An airline meal, airline food, plane food or in-flight meal is a meal served to passengers on board a commercial airliner. These meals are prepared by specialist airline catering services.
These meals vary widely in quality and quantity across different airline companies and classes of travel. They range from a simple snack or beverage in short-haul economy class to a seven-course gourmet meal in a first class long-haul flight. When ticket prices were regulated in the American domestic market, food was the primary means airlines differentiated themselves.
The first airline meals were served by Handley Page Transport, an airline company founded in 1919, to serve the Londonâ€“Paris route in October of that year. Passengers could choose from a selection of sandwiches and fruit.
The type of food varies depending upon the airline company and class of travel. Meals may be served on one tray or in multiple courses with no tray and with a tablecloth, metal cutlery, and glassware (generally in first and business classes). Often the food is reflective of the culture of the country the airline is based in.
The airline dinner typically includes meat (most commonly chicken or beef), fish, or pasta; 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:
For several Islamic airlines (e.g. EgyptAir, Emirates, Etihad Airways, Garuda Indonesia, Gulf Air, Iran Air, Mahan Air, Iran Aseman Airlines, Qatar Airways, Saudia, Biman Bangladesh Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Royal Brunei Airlines and Turkish Airlines), in accordance with Islamic customs, all classes and dishes on the plane are served a Muslim meal with Halal certification â€“ without pork and alcohol. While Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar are still providing bottles of wine to non-Muslim passengers, the cabin crew does not deliver alcoholic beverages lest to violate Islamic customs, unless those non-Muslim passengers request it. Because Iran and Saudi Arabia apply strict Sharia regulations, those countries' airlines do not deliver pork or alcoholic beverages, and all airlines flying to or from Iran or Saudi Arabia are prohibited from serving either. However, Garuda Indonesia still serving alcoholic beverages (whiskey, beer, champagne and wine) to non-Muslim passengers.