Traveling is not easy, when suffering from fructose malabsorption. Of course I know that. Still, so far I haven’t starved when hopping on a plane. Usually there is the standard “chicken or pasta” choice. Most of the time I go for the chicken to eat the meat at least. When I’m lucky they serve rice with it or a salad without dressing. I peck around in those tiny serving dishes and eat whatever my body tolerates. This time however, I didn’t want to leave things up to chance. I checked the special menus offered by SWISS in advance. I wasn’t expecting to find a menu low in fructose, that would have been somewhat of a revolution. Instead I opted for a gluten-free meal for my journey from Istanbul to Berlin.
“Let us know your desired special meal when booking your flight or contact one of the SWISS agents a minimum of 24 hours prior to departure.” swiss.com
This is the moment when customer service traveling with fructose malabsorption turn into a nightmare.
Why make it easy for the customer to order his or her special needs meal by providing an online form just for this single purpose, when the whole procedure can be turned into an outright hassle for all involved. SWISS must have thought the same. I was offered the choice between calling some computer assisted hotline or filling out an email form with non-related, trivial subjects to choose from. I chose the latter. A big mistake. Apparently SWISS was not able to process their service mails during the four days prior to my flight. I asked about my special meal order at check-in. Negative. What had I expected. Hence, I relied on the “chicken or pasta”-strategy. Mistake number two. On board we got served cake and pasta, meaning an abundance and “no-way-out” supply of wheat, sugar, tomatoes and onions. Nice. Not even pecking around for the good bits was going to get me out of this one. We asked the stewardess if they had any other gluten-free snack, which she denied. But, surprisingly she offered me an apple or a banana from the crew catering. I guess I was really lucky to have her as a stewardess. I wouldn’t have been too surprised if the other crew members wouldn’t have offered me the same. This banana saved me for the rest of the journey. To make matters worse we arrived late in Zurich, didn’t have time to stop for a snack in between flights and on our connecting flight they served, yay, sandwiches. Thank you SWISS, enjoy your meal yourself.
The lesson is clear: Firstly, do not expect too much service, not even from SWISS. Secondly, don’t rely on others when it comes to food. Thirdly, I will definitely take care of my food myself for the upcoming flight back. Any recommendations for healthy, easy to carry-on food on the go?