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Old 07-29-2006, 12:53 AM   #1
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Airline Meals

Despite the best intentions of airlines, no one expects airline food to taste as if it had just emerged from the chef's kitchen. The realities of airline catering means that hot meals on commercial flights undergo a punishing odyssey of up to 22 hours from kitchen to plane.

Here is the timeline to bring a typical international premium-class meal to the tray table. I got this from a travel magazine:

24 hours before flight: Preliminary passenger count sent to kitchen facility
22 hours before flight: Initial prep work done and sauces made.
16-14 hrs before flight: Main meal elements are cooked: meat, fish, etc.
13 hours before flight: Cooked food immediately blast-chilled for 2 to 4 hours
10 hours before flight: Food removed from blast chillers and placed into ‘holding box’ or
cold storage room. Food is wrapped, labeled and held here until ready for assembly.
9 hours before flight: Kitchen crew gather everything to assemble dishes according to
specs of airline. Portions are weighed for compliance.
7 hours before flight: Food is arranged on trays or in foil containers for assembly later
in flight
6 hours before flight: Meals placed on carts for loading dock.
3.5 hours before flight: Catering trucks pull up to loading dock, truck and food carts
searched by security.
2.5 hours before flight: Trucks, loaded with food carts and sealed with security tape,
depart for airport terminals.
1.5 hours before flight: Carts loaded onto planes; catering rep takes final temperature
check – the last in a long series of such readings to ensure food doesn’t spoil.

Doesn’t feel so good to know that the airline food you’re eating was prepared at least 22 hours ago, huh. At least it's nice to know they make sure the food is safe to eat.

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Old 07-29-2006, 12:56 AM   #2
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Sorry, I tried to format this so it's easy to read but it didn't work...
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Old 07-29-2006, 01:42 AM   #3
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It's amazing what goes into getting a meal on board!

Personally, I've never expected to get 5-star gourmet quality food while in-flight. Back in the 70's - 80's ... I used to get a decent hot meal on a 2-hour flight ... shorter flights we got hot or cold sandwiches. Heck, these days on domestic flights you're lucky to get a 1.2 oz bag of peanuts and a plastic cup with 4 oz of Coke!

The last time I flew between Denver and DfW ... I stopped at the McDonald's in the airport terminal and got a "carry on" meal ... boy did I get some nasty looks from fellow passengers when I started to chow down after takeoff .....
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Old 07-29-2006, 02:16 AM   #4
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Very interesting chopstix, always wondered how they did that, thanks.

Am just as happy they have discontinued food service on most (?all) domestic flights here.

Like many folks give me 'free' food and I will eat it.

And as I get older I can tell you exactly where those calories go.

Just wish more airports had a semi-decent eateries where one could get some grub before a flight.

Most airports we go through have nothing but fast food joints.

And Michael, don't know why people on your flight were appalled, sounds like a fine idea to me.

Most of the time just want to either sleep or read on a flight. Let me buy a cocktail and am happy.

And they can keep the lousy pretzels, thank you.
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Old 07-29-2006, 04:52 AM   #5
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Probably because they hadn't done the same .
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Old 07-29-2006, 06:30 AM   #6
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You know ive had some AMAZING meals on airplanes..

I fly a lot like over 12 times a year long haul mainly. And I found some airlines to have some great food. Ive flown to Italy which was only a 2 hour or so flight. I got Proscuitto and REAL mozzerella panini

The hot meal Was a really nice chicken dish

i could go on about airline food but i do really enjoy it!
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Old 07-29-2006, 07:26 AM   #7
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My catering company used to supply meals to two NZ airlines and the headaches involved were phenomenal. We would get audited constantly ( all suppliers were) and our meals were weighed, measured, temp probed,etc. We also had to provide swabs from our premises on a regular basis to be lab tested for all the things we dread in a kitchen. Our food was prepared as close to the meal time as possible but we are talking internal flights here, not international. We learnt good sushi skills tho'!!!
No airline provides food in New Zealand these days...
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Old 07-29-2006, 10:12 AM   #8
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Have had memorable meals in first class on CO.
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Old 07-29-2006, 12:13 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chef_Jen
You know ive had some AMAZING meals on airplanes..

I fly a lot like over 12 times a year long haul mainly. And I found some airlines to have some great food. Ive flown to Italy which was only a 2 hour or so flight. I got Proscuitto and REAL mozzerella panini

The hot meal Was a really nice chicken dish

i could go on about airline food but i do really enjoy it!
I have to agree with you on the quality of the meals served on planes. I fly first class when I come to Michigan and always on American Airlines. I have had the most delicious meals you can imagine. They taste and look like they were just made although I know they weren't and they serve them on real plates with real silverware. When I leave Las Vegas I always get an early morning flight and breakfast on American is truly wonderful.
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Old 07-29-2006, 12:37 PM   #10
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Actually, it's not safe to eat all the time - lol!!! But then, what is?

Not to take away from the people who make a major effort to provide good safe meals to airline passengers, but there have actually been quite a few food poisoning incidents in the recent past. Most have been traced to the "holding period" of the food.

That said - since I'd rather eat worms & die than fly (although I've been forced to on occasion) - I doubt I'll ever get food poisoning from airline food - lol!!!!!
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