes: This sandwich had quite a generous filling and it was just like a homemade packed lunch sandwich in the way it was somehat haphazardly assembled. Perhaps this is a good thing, it certainly wasn’t your average supermarket bought sarnie. Also, thought this was a bit grape heavy! Personally I prefer my grapes in a glass of vino…

Return day flight with American Airlines (code share with BA)
Meal #1 – Breakfast: Omelette containing mushrooms and unidentified cheese with the consistency of milk (not nice) served with cubes of potatoes, carrots and tomatoes with yoghurt, fruit salad and lemon shortbread

Dairy free: Only fruit salad and shortbread were dairy free
Vegetarian: Potentially, but unidentified cheese/milk may not have been
Nut free: Yes
Notes – Shortbread contained following warning.

Meal #2 – Evening Meal: Grilled chicken with rice (contained fresh coriander), grilled courgette and pickled onion, slice of lime. Dessert of fresh melon slices.

Dairy free: Yes
Vegetarian: No, only melon
Nut free: Yes
Notes – This was a bit dry but it was actually pleasantly fresh tasting. Mr D was served a lot of processed, brown coloured food for his meal, including a muffin which contained what we think was cheese. We concluded if you can’t decide what type of cheese it is (even a vague idea), it should always be avoided! On this occasion, it was far better to have the gluten free meal.

In conclusion based on these flights, those with Coeliac/gluten intolerance and a nut allergy are much better catered for than Coeliacs with a dairy intolerance and/or vegetarian. If you are travelling with more than one intolerance / allergy then I highly recommend you take food with you on the flight (subject to customs rules) and choose your airline very carefully.


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  1. December 31, 2012 / 9:51 am

    Well I’ve been having a right back and forth with BA on this issue after my recent rubbish experience and haven’t found them very helpful via email. I would strongly encourage people to contact their airlines about better options for allergy/intolerance as this is the response I got having asked for some feedback on the changes they planned to make based on my complaint. If you don’t ask, you don’t get!

    ” appreciate how important the gluten-free aspect of our catering is for you and other members of the gluten-free community. As mentioned in my previous correspondence I have sent a copy of your email to the senior management of our Catering team. From here your comments will be collated along with any other feedback we receive from our passengers regarding our catering. The feedback is reviewed monthly, if there is a section of the menu that is causing concerns to our passengers, our Catering team will look to improve this area.

    Unfortunately we are unable to instigate change based on one passengers feedback, however if we receive feedback from multiple passengers regarding the same issue, we will look to review the options we have available. Any changes to menu design will take time, as we need to ensure the options have been fully reviewed and tested before we are able to add to the menu. We need to ensure that the choices we have available can be stored and served correctly by the cabin crew. I am sorry but will be unable to provide you with any further feedback regarding your comments, as investigations are carried out on an internal basis.

    With regards to you being able to speak to our Catering team, I am sorry but this is something that we would not be able to arrange. The Catering team are a non-customer based operation and as so I would be unable to arrange contact for you. I would like to assure you we do value the feedback provided by our frequent flyers. As without this feedback we are unable to instigate change. Thank you for bring your concerns to our attention.”

  2. December 31, 2012 / 10:29 am

    Carly – thanks very much for leaving their less than helpful response.

    Totally agree that if you don’t ask, you don’t get and will be contacting them myself about the quality of their gluten free meals. Why, for example, must they serve those bricks of gluten free rolls (see 1st picture) when there are so many better quality alternatives on the market these days? And as for there always being fruit salad for dessert on BA as part of the gluten free meal….

    I would also encourage readers to contact BA to request they review and improve their special meal provision. The BA contact details can be found here: