How to get served first in economy: choose a special meal

You might find that the special meal is an upgrade on the usual food option

On the whole, long-haul economy food is becoming worse and often you are very limited by choice. Depending where you are seated on the plane, it can take an age to get served, too, and often your first choice is gone and you’re limited to the pasta option or a salad. You might not get your first choice of drink, either.

One solution is to choose from one of the ‘special’ meals made available by your airline. Most of us overlook these choices, but it’s worth taking another look. For example, British Airways offer a ‘low calorie’ meal and it could even be better than your regular economy meal.

The secret is, these special meals are nearly always served first. The cabin crew will prep these individually and bring them to you, before serving the rest of the cabin. Best of all, as they are prepped on a singular basis, you might find your food is more carefully prepared. How many times have you been on a flight to find the beef is not only well done but looks like it was overcooked, too?

Comparing the ‘low calorie’ meal with the regular economy 4-course serving, there was a difference in the other courses, too. Whilst the regular meals came with a sugary slice of cake, the low-calorie option included fruit and a fresh muffin.

There are other meal options and you don’t need to prove you are, say, vegetarian to order the vegatrian meal. As long as it’s pre-ordered in advance (you can’t choose a special meal after boarding), you will be served your choice.  The vegetarian version might offer you a Thai green curry  alternative. The ‘low salt’ meal might offer you pancakes with maple syrup for breakfast, which you’d never receive with an economy breakfast option.

British Airways goes one step further and offers economy flyer the choice of a gourmet meals, for an extra £15-18. Very similar to the meal you’d find on Club World (business class), although it’s worth adding the entire dish is served on one single tray, whereas in business class you’ll find your starter is served, taken away, before your main meal is delivered – much like you’ll find when eating in a restaurant. It also enables you to order a drink top up as you see the cabin crew far more regularly than in economy.

Sadly the gourmet meal option doesn’t allow you access to upgraded drinks, so you’re still stick with the economy drink option. We’d love to see flights offering the facility to purchase upgraded drinks – even Easyjet enable you to purchase champagne, so why do BA limit this to Club World or First flyers?

Make sure you order your special meal at least 24 hours before boarding to guarantee delivery.


About Author

The co-founder of Short Motivation, Chris originates from a technology background, initially developing software and then migrating to the international magazine industry for the last 15 years. The idea for Short Motivation came from travelling through 2011 and eventually became reality six years later, in 2017.