More than just pie in the sky

PENNY PINCHER: From now on I think it'll be fresh fruit and homemade sandwiches for me.
PENNY PINCHER: From now on I think it'll be fresh fruit and homemade sandwiches for me.

There's no denying New Zealanders are suckers for a meat pie, especially flying at 40,000 feet on an empty stomach.

I discovered this on a Virgin Australia flight from Sydney to Auckland earlier this year.

It was my first time flying with Virgin and during the booking process I ticked the no-frills option without realising it came with no food or inflight entertainment.

Halfway into the flight the crew started serving food and beverages to a smattering of passengers. It dawned on me I would not be one of those lucky few who got to feast on mini-rolls and lukewarm casserole.

My tummy started to rumble as the aromas wafted through the cabin. The trolley reached my row and I frantically checked my wallet and scanned the menu - $10 for a sandwich or $12 for a "gourmet pie".

I caved and went for the pie. While it's delicious, I'm not sure I would ever pay that much for a pie again.

I've never been one to take my own food on planes but ever since my flying pie incident that's going to change.

The cost of a meal, drinks and inflight entertainment can add about $100 to a return airfare.

Looking at the major airlines' policies, there appear to be very few rules about bringing your own food.

Obviously all food taken onboard an international flight must be consumed or left onboard the aircraft because of quarantine regulations.

It must also adhere to the Aviation Security Service's aerosols, gels and liquids rules. So no soup! Unless it's less than 100 millilitres and in a sealed container which fits inside a transparent resealable bag.

Singapore Airlines was the only major airline I could find with a specific inflight food rule.

The airline says it may restrict the carriage of items in the cabin if they are deemed objectionable to your fellow travellers, such as "items that give a strong smell that may be offensive to other passengers". I guess that rules out bringing tripe and onions onboard.

Air New Zealand, Jetstar and Virgin Australia all say passengers can bring their own food onboard, especially for kids and allergy sufferers.

"We encourage parents to bring healthy snacks and treats for their kids to keep them amused and happy," Jetstar says.

Air New Zealand says that, because of limited facilities, they are unable to refrigerate or heat your meal.

Virgin Australia recommends all passengers who suffer from allergies bring their own meal because it is unable to guarantee its meals are completely allergen-free.

Although I'm not an allergy sufferer, I am a bit of a penny pincher so from now on I think it'll be fresh fruit and homemade sandwiches for me.

Sunday Star Times