How fresh is airline food?

Toby wonders how long airline food sits in the trays before it is served to passengers.


Q. Toby
I read your article on the airlines that provide the best food recently and was surprised to find that Qantas had made the grade. I have flown Qantas regularly and have always found the meals either exceptionally bland or far too salty. Perhaps I have been unlucky. It did make me think that winning the award for having the best airline food is a pretty low bar when it comes to overall food quality. It isn’t like these planes have extensive kitchens for preparing food. Are there any facts on how fresh a food is on an international flight?

A. Unsurprisingly, airlines don’t exactly spruik this information about their food preparation.

Shrey P, an anonymous poster on the popular forum Quora, worked as a flight attendant for some of the world’s major airlines and received plenty of attention when spilling the beans on the dark secrets or airline food.

“Airline meals are very unhealthy. Even if you have ordered that raw meal, vegan meal, bland meal,” Shrey P said.

“The food on your tray is prepared not in the galley but in the aircraft catering, which is often done 12 hours before and even days before the aircraft departure.

“The scrambled egg or the omelette that you just had was not only egg but can be a mix of egg and other substitutes.

“That cut fruit, which is on your tray, still looks fresh, and how is that possible when it was cut hours before the departure. Have you ever wondered?”

passenger eating airiine food

According to the anonymous flight attendant, we might not think the taste of airline food is too bad because of the side-effects of flying.

The air pressure inside a plane “causes our taste buds and sense of smell to go partially numb, compared to on ground”, Shrey P explained. “This has major impact on how food tastes and smells. This makes it super bland.

“So, airline catering in recent years has really pumped up the spices, salts, and fats – all to make your mouth happy.

“This is one of the reasons why crew prefer to get their own food rather than eat aircraft food,” Shrey P said.

What has been your worst experience eating plane food? Have you ever taken your own food on a plane rather than rely on airline catering?

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