Booking meals – Air travel

Booking meals can be easy or hard, depending on who you have done the booking with.  If its through an agent, it’s a quick call.  If its an airline, be prepared to wait a while on the line before getting through.  Some airlines have a ‘manage my booking’ tool online where you can request certain meals.

hors d'oeuvre as seen aboard Emirates in business class

Most major airlines include meals in the fare on all long haul routes and certain regional and domestic routes.  There are certain meals that can be requested, but not all airlines support each request.  For example, the ‘fruit platter’ meal has been discontinued by a lot of airlines.  (It is now doubtful that you will receive a ‘platter’ of anything unless you are in First Class.)

Here is a generic list of meals that can be requested on major airlines.  We have included the code that would be used by an agent or an airline reservations staff member to book them.  If you know the code it may save a lot of explanation.

Here’s a surprise to many: there are six different variations of vegetarian meal that can be requested, depending on the airline.

Vegetarian Vegan meal  (VGML)

Vegetarian Lacto-ovo meal  (VLML)

Vegetarian Oriental meal  (VOML)

Vegetarian Jain meal  (VJML)

Vegetarian Raw meal  (RVML)  [not highly recommended by my vegetarian passengers]

Vegetarian Hindu meal  (AVML)

There is even a specifically non-vegetarian religious meal (no beef).

Hindu (non vegetarian) meal specific  (HNML)

Our next list includes meals for travellers who need to be specific for health reasons.

Diabetic meal  (DBML)

Gluten intolerant meal  (GFML)

Low calorie meal  (LCML)

Low fat meal  (LFML)

Low salt meal  (LSML)

Low lactose meal  (NLML)

Then there are meals chosen for religious reasons and these are available on almost all major airlines and include:

Kosher meal  (KSML)

Moslem meal  (MOML)  (also referred to as a Halaal meal)

The rest mainly falls under what we could call ‘miscellaneous’.  Our reason for calling it this, as with the exceptions of a baby or child meal, some of these would be chosen out of choice rather than biological or religious requirements.

Bland meal  (BLML)

Baby meal  (BBML)

Child meal  (CHML)

Fruit Platter meal (FPML)

Seafood meal (SFML)

You can now phone up your friendly travel agent and ask for the specific meal code to be booked.  These meals are not available on all airlines so you may have to have a second or third choice, or to decide your airline on the availability of the meal you choose.  (Why not? – It is your money after all.)

There is one meal code we left until last because it is hardly ever confirmed.  This is a SPML (special meal request) where you can stipulate what you want.  With cost cutting at an all-time high in the industry, you are very unlikely to get this confirmed unless you are travelling first-class and the airline is really keen to please.  Passengers allergic to nuts could try this category, but success cannot be guaranteed.  Of course, if you wish to test the limits of how flexible the catering is at your chosen airline, you could get really exotic here, and see what happens…

3 comments for “Booking meals – Air travel

  1. Dusty Trails
    7 September 2011 at 17:56

    Hi folks

    I think it’s great that you have opened up the comments!

    I have already used several of the tips you mentioned in your articles.

    Thanks so much.

  2. DIY Travel Expert
    7 September 2011 at 17:59

    Its a pleasure, glad all is working well.

  3. Dave
    8 September 2011 at 15:15

    Thanks for a most useful sight. I really enjoyed the article on food. I have found when traveling coach class and you are at the back of the cabin, they often have run out of the popular menu choices and you take what you gets. thanks again for an informative web page.
    Cape town

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