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Someone who is suffering badly from reflux, they are on a very boring diet that excludes everything spicy, fried, fat etc. What is the best option to choose from for the in flight meals that one can pre order before their flight?

Do all airlines provide the same selection or it may be airline specific? The flight is with Qatar: Sydney to Doha.

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They might consider special ordering a bland meal from Qatar Airways (insert "aren't normal airplane meals bland?" joke here):

Bland Meal (BLML) - This meal is for customers who prefer light and easily digestible foods that are low in fat and help prevent gastric discomfort. It may contain: Low-fat food items such as boiled meats, soft vegetables, mashed potatoes, milk, dairy products and steamed or poached prepared foods as a cooking style. Does not contain: Fried or fatty foods, nuts, garlic, onions, strong scented spice, pickles and mustard.

Every airline is a bit different. Not all may offer a bland meal and not all may use the same definition (they may also be combined; there's no guarantee that a bland meal won't also, hypothetically, be vegan). You might contact the airline's disability services office for further information on their specific policies, though specific menu details generally aren't available in advance.

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    I once accidentally selected this option when checking into Qatar Airways. A flight attendant approached me at the beginning of the flight asking why would I choose such an option. I told him it was unintentional and they gave me a normal meal : ) – jigglypuff Jun 12 at 4:17
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    Ouch. Easy digestible meal that can contain milk, a substance that 2/3 of humanity can't digest. – Rg7x gW6a cQ3g Jun 12 at 6:35
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    @Rg7xgW6acQ3g if you're specifically Lactose intolerant they have a separate special meal for that. – Dustybin80 Jun 12 at 14:27
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    @Dustybin80 it is called Blandest Meal (BLestML) – undefined Jun 12 at 15:44
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    @user71659 By virtue of being a mostly white country, the US has a much higher large of the population who can digest lactose. It's no surprise medical guidelines developed in the US overlooks the dietary needs of other populations. So no, QA isn't to blame, it's just the guidelines that are bad. – Azor Ahai Jun 12 at 19:39
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The best option is: buy you own food (in advance).

Airlines have different options, and non-spicy is often a default (but there are other extra options): nobody wants to give children too spicy food. And spicy in general is not so good for air travels.

Unfortunately, it seems to me that often they forget such options, or it is far worse than the normal menu (vegetarian is sometimes an exception).

I would recommend you to buy some alternative food, and then mix with what they give you (e.g. fruits and salads, etc.).

A few weeks before your travel you should check regular menus on the airline's website, you may want to change it (e.g. from/to vegetarian). Unfortunately you never see special menus, and you may change special menu only with long advance notice. [But so, be prepared with your own food. A flight delay will "erase" all your special foods].

For the other question:

Menus and codes are standardized by IATA (about what may and must not contain, not the real menu), and sent coded in the ticket information. The list is long, but usually airlines will offer only few of them (and often a very blended and reduced one, which covers many options, as a fruit salad and nothing more).

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    Beware that brining your own meal through security can be difficult, since many common meal items (sauces, soups etc) are banned under liquid/gel restrictions, and they will likely not be able to heat anything either. Sandwiches and the like are fine though. – lambshaanxy Jun 11 at 12:21
  • I have generally stopped eating airplane food (I just bring my own: eggs, sandwiches, fruits, nuts, whatever). I feel much better. Airplane food should just be avoided (unless you are in business ;) – jerlich Jun 11 at 19:34
  • and even special meals are often not as advertised. I have Type 2 diabetes so always order the diabetic meal when offered. Last several flights it ALWAYS had a lot of sugary and starchy stuff in it. Fruit, cake, cookies, pasta, rice, potatoes formed the bulk of every meal. – jwenting Jun 12 at 3:47
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    This takes the medal. For people with food restrictions, expecting random other people to prepare food to suit their requirements is a pipe dream. That is especially so when the other is not in the food business and handles food only as a sideline; Qatar flies airplanes for a living. They are competent at NOTAMs, not gluten. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Jun 12 at 15:33
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    @Harper: OTOH the catering is sub-contracted to specialized companies. Often, if you get the correct meal, it is as expected (gluten-free all in plastic bags, to avoid contamination). Just they expertise, the "logistic" part, fails. Often the correct meal is not loaded in your flight. – Giacomo Catenazzi Jun 12 at 15:39

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