Logistics are a major part of any industry, and the aviation industry, what with all its various departments and areas of expertise that go into it, is perhaps one industry that has a lot of logistics to keep in mind. One such thing is something we might consider straight forward; feeding millions of passengers daily on aircraft! This is no mean feat; as any person who works in the food service industry can tell you, organising food is incredibly difficult, and on an aircraft, you run the risk of ‘hangry’ passengers if you don’t deliver.
The creators of the airline menu have a lot to take into account when deciding what should or should not be served on a flight. The right ingredients must be selected that won’t go bad or spoil by the time the meal has taken off into the skies, timing needs to be strictly adhered to in order to feed the hundreds of hungry mouths on a single aircraft, and all sorts of dietary requirements need to be taken into account. This is just an overview of what goes into flight meal preparation, but we can already see how things start to get tricky. And yet cabin crew still manage to deliver a fast and efficient meal service.
The first part of the meal service begins on the ground, where food is selected, decided it’s appropriate and the packaged for the flight. Strict hygiene must be adhered to at all times, because a sick passenger due to poorly prepared food isn’t a good look for airlines. All packaged food items need to go through security checks before they can leave the food preparation facility. The food industry for the aviation industry works like a well-oiled, very clean, machine. Timing is paramount, and any delay or mistake could mean that hundreds of passengers are inconvenienced or delayed, which has a palpable knock-on effect.
Sine safety regulations prohibit the use of open-flame grills on commercial aircraft (we should think so!), hot food is prepared beforehand before being frozen to specific temperatures. This is checked and double checked by an in-house hygiene team. The food, once airborne, is then reheated by cabin crew members using convection ovens in the aircraft. Most first-class dishes are plated on board, whilst the economy class dishes are pre-plated at the facility to save time. Everything from salad-dressings to butter is prepared beforehand to ensure the meal service runs efficiently.
Airlines that pride themselves on their high-quality of food and taste must take into account the high altitudes and dry air. So often they select ingredients that have strong acidic flavours, with lots of citrus flavours too, to ensure the passenger is getting something that tastes as good as it looks. Food is only one side of services, and the cabin crew and ground crew must ensure that there plenty of cutlery and crockery on board. They also must remember the smaller details like tea bags, UHT milk, sugar, alcohol. This list is seemingly endless, and for those airlines that cater to a very particular clientele, they must also take into account other requests. Many airlines now request passengers give any information of what they might need at the point of ticket sale so they can anticipate specific requirements.
All in all, a lot goes into organising food and service, and every little detail is taken care of. The galley is simply the glamorous ‘other side’ that dishes up the finished product to make your flight as comfortable and satisfying as possible.