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WHAT’S ON THE MENU?
Get the scoop on how airlines choose your meals
For many fliers, tasty airline food is an oxymoron. The truth is, it takes lots of
behind-the-scenes maneuvering for airline staff to get the right meals to passengers. You probably also don’t know that you can request special meals ahead of time. So before you next flight, make sure you know all the ins and outs of in-flight dining, and cut down on those meals that fall short of satisfying.
The time and length of flight determines what Is served. Most carriers stick to this general rule: meals are served on flights longer than two hours between 6-9:45 a.m., 11 a.m.-1:15 p.m., and 4:30-7 p.m. “We try to serve food around traditional meal times,” says John Austin, a spokesperson for Northwest Airlines.
Most carriers rotate menus every few weeks, and totally revamp selections every 12-18 months. For total menu overhauls, carriers call in well-known chefs who are on top of food trends. A few years ago, fast food was the custom. The trend in the health conscious ’90s, however, is toward leaner meals.
“We’re making changes in our meal selections, leaning toward meals that have more variety, are low-cholesterol and have a higher nutritional value,” says Dave Castelveter, a USAirways spokesperson.
When American Airlines recently redesigned its first-class domestic meals, they turned to a group of chefs, including Larry Forgione of New York’s An American Place and Jasper White of Legal Sea Foods in Boston. Among the new dinner offerings: barbecued chicken with sauteed yellow squash and zucchini and corn bread pilaf or salmon with shangdon sauce and stir-fried vegetable rice.
American also introduced two dining options. On longer domestic flights, the carrier has flexible dining. First-class passengers can choose what time they prefer to eat. American also introduced Bistro service on two- to two-and-a-half-hour flights for passengers flying coach. As passengers board, they select breakfast or lunch meals