Monday, August 17, 2015

Food Allergies?

One week to go - oy!

This weekend I didn't do a whole lot of planning or prepping for my trip to Britain because I was prepping for my trip to Hawaii immediately following.  (I'll only have a day in between trips, so I need to prep for that trip too!)

I did manage to get my passport out of the safe and give that information to Virgin Atlantic.  After you fill out that information, it asks you a few other questions so that they can be as accommodating as possible.  One of the questions had to do with dietary requirements.

For those of you who don't know me or have gone out to eat with me, I like food! (My last post about my size is proof enough of that.)  However, I do have a lot of food allergies.

Like...a lot of food allergies.  And weird ones too.  Apples, pears, carrots, goes on.  Some of my friends will poke fun at me and say that I'm allergic to basically everything except water.  (But they don't say air - there's pollen and dust in the air and I'm super allergic to those too.)

The flight dietary requirements has almost everything you'd ever hope to see offered for in-flight menus:

I don't even know what some of those options would consist of, but hats off to Virgin for being so accommodating.

BUT the one thing missing from this form though is a place to list allergens.

I looked online to see if I could find the menu that they'll be using next week, but no luck there.  I did however find a sample menu on their website:
  • Starter: 
    • White radish and mixed leaf salad - Crunchy, nutty salad leaves with the light pepper punch of white radish. With a herb dressing.
      • Radishes are okay, but I'm allergic to nuts.  Do you mean to say that the leaves naturally taste nutty, or are you using nuts in the salad?  And are you using tarragon in the dressing?  I'm allergic to that too.
  • Main Course
    • Seasonal beef stew - Full of fresh seasonal vegetables and juicy beef chunks, this is a hearty family favourite. With green beans and horseradish dumplings.
      • Seasonal vegetables?  I'm allergic to carrots.  I'm also slightly allergic to green beans.
    • Fragrant chicken noodles - Tender chicken pieces mixed with egg noodles infused with a creamy coconut and lime sauce.
      • That one sounds doable, even if I'm not sold on the coconut and lime sauce.
    • Roasted squash risotto (V) - Butternut squash roasted with sage, blended with a silky cheese risotto.
      • I feel like in most butternut squash dishes, they include pine nuts to invoke a richer and nuttier taste.  Any way to get a confirmation on that?
  • Bread: Your choice of oven-baked bread rolls.
      • YES!  I like bread.  Just no nuts or sesame.
  • Pudding: Cappuccino mousse. Indulgent coffee and chocolate mousse on a light sponge base.
      • Also doable, just can't overdo the dairy (or the coffee) otherwise I'll spend an hour in the lavatory.  (I am of the 20% of people that has to poop after drinking coffee.)
  • Liqueur service to end your meal perfectly.
      • Yes.  This is what I signed up for. 
Anyway, so you get the idea.

Since there was no form to list allergens, I went to see if I could talk with a representative about my options, or see if there was a menu available somewhere. It was an international number, so I decided against calling.  Then I saw an option to email a representative, so I figured that would be the most cost effective way to go.

After composing a message through a form on their website, I hit "submit" and was presented with a confirmation screen.  The fine print under the confirmation said: “We do get a lot of messages, so please bear with us.  We'll make sure we get back to you within 28 days, if not before”.

Twenty-eight days?  My host has mentioned to me on multiple occasions that British customer service leaves a lot to be desired, but twenty-eight days?  Four weeks?  Holy cow!  I'll be back in the States by then.

None of my allergies are super severe (except for maybe soy products like tofu or soybeans - my throat swells and I have a hard time talking for hours after), but I still carry Benadryl and an epi-pen on my person at all times when I'm out.  Usually I'm okay with picking a menu item and then picking around the stuff I'm allergic to (as long as it's not fully integrated into the meal), so I think that's just what I'm gonna have to do.

If I do hear back from the airline about my options I'll let you know!

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