The Rules of Flying

In retrospect travelling just short of 8,000 miles to go on holiday to a place with a nine and a half hour time difference and a reputation for chronic cases of diarrhoea was not the most thoroughly thought-through decision that I’ve ever made. And neither was the twenty-hour “express” train from Jaisalmer to Delhi, nor was the lugging back of several steel cooking pans in my suitcase, nor was the going back to work with minimal recovery time, nor was the thinking that I’d get a good burger from room service on my last night in a country that doesn’t eat beef. But above all – the absolute worst decision that I made on the entire trip was eating the plane food on my journey home.

I have three straightforward rules when flying, which maintain my sanity and wellbeing despite frequently having the opposite affect on my travelling companion. The rules are as follows:

1/ Early is happy. Departure to the airport takes place at the designated time having taken into account all possible delays, distractions, disasters and pit stops that could theoretically take place en route. As a child I ran to catch far too many a plane for my always-in-a-rush-father and the resulting later-life trauma has made me a stickler for punctuality.

2/ Try for an upgrade whenever appropriate- and it generally always is. Or in the worst case scenario make sure that you find a seat, which has an empty one next door.

3/ Never eat the plane food. Unless of course the first part of rule number two is deemed a success, as it is well known that food in the front of the plane is far superior to that in Piggery class.

Rule number three is not to imply that I don’t eat on the plane- au contraire. I simply come armed with a bag full of treats that don’t include the bloating and indigestion that are disguised as microwave meals in the food troughs of Piggery. It used to be that when you flew tail-side you were at least presented with a menu that offered you hope but now all you get are the flight attendants threatening you with “chicken or pasta?” giving you no indication whatsoever as to what monster will be placed before you- and yet I so regularly feel compelled to acquiesce just to see what horror lies beneath the foil. Airline food has become so dire that there is now an entire website dedicated to publicising its ghastliness.

If airlines are to get it right then they need to keep things simple. Like my boyfriend in the kitchen- trying to “be creative” does not work when you have 400 passengers to feed at 30,000 feet. I can’t imagine how much waste there must be with what they offer for dinner- and yet when they hand out ‘snacks’ like pizza or ice cream, everyone seems content.

On the plane back from London, I chose the “chicken” option, having stretched my neck as far as possible to peer at what other passengers were eating. Having left my carefully chopped crudités and hummus in the fridge at my sisters flat, I had no other option than to face imminent starvation or face my fears and imminent indigestion. I could have cried on tearing back the foil of my “chicken”, smothered in cream with broccoli that was so overcooked that it had lost its colour and was closer in resemblance to a mash than florets. I couldn’t make out what the dessert was but the list of ingredients printed on the packaging was enough to put anyone with half a care for their heart off, and I am not one for risking on-board cardiac malfunction. And so it was, that after surviving two weeks of trouble-free eating in a country with a less that satisfactory digestion rating I was to find myself at home with a bloated belly and heartburn after an American Airlines dinner.

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2 Responses to “The Rules of Flying”


  1. 1 LB October 26, 2007 at 8:07 am

    I feel your pain… I once had a summer job working in a factory that packed airline food. There were regularly pigeons and other birds flying around. I’d like to say it was enough to put me off for life, but sadly I still tend to eat much of what’s put in front of me. Must be some English conditioning–I feel guilty for leaving it!


  1. 1 Oh, Paula. « London Foodie In New York Trackback on December 9, 2007 at 9:48 pm

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