Flying United: LHR to ORD
The next trip to the United States was a visit to the largest city of Illinois, Chicago. Flying to this Midwestern City was approximately an 8 hour 45 minute trip, which was plenty of time to enjoy the inflight meals and discover how allergy information is presented to passengers. For these travels, United Airlines was the airline provider and this blog will highlight how they catered for those travelling with allergies.
Two meals were provided during this United Airlines flight. The first of which was made up of a Chicken Risotto, Brown Roll, Butter, Salad and an ice cream for desert. In terms of allergies, the food was individually packaged and provided the following information:
- Chicken Risotto: Gluten (Wheat), Egg and Milk were labelled as allergens.
- Brown Roll: Wheat was labelled as an allergen and sesame seeds were labelled as a may contain allergen.
- Treacle Toffee “Loseley” Ice Cream: Milk was labelled as an allergen.
- Salad: There was no allergy information or ingredients listed on the salad.
Later into the flight, a heated “Pretzel Roll” was provided to the passengers, this was also individually wrapped and contained a full list of ingredients, highlighting wheat and milk as allergens.
In addition to the provided meals, the in flight magazine also lists food items available for purchase ranging from snacks to breakfast, lunch and dinner. Icons highlight vegetarian, gluten free and warm options, but for those travelling with allergies, a note on the bottom of the page advises you to refer to the packaging labels, but also that products “may contain food allergens such as crustacean shellfish, eggs, fish, milk, soybeans, tree nuts or wheat”.
There was a large range of options to choose from the in flight magazine, although some, especially those travelling with a nut allergy, may be concerned that nut products are available for purchase, including: nut snacks, almond oatmeal, a Mezze sampler with almonds and a grilled chicken meal with roasted almonds. This is in contrast to the stand that EasyJet has made, in ceasing the sale of nut products on board their flights. You can read more about the EasyJet nut sale ban can be found in this previously written article.
In general it feels that the meals provided in flight by United Airlines were well labelled, which reduced the stress in travelling with allergies to Chicago. A couple of suggestions to further cater for those travelling with allergies would be to include a full ingredient list for the salad, as it is possible for a passenger may have an allergy to a less common food allergen. The other suggestion is to provide more allergy information regarding the purchasable food items, such as highlighting in bold where allergens, e.g. nuts are present in a meal or using allergy icons in a similar way to how the vegetarian and gluten free icons are currently used, so that those travelling with allergies can quickly eliminate unsuitable options before checking the individual food packaging. Otherwise, I commend United Airlines for providing necessary allergy information on the inflight meals and helping to make travelling with allergies less stressful.