Air NZ tells allergy passenger 'bring your own food'

  • 10/04/2017
Food being served on-board aircraft.
I'll have what she's having...oh I can't (Getty)

An Air NZ passenger who has food allergies was incensed after the airline told her to bring her own food. 

Sally McGunnigle from Whangarei's recent trip highlighted an increasingly common issue of the lack of food options available on-board aircraft for people with food allergies. 

McGunnigle had told the airline about her dairy-free and gluten-free needs several months before her family of four was due to travel, the Northern Advocate reported.

Also, she wasn't able to eat the fresh fruit due to a stomach issue.

Ms McGunnigle claims she was told by the airline to pack her own food instead, and make sure it met any border control regulations which is standard for anyone with acute dietary restrictions.

Air New Zealand said it can be difficult when you are preparing for thousands of passengers at once.

"These meals are prepared by aviation caterers who prepare meals for numerous different airlines at various ports on our global network so it's necessary for us to provide a set range of options, which we hope will cater to a wide variety of dietary requirements," a spokeswoman said.

Air NZ's website shows different options for travellers with special food needs, from gluten free or low-fat options through to special meals for people with religious dietary requirements.  The options are more restricted on shorter trans-Tasman flights.

The need for more specific meals on-board long haul flights is increasing as more and more people become aware of their allergies, and food to cater for them becomes more accessible.

Emirates airline offers meals such as nom-lactose, diabetic and so-called 'Bland' meals which contain simple ingredients such as toast or potato.

Sean Berenson from Flight Centre said airlines have already made huge progress in this area with some airlines employing celebrity and gourmet chefs to design their menus.

"We predict this trend will continue, and the comfort of economy travellers, in particular, will be high on the list.

Dietary requirements are certainly an area we have already seen a lot of improvement and most airlines will do their best to cater for an individual's needs."

Some airlines offer more than others and travel agents have this information for you to check before making a booking.

Mr Berenson says it's important to give notice, if you ask at the point of checking in, your chance of getting a spare vegan meal are second to none.