Airline Lounge Nutrition Review – Initial Impressions
British Airways Lounge Changi – do you know you are my go-to lounge in Singapore? If I am transiting through Singapore you will always find me in here instead of next door at Qantas. Even though I am a tiered Qantas Frequent Flyer, I actually choose to go the BA lounge. Why you ask?? Many reasons – 1) the whisky selection is better, 2) I always get a shower as soon as I walk into the lounge (even when im flying BA – I make sure I pick up the pace and get their first lol), and 3) have you been to the QF lounge now since they have started flying back through Singapore? I sure have and it is one crowded place. Now what about the food though? Do I choose to go to the British Airways lounge at Changi for the food?
The answer is no – I don’t actually go to the lounge for the food. Most flights I have taken connecting through Changi are to Europe, and the layover isn’t too long (Qantas and BA I’m looking at you) so I don’t actually need to eat a huge amount in the lounge and the food choices on offer don’t bother me too much. So I go for the other factors listed above. However, I have had a few 5 hour layovers when I have been connecting to Finnair, and during these times I first go to the gym in Changi and then to the BA lounge. But even during these times I still do not rely on the lounge food too much during these layovers.
So, with my dietitian hat on, what do I think of the food?
- It is great to see variety in the food on offer – they have food for a range of appetites and meal types. There are snacks, to finger sandwiches, to hot meals from a buffet. This is important when eating in a lounge – you should think about how hungry you actually are, when your last meal was on a flight, and when the next one will be. Then you can choose food to match your appetite and your flights – a good lounge will give you options to do this!
- I like the way these dishes are served – even if I don’t think they are the best nutritionally. I like they mainly serve the hot dishes ‘separately’ so you can basically design your meal for yourself. For example instead of serving a stirfry with rice, vegetables and some chicken or legumes all mix together in the one dish, you can serve yourself the amount of rice, vegetables and protein you would like separately. This is great as you can put more of the good stuff on your plate and less of the bad stuff.
Fabulous to see fresh fruit is available! Availability of fresh fruit is one of assessment criteria I use when reviewing a lounge! So top points here!
- Now most of us have a sweet tooth at some time or another. What I love about this lounge is it has a number of dessert and ‘sweet treat’ options but they are perfectly potion controlled in little dishes. Just enough for a mouthful. Remember you will most likely be getting dessert when you step on the plane again!
- I always suggest reducing the amount of low fibre, carbohydrate while flying, and what I like about this lounge is you can (in a limited way – you have to choose the only vegetable dish on offer though).
Not so great- caution!
- One thing that really stood out for me was the lack of vegetables and wholegrain foods offered in this lounge – and this really dragged them down nutritionally. While there is basically a vegetable dish always on offer (which certainly does tick the box for me), what isn’t great is the lack of vegetables and wholegrains in all the other foods, and the fact there is only one hot vegetable dish on offer. If you don’t actually serve yourself the vegetable dish then you won’t get many from the other dishes on offer. For example the ‘bowtie pasta with lemon sauce and beans has like 5 green beans in the entire dish – you would be lucky to get even one green bean on your plate. I absolutely hate this – as the name of the dish can sound healthy but it actually isn’t).
- There aren’t really any healthy snack choices other than fruit and cheese. Now even though I am a dietitian, I am also realistic. I know that you just don’t feel like having fruit sometimes and so having healthy snack options is important. Full meals are not always necessary in lounge and so having smaller snack options is very important to have available. Unfortunately the options available that I have seen are not great. Most of the snacks here are what are called energy dense, nutrient poor – meaning you get a whole lot of energy (kilojoules/calories) but not much benefit e.g. vitamins/minerals/antioxidants etc. Spring rolls, chicken skewers, chips (crisps), rice snacks, low fibre crackers were some of the main snack options on offer during my visits.
Pasta, white rice, white bread, potatoes make up the majority of the meal options. Low in fibre, and very easily and quickly digestible, these carbohydrates are not healthy options for when you are going to be sitting down for hours in a plane. Keep these to a only a very small portion (no more than ¼ of your plate).
Last Word From A Nutrition And Healthy Eating Perspective!
From a nutrition perspective the choices in this lounge could be better. However, you can eat well in this lounge with some careful consideration and mindful eating practices. Considering your hunger levels, and when your next meal will be on a plane, will help guide you to make better food choices. And even though the choices in the lounge aren’t overly nutritious (from what I can see), it doesn’t mean you can’t eat well. When I have been to this lounge I have been transiting to and from Europe – which means I am usually quite tired. When people are tired it can lead to poorer food decisions – so make sure you don’t go into this lounge on auto-pilot and just eat whatever is in front of you.
And don’t forget if you would like me to do a specific airline lounge nutrition review then just let me know!
NOTE: All pictures are my own and I review a lounge from just the foods I see during my visit. There may be different options available at other times.