I’ve been quiet recently and with good reason (the best reason) – HOLIDAY! We spent a week in Vegas with the Dempsey clan including a sojourn to the World Pole Expo, and then the hub & I spent a second week at Disneyworld & Universal in Orlando. WOW, I hear you say, yes wow! It was so much fun, and amazing to actually take two weeks off work!
But… I hear you ask, what was it like eating vegan there? Well, it wasn’t as easy as the UK where I know what all my go-to options and back up plans for lunch and dinner are. But the worst food we had was undoubtedly on the flight. Hence the name of this post – if you’re vegan, don’t fly Thomas Cook.
**UPDATE** A little over a MONTH after my first complaint, Thomas Cook finally replied. Without saying very much at all. Skip to the end to read their response.
The outbound flight boarded at around 9 am. We’d already had some Jus Rol pastries at the airport waiting around (prep work bitches!) so we were feeling good as we boarded. And then at 11.45am lunch was served. A curry. I mean, out of all the gripes I’m about to list this one was pretty minor, but literally no one starves themselves before a flight because they can’t wait for the airline food. Having literally just finished breakfast, pretty much as soon as we were airborne, it was curry time.
But you know what, the curry tasted good so it was an ok start. Heavy on the rice and low on the veg but flavours were decent. It was served with a side of bread and jam. And followed up with a dessert of bread and jam. That’s right kids, in one meal, we had double bread and jam.
There was also a tiny pack of raisins, the sort you’d give to a kid at school, and some marmite. Also a cracker – to spread with the jam. Or make into a cracker sandwich with the double bread, who knows. Thankfully it did also come with an apple.
It goes downhill from here.
Tea and coffee was served: no soy milk (or anything else).
Afternoon snack: everyone else (who’d paid the same as us) had a cornetto. Vegans – nothing.
The omnis (meat eaters) on the flight had the classic cheese sandwich, egg sandwich, scone, clotted cream etc. The vegans received a familiar sight: double bread and jam! In case you hadn’t yet got tired of the two miniature loaves from earlier, we got two more! I couldn’t face actually eating it, and so passed the time making mini sandwiches and eating my emergency Nakd bars.
We also got a banana, yes food of the gods, but it hadn’t exactly been bubble wrapped as you’ll see from the picture. They did swap it for a better one though.
The Return Flight
Naturally I was feeling suspicious and apprehensive about the flight back, so loaded up on our own snacks and had a big breakfast. As soon as you’re vegan for a week you learn how to sort yourself out in anticipation of a long day. And so it turned out my cautiousness was entirely justified.
It was another curry. Again, heavy on the rice, but as a broccoli fiend I was relieved to get some green on my plate after two weeks in the states. Dessert and sides were bread, crackers and a fruit pot.
This time no jam, instead , “52% vegetable oil whipped spread”. The other 48% of the ingredients were not listed. With minimal options and the knowledge that Thomas Cook would have thrown it away anyway, I took it on faith that the spread they served me in a vegan meal would be vegan.
…then, when I got home, I contacted the manufacturer.
The first thing I spotted on the information sheet I was sent was the claim ‘lactose free’. At that point my heart sank and the rage kicked in. As any vegan (or anyone with basic ingredient and allergen knowledge, say, someone responsible for compiling in flight food at a multinational firm) would know, lactose is just one part of milk, and removing it doesn’t make a product dairy free. Apparently Thomas Cook didn’t have enough fucks to give to check this out.
Sure enough, all the way down the ingredients list, the last ingredient to be listed… was whey. FUCKING WHEY.
Rating: -10/10 for actually not being vegan.
I had pretty low expectations at this point, even without yet knowing about the whey-spread. Again, it was another fail at basic veganism, as I was served an oats & honey cereal bar, another pot of fruit (sort of on the fizzy side of ripe) and some orange juice.
As soon as the steward handed me the bag, I said, ‘excuse me, this isn’t actually vegan’. Super polite. Her response: ‘Well, that’s what I’ve been given.” No apology or attempt to rectify it, or even to ask why it isn’t vegan so they get it right next time. Did not give one shit. She didn’t even look at me as she replied, it was a pretty strong brush off. Fortunately, after having been cramped in that tiny plane (don’t even get me started on the oxymoron that is ‘leg room’ on that flight) I felt so sick that I didn’t want to eat anyway. So we’re all winners aren’t we.
Rating: -15/10 for both the fact that it wasn’t vegan and for not caring that it wasn’t vegan.
I contacted Thomas Cook twice with my complaints and advising then I was working on this write up, but their response time for a complaint is 28 days. So they either receive a LOT of complaints, or there’s like one person responding to them all. Either way it doesn’t look good, and after three weeks of waiting I decided I’d given them long enough. I’ll update this post if they ever do respond.
Overall, it’s a grand total of -16 points out of a possible 60. And I didn’t even deduct anything for no soy milk on the return flight either, as at this point in the game it would be like kicking a puppy. And that wouldn’t be very vegan.
**THOMAS COOK’S RESPONSE** (Dated 13th October)
Amount of fucks given = 0.
Dear Miss Dempsey
Thanks for getting in touch us about your holiday to Florida. I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy your in-flight meals.
We work hard to offer a choice of food for you to enjoy and offer meals to suit all tastes but it is hard to find options for everyone to enjoy. Considering the number of customers that fly with us and the feedback we’ve received about our meals, I’m sorry these were not to your liking.
We want you to know how much we value your feedback and we’re really sorry you weren’t happy.
We hope you continue to travel with us and will use your feedback to improve the service we offer our customers.
No apology for THE FOOD NOT EVEN BEING VEGAN.
No apology for zero help from the steward.
I’ve naturally kicked off at them again but they just don’t care enough to reply. Imagine if they hurt your child or lost your luggage or something – it’s literally the slowest and least arsed “customer service” I’ve experienced in my life.
3 thoughts on “Thomas Cook vegan food isn’t vegan”
Sounds like a complete fail on Thomas Cook’s part 😦 I don’t often compliment companies – but praise where praise is due – my recent flight transatlantic with Virgin was EXCELLENT in terms of the inflight food. Everything provided was indeed Vegan (as I’d requested) – the hot food was very tasty, well made, and not just a cobbled-together “meat free” version of the food others were having. The snacks and all accompaniments were all fully Vegan, and as I was having a “special” meal, I got served first as well! Sorry that doesn’t make your experience any less aggravating, but was very pleased with Virgin’s attempt, and will be happy in the knowledge that future flights will be as good (fingers crossed!)
Hey Stephen! I flew Virgin Atlantic as a vegetarian and they were fantastic, the food was genuinely tasty and always an alternative – I haven’t tried them as a vegan but next time I fly long haul based on your experience too I would definitely try them over Thomas Cook!