18 April 2014


 April 18, 2014
United Airlines Boeing 787

I have been meaning to post this since my fabulous friends at United Airlines gave me a sneak peek into their new options for gluten-free travelers late last month.  So let’s just file this in my better late than never category.  I have been traveling quite a bit lately and most recently just flew 10,000+ miles down to Buenos Aires and back (on another airline). While I rarely have issues with gluten-free catering on flights one of my most recent flights (again, not United) had a bit of a hiccup stressing the importance of those of us with celiac disease to always be prepared.  I always travel with gluten-free contingency packs of snacks and things just in case…but thankfully when traveling on United I will actually have gluten-free options in all of their cabins — standard.


Here’s a look at the gluten-free on-board dining options:


Premium Cabins

United has already switched from regular to gluten-free salad dressing on its premium-cabin menu on flights departing the United States to points throughout North and Central America – routes that already have flights offering gluten-free soup. With the new salad dressing, premium-cabin customers may enjoy a complete gluten-free meal on flights where both soup and salad are served.

This is particularly nice because I when food is often plated in the galley or in-advance by catering, it is challenging to know what is exactly in certain items.  Salad dressing and soups we previously on my do not eat list because unless the dressing was served in an individual packet/bottle so I could read the ingredients it was always a no go.  It will be so nice to know that I can sit back and enjoy a worry-free first course.

This summer United will add gluten-free options for premium-cabin customers on long-haul international flights departing the United States, including salad dressing for all premium-cabin customers and soup in United Global First.

This is truly fantastic news because when I fly international I typically prefer premium cabins and while I could get a gluten-free main course in the past — I would have to watch my travel companions enjoy the full service while I always felt a little gipped.

Additionally, United has also replaced regular yogurt with Greek yogurt in premium cabins on flights departing the United States to points throughout North and Central America.  Breakfast is always a challenge and to have something other than fruit will be a nice change.


Main Cabin

United refreshed the contents of its Choice Menu Classic, Savory and Tapas Snack Shop snackboxes with more premium offerings. At least half of the items in each snackbox are now gluten-free.  The Savory snackbox is now completely gluten-free. Snack Shop selections are available for purchase in United Economy on most North and Central America flights scheduled for more than two hours and flights to and from northern South America.  The snack boxes range in price from $7.99-$8.99.

My friends at United were kind enough to send me some sample products out of the new snack boxes to try out.

United Airlines Snack Options

A look at the sample snack items.

What’s nice about the gluten-free options in the various snackboxes it that they are recognizable and already trusted brands and feature clearly labeled ingredients for those of us who rely on reading labels.

Additionally, United offers Two Degrees Fruit & Nut Bars as a gluten-free Snack Shop à la carte option. The fruit and nut bars are also available on the airline’s Choice Menu Bistro on Board, on flights departing after 5:45 a.m. and before 9:45 a.m. Bistro on Board offers fresh food for sale in United Economy on most flights scheduled for more than three-and-a-half hours within North America and to Central and northern South America.

I had never tried the Two Degrees bars before but tossed them in my bag on a recent trip (shhh, don’t tell the other airline) and really enjoyed them — not to mention it was a new gluten-free product find for me.

United is adding Chobani Flip Greek yogurt to the breakfast options on its Bistro on Board menu on p.s. “Premium Service” flights between New York JFK and Los Angeles and New York JFK and San Francisco.  Price: $3.99

I commend United for taking the lead in the major airline arena to recognize the importance of catering to those of us with celiac disease across all of the cabin offerings.  You can learn more about United’s full selection of special meal options on their website.

Let’s face it, there are a lot of airlines out there — just like there are many choices when it comes to travel — and companies who take the lead and get it right like United will benefit from the loyalty of celiacs and travelers with special dietary needs.  I know I am looking forward to my next trip on United.

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