Most airlines have put a lot of thought and effort into improving their in-flight meals in the last few years. Sometimes though, you still get an awful, bland-tasting, unappetising mess.
So how is it made? Why does it taste like it does? And can you eat Business Class meals on cheap flights in Economy?
Skyscanner Australia helped us explore the most commonly asked in-flight meal questions.
Who makes your airline meals?
Major international companies, like Gate Gourmet, LSG Sky Chefs, and dnata (Dubai National Air Transpart Association) dominate the airline food industry and operate out of vast hanger-like factories. Gate Gourmet has its headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland, but is owned by Chinese conglomerate HNA Group. LSG Sky Chefs has headquarters in Frankfurt and Texas. Meanwhile, dnata has its headquarters in Dubai.
To give you some sense of scale of things, Gate Gourmet operates in around 170 airports in 60 countries, including in Sydney and Brisbane. It produces hundreds of thousands of meals a day.
In Australia, the largest commercial kitchen complex in the Southern hemisphere is at Melbourne Airport. It’s run by Alpha Flight Services, a subsidiary of dnata.
Alpha Flight Services operates commercial kitchens across Australia. The one in the Melbourne Airport kitchen alone produces around 20,000 meals a day.
Major catering companies have contracts to supply meals to different airlines. For example, Virgin Australia will be serviced by Gate Gourmet for six years from February 2018.
Most things are made from scratch and meals are on an aircraft on the same day they are made. If an airline makes a stop over, for example during a flight from Sydney to London, new food is usually loaded on board from kitchens based at a stopover destination, like Singapore.