I have all of the following non-AP GOTO GEM mounts and NOT ONE of them has a "pier flip" button or menu command in the hand controller.
Rainbow Astro RST-135 + Hubo-i SE
Losmandy G11 + Gemini-II
Software Bisque Paramount + joystick
Vixen GP-DX + SkySensor-2000-PC
Vixen GP + Meade LXD-55 motors + Autostar 497
Meade LXD-75 + Audiostar
iOptron iEQ30 + Go2Nova 8401
Celestron CGX 1100 + NexStar
In fact as far as I can tell, only Astro-Physics and Rainbow Astro hand controllers have any configurable meridian management functions at all. All the rest handle meridian flips automatically and don't give the user any control whatsoever. And in fact the iOptron iEQ30 won't even report back to its ASCOM driver which side of the meridian it is currently on. You have to make educated guesses about its meridian state, since it will happily track through the meridian and keep on going, until it checks the meridian again during a slew command. A bit annoying in robotic observatory setups.
I also have a bunch of Meade/Celestron fork GOTO mounts and some GOTO dobs. Of course they don't have any meridian functions due to their mechanical design.
I have been using GOTO GEM mounts for over 20 years and have not yet ever felt the need for a manual meridian flip button or menu command in a hand controller. If I plan to image through the meridian, I set the meridian delay value in the AP hand controller or APCC, or the meridian limit value in the Rainbow hand controller or their ASCOM driver.
Personally I don't consider AP's approach to meridian management to be a "gaping hole" or "desperate" and I don't consider setting the AP meridian delay value to be "tricking" the mount. It has been thoughtfully designed to operate exactly the way it operates. No "tricks" required.
I guess I need to be educated as to what GEM GOTO mounts and hand controllers are out there that I don't have any experience with that have a manual meridian flip button or menu command in their hand controllers (or ASCOM/INDI drivers.) And why they are needed at all. Please, if you have the time, consider sharing some mount make and model numbers so I can research this further.
Thanks in advance... and clear skies and chocolate!