Hello! Welcome to Beyond Soy!
Our usual airport experience goes something like this: arrive a little too early (we don’t want to miss our flight!), get through security, find some sort of soy-free food or snack, and finally board the plane. I recently did quite a bit of flying and had a new opportunity: the chance to visit several airport lounges! Having lounge access was a welcome change to our usual airport routine, but it begged the question: is airport lounge food soy-free?
The first thing that I learned is that airport lounges can vary dramatically between airports. Some only have a few snacks and bottled water while others have buffets of hot food and a full service bar. For our discussion, we’ll break airport lounges into two different types: minimal and full service.
Minimal lounges offer just the minimum in terms of food and drink. Think: bags of peanuts and bottled water. These lounges are short of fresh food, but they do offer some pre-packaged snacks. It is true that pre-packaged snacks frequently contain soy, but it is always worth checking the ingredients in situations like this. The snacks in airport lounges tend to match the airport’s region and, as a result, they might be less likely to contain soy in areas of the world where soy isn’t as prevalent. This also means that the packaging won’t necessarily be in English, so get your translation ready if you are traveling internationally. Airport lounges tend to have wifi so you can google the ingredients on the fly if you need to. Sometimes, instead of pre-packaged snacks, other minimal airport lounges offer only unpackaged cookies or crackers. These are pretty risky foods since you can’t look up ingredients, so I recommend you stay away from unpackaged foods since there is always a chance that they contain soy.
Unlike minimal lounges, full service airport lounges offer a large variety of food. They usually have a full buffet of food that is catered to local tastes and local time (i.e., American breakfast food in the morning at an airport in America). Approach a full service lounge as you would when eating at a buffet: make smart decisions about any breads and sauces, and preferentially choose cheeses, fruits, and/or meats. A full service lounge will likely also offer pre-packaged snacks. Since these have listed ingredients, it’s a good idea to peruse them in addition to the buffet food. Finally, full service airport lounges often have fresh foods like fruit that are great soy-free options. As with the minimal lounges, use the lounge wifi if you need to do any research and don’t be afraid to ask the lounge staff about any ingredients. They may not know the answer right away, but they should be happy to find out for you (although, it’s probably best to just skip any questionable food if you are in an hurry since you might not get an immediate answer).
Airport lounges offer a nice change of pace from the typical airport experience, but it isn’t necessarily any easier to find soy-free options in a lounge than in the rest of the airport. Whether you are visiting a minimal or full service lounge, always remember a backup snack when you fly in case there just happens to be no soy-free food readily available.