Hello! Welcome to Beyond Soy!
A few months ago I flew on Air Asia, a budget airline that flies within South East Asia. I learned an interesting fact about their in-flight experience that can directly affect someone with a food intolerance, allergy, or sensitivity. Flights on budget airlines are always a little rough as the amenities are sparse, but something on this flight caught my eye: Air Asia prohibits bringing any outside food or drink on board.
I’m pretty sure you are allowed to bring water on board, but no other outside food or drink is allowed. I understand why they would do this from a business standpoint, but this definitely doesn’t help someone flying with a food intolerance.
On a short flight this policy shouldn’t be too much of a problem, but what about a longer flight? Of course, Air Asia offers a wide variety of food for sale. In fact, they even let you pre-book a meal on your flight. Unfortunately, the ingredients of these meals are extremely difficult to determine, so they are a risky proposition when trying to avoid soy.
Air Asia also offers a wide variety of snack-like foods for purchase. These snacks are pre-packaged (things like chips), so it is possible to check their ingredients, but the ingredients aren’t listed in the menu. Also, have your google translate app ready, because the ingredients are likely not listed in English. This presents a difficult scenario: you can’t check the ingredients ahead of time, so you can’t plan what to order if you need to avoid soy. When the food cart comes down the aisle, you can either skip the food and go hungry, take a guess at what might be soy-free, or you can really slow down the food service and ask to check the ingredients of a few products. None of these are great options.
If you find yourself heading toward this situation, we recommend that you try to eat in the airport if possible. Eating before your flight will help avoid the situation of needing to buy food without checking the ingredients. If you do need to buy food, try to narrow down the choices on the menu before asking about ingredients. If you don’t want to hold up the food service for the people behind you, you can always explain your situation to the flight attendant. You can ask that they come back to you when they are finished with all other passengers or suggest that you meet them in galley when they are finished to check the food.
You can also discretely bring your own food onboard, and eat it quietly. Because you have a dietary consideration, the crew should be accepting and understanding of this practice, but it can be a risk since this is against the posted rules.
Flying soy-free on Air Asia might be a little trickier than other airlines, but it isn’t impossible! Enjoy your soy-free travels!