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Tickets, passport … picnic? Why you may have to rustle up your own in-flight meal

A man eating a sandwich on a plane
A plane picnic, AKA a takeaway sandwich. Photograph: amriphoto/Getty Images

Name: Plane picnics.

Age: Quite new. We’re talking since the pandemic.

Great! Now, I’m a nervous flyer, so I’ll have a bloody mary, please. In fact, make that two. Plenty of Worcestershire sauce. No, I’m afraid you can’t …

And when you serve the meal I’ll have the chicken. White wine, of course. Again, a couple if you don’t mind. Erm, were you not listening? And have you been on a plane recently?

No, there’s been a global pandemic, in case you hadn’t noticed. You are an air hostess, aren’t you? No, I’m cabin crew. And there aren’t many of us on this flight.

But surely one of you knows how to whip up a bloody mary? You should have got an email.

Oh, I never look at them. What did it say? That Tui is warning holidaymakers that all short-haul flights and some long-haul flights could take off without any catering on board.

What?! Why? Well, there’s been a global pandemic, in case you hadn’t noticed. Tui’s supplier has been hit by staff shortages. The airline is telling passengers to bring their own food and drink, also known as a “plane picnic”.

Plane rude, if you ask me. The whole aviation industry is struggling with staff shortages now that people are flying again. Witness the long queues and delays at airports; in Manchester and Birmingham, passengers had to queue outside the terminals. BA has cancelled flights and EasyJet is removing seats.

Then hire some more people! Security clearance takes a little longer than in other sectors, as I’m sure you’ll appreciate.

What I’d really appreciate right now is a sandwich. Then perhaps you should have brought one from home.

I couldn’t have got it in my hand luggage. Also, what about liquids? How is that going to work? Anything over 100ml has to be bought at the airport after passing through security. So you can just buy your plane picnic then.

From the pretentious, pricy seafood bar? A dozen oysters and a bottle of champagne to go, please. Just slap it on the old American Express. I think there’s a Pret, too.

Next time, instead of a plane picnic, I’ll just buy a bottle of voddy at the duty-free and some tomato soup at Pret, then make my own bloody marys to get through the flight. Sorry, no alcohol permitted, only soft drinks allowed.

What happened to the glamour of flying? It’s all in the past. A long way in the past.

Do say: “Next year we’re taking the train. To Cornwall.”

Don’t say: “Any chance of an upgrade, then?”

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Dive Deeper:
Pack a ‘plane picnic’, passengers told as staff shortages hit in-flight meals
Announcement by TUI could see holidaymakers having to splash out on expensive airport food due to disruption to on-board catering
Tui, Jet2, Ryanair, Easyjet and British Airways rules on taking food on board planes
Make sure you are fully aware of what they allow
Rules for taking own food on planes for Tui, Easyjet, Ryanair, Jet2 and British Airways flights
Each airline has its own rules on taking your own food onto the plane
TUI, Easyjet, Ryanair, Jet2 and British Airways rules on taking food on board flights
Can you bring food and drink on flights - we take a look at the rules for Brits heading on…
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Ryanair, easyJet, Jet2 and Tui rules on bringing food onto plane
Different airlines have different rules for what passengers can bring on board with them
TUI performs U-turn over in-flight refreshments axe with service reinstated
Customers were told to bring their own that food and drink on European and medium-haul routes from 15 airports
Get all your news in one place