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How Airline Food Gets To Your Tray

Travel News — By Carlo Alcos on June 9, 2010 at 7:15 am

Ever wonder how your airplane food gets to your fold-away tray – I mean beyond the flight attendant bringing it on those tiny, efficient carts (not before bumping a few elbows of course).

The Cranky Flier had a chance to visit Amazing Food Creations, a supplier of airline food, to peek behind the scenes. If you’re like me and actually like airplane food — I think it feels like Christmas every time they bring those carts around — then you should find this interesting.

A quick rundown:

  1. The airline distributes a spec sheet detailing what they need and how much it should cost to food manufacturers. Prototypes are made and the airline chooses the manufacturer. There may be fine tuning of the meal before a contract — usually one to two years in length– is awarded.
  2. The manufacturer figures out how to turn a prototype meal into one that can be consistently good when mass-produced.
  3. Distributor(s) is/are brought on board to bring the food from the manufacturer to the airline.
  4. Local airline caterers receive the food (only entrees at this point) and add the sides (salads, rolls, etc) and condiments before it goes onto the airplane.
  5. The meal is carried in those cool little carts to you (of course, assuming you’re not on a “no-frills” flight).

I was curious if I was alone in liking airplane food so I did a little Internet digging. Apparently, I’m not, which is good news for me (means I’m not a freak). A post at TripCrazed asked the question “Do You Like Airplane Food?” The answers ranged from “ewww airplane food is sick” to “so much better than hospital food at least” to “dude, I can eat loads of that stuff!” But there were surprisingly much more people who did like it.

So which airline has the best food? Combining the responses to that post with this airliners.net poll, it seems Singapore and Emirates are at the top when it comes to quality. I personally found Virgin Atlantic to have not only good food, but lots of it. On a flight from London to Havana that cart just kept coming ’round.

If you’re lucky enough to fly business class, Esquire magazine listed their top 11 airline snacks. It includes a warm BBQ pork bun (Cathay Pacific), a cheese platter (Emirates), Fauchon mini-crepes cheese crackers (Air France), deep-fried lotus root with minced pork (Thai Airway), Nasi Lemak (Singapore), and cold stuffed peppers (Turkish Airline).

I think the kitchen’s calling me. Time to eat!

[Image: Mr. Mystery / Flickr]

Tags: airplanes, flying, food, meals, seriously some of us really enjoy airline food

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