An airline meal or in-flight meal is a meal served to passengers on board a commercial airliner. These meals are prepared by airline catering services. The first kitchens preparing meals in-flight were established by United Airlines in 1936. These meals vary widely in quality and quantity across different airline companies and classes of travel. They range from a simple beverage in short-haul economy class to a seven-course gourmet meal in long-haul first class.
The type of food varies depending upon the airline company and class of travel. Meals may be served as “one tray” or in multiple courses with no tray and with a tablecloth, metal cutlery, and glassware (generally in first and business classes).
The airline dinner typically includes meat (most commonly chicken or beef) or fish, a salad or vegetable, a small bread roll, and a dessert.
Caterers usually produce alternative meals for passengers with restrictive diets. These must usually be ordered in advance, sometimes when buying the ticket. Some of the more common examples include:
- Cultural diets, such as French, Italian, Chinese, Japanese or Indian style.
- Infant and baby meals. Some airlines also offer children’s meals, containing foods that picky children will enjoy such as baked beans, mini-hamburgers and hot dogs.
- Medical diets, including low/high fiber, low fat/cholesterol, diabetic, peanut free, non-lactose, low salt/sodium, low-purine, low-calorie, low-protein, bland (non-spicy) and gluten-free meals.
- Religious diets, including Kosher, Halal and Hindu, Buddhist and Jain vegetarian (sometimes termed Asian vegetarian) meals.
- Vegetarian and vegan meals. Some airlines do not offer a specific meal for vegetarians; instead, they are given a vegan meal.
Meals must generally be frozen and heated on the ground before takeoff, rather than prepared fresh. Guillaume de Syon, a history professor at Albright College who wrote about the history of airline meals, said that the higher altitudes alter the taste of the food and the function of the taste buds; according to de Syon the food may taste “dry and flavorless” as a result of the pressurization and passengers, feeling thirsty due to pressurization, many drink alcohol when they ought to drink water.
Source: Wikipedia.org - http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Airline_meal&oldid=330496519