Gone are the days of free flowing champagne, fresh fruit and hot meals on every flight. Nowadays, the only food you might see pass through the cabin during your 4-hour flight are chips and cookies. Traveling first-class, especially on shorter flights, doesn’t even guarantee you a hot meal anymore. So why are airlines skimping on good food, and feeding us pretzels instead? Why does eating on a plane usually involve purchasing a mediocre sandwich box, or bringing your own food onboard?

We’ve all heard stories about bad flying experiences; turbulence, delays, bad customer service, etc. But how many of us have actually heard bad food stories? Chances are the majority of travelers you talk to today have become accustom to airplane food and no longer expect anything too extravagant. Perhaps we even find a little joy in receiving our square box of food mid-flight. The anticipation of what’s inside is kind of exciting after all, right?

Providing fresh, high quality meals for thousands of passengers each day is no small task. Consider this: Why do we so often hear about bad food in cafeterias, banquet halls and at weddings? The answer is simple! Large numbers of people, equals large amounts of food! Airlines must consider which meals are easiest to create in large quantities at a low cost, as well as which foods the average person would enjoy.

Think about it; not all passengers are going to enjoy sushi, but most people will eat a slice of chicken or consume a bowl of pasta. Also, what risk does an airline face for not serving a high-end meal? Chances are the majority of people flying today don’t choose their airline carrier based on the in-flight menu; they make their decision based on seat price and availability.

Another thing to consider when discussing overall food quality is the debate surrounding reduced oxygen levels on flights. Research has proven that pressurized cabins and low humidity play an important role in our culinary experience. It is believed that our taste buds actually change at altitude, making our food blander and less palatable. As a result, airline caterers have started introducing ingredients in their food to enhance flavors and entice our taste buds, such as spices and salt.

Airplane foodSo it’s clear that airplane food has received a bad reputation over recent years, especially for those flying coach. But flyers take note; not all food and airlines are created equal!! Don’t become discouraged just yet or run to the nearest airport food court to stock up on mediocre food for your next flight! There are many airlines around the world working hard to improve this attitude and make gourmet food available to you at 36,000 feet!

United has recently announced that instead of potato chips, cookies and bananas, it will begin serving meals in business class for flights over 800 miles. Passengers will receive meals such as chicken and mozzarella on a tomato focaccia roll and turkey and Swiss cheese on a cranberry baguette. Other airlines like American Airlines have unfortunately gone the other way, eliminating hot meals on most flights less than 1,000 miles. But don’t loose all hope! Many companies like Virgin Airlines, Emirates, Turkish airways have sought out chefs to help create a culinary experience worth flying for. Don’t believe it? Check out “InFlight Feed”, for a delicious online guide to airline food; proving good food does exist on planes! 

Overall, one must conclude that unless you’re flying first class or business, chances are you won’t be experiencing any mind-blowing meals in economy. If you consider yourself to be picky, your best option might be to fly with some snacks or eat prior to takeoff. Otherwise look at the bigger picture; whatever destination you’re flying to probably has some great restaurants. So save your appetite and indulge when you land!

We’d love to hear from you!! Share your best, worst or medicore airline food story with us! We might share your story on our website!!