August 29, 2011

Eating Allergy-Free at the Airport (Terminal 1)

This morning I accompanied my Nut Free, Caffeine Free & Gluten Free cousin, E. to the airport. We woke up at 6:30am, got the new Ballinteer Aircoach line which conveniently passes right outside my front door and glided to the airport in 40minutes tops for €9 (note: If you are new to Dublin, bargain basement airport fare is with Dublin Bus 16A for €2.30 which takes approx. 1.5hours from the South side of the city - or approx. 1hour from the City Centre) only to find the longest check-in line of our lives. Two hours later we reached the desk where they informed us that her flight had been delayed 12 hours! due to a hurricane... UGH! Of course they supplied food vouchers for the day (€7, €8, €15) and we hadn’t had any breakfast before leaving the house so we decided to finally feed the beasts that live in our stomachs but airport prices, choices and service are rarely anything but bad and this morning was no exception.

Terminal 1 (the old terminal) seems to be the forgotten child. I haven’t been in the new terminal yet but I got the distinct feeling that all the good stuff is happening there. We wandered around and checked out the very slim options in Terminal 1's food court which consists of O’Brien’s Sandwich Bar, McDonald’s, 2 canteen style restaurants and a Starbucks. There were very slim pickings for a Vegan at the main canteen outside of sweets or bread, hash-browns and baked beans on the hot tables (and those not even guaranteed Vegan) but their only reference to food allergies was a sign stating:
‘Some of our food items contain nuts and other allergens. There in a small risk that traces of these may be found in other products sold here. NB: Our definition of nuts include sesame seeds. All items subject to availability’

...and nothing that I could find labelled as Gluten free outside of Starbucks which was our beacon in the night. Normally I steer away from the major chains but I have to applaud Starbucks for at least accommodating the Gluten free diet. They have each item clearly marked such as the:
- Granola Bar
- Fairtrade Belgian Chocolate Brownie (note: the ‘Allergies? ask me for wrapped’ notice!)
...and there was also a gluten free labelled sandwich which clearly stated all of the ingredients and any additional allergy warnings.
The sad part was for multi-food allergy sufferers. The Gluten free ‘Roasted Chicken & Green Pesto’ sandwich at Starbucks had a warning stating that it contains Egg, Mustard & Milk. The Irish breakfast options at the largest canteen area were somewhat friendly/workable as long as you’re not Vegetarian but the staff was significantly unhelpful & impatient. The second canteen, ‘The EatingPlace’ was friendlier but are unable to accommodate intricate diets as it is all pre-made & the manager regretted that there was Gluten or Dairy in basically everything on the set menu which never changes (probably not the complete story but it was a bit of a closed-book answer). I did see that they have a yoghurt & fruit option in the early morning with added granola so a dairy tolerant allergy sufferer might be able to work out something there and O’Brien’s Sandwich Bar can definitely be maneuvered to suit a Dairy free diet but as I said earlier: If you are Milk free, Egg free and Gluten free, or something similar, you might be in trouble and should try to plan ahead.


Anonymous said...

We are usually very limited in airports,my daughter has peanut,tree-nut and egg allergies,while travelling we really rely on McDonalds,Burgerking :(

Aurea@Survival Guide said...

oh dear.. it really can be so hard.. you have to be so prepared if you want to stay healthy and full but travelling just doesn't always allow that with unexpected delays and the lot