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What Airlines Don't Want You To Know About Their Food

Updated on September 20, 2012

This is away from reality. A chef would think twice before joining...

When Airlines were created there was a need to cater passengers fast and with concern. The first meals were just carry on bags to keep the food properly protected against weather and any unwelcome 'bacteria,' but from the 4 passengers added to the first mail back in 1929, there was a need to create an industry. Catering couch carts were designed and trucks with special hi-lifts followed immediately. The meals from earlies 60's were a luxury that added a Chef for quality. Cold Plates and hot plates were designed with care. Most wouldn't believe it, but a meal was worth over a 20 dollar bill. But like in any industry, it became a 'carry on' huge load for the Airline Industry, when cuts and downsizing stepped forward on the budgeting chain. Instead of just talking about it lets immerse in one of those Catering places and Interview this 23 years old employee. Let's name him Eddy. He is from down South and found about the job through his family that works in this Facility. We won't name the place, but we will have access to this place.

We get through security and get our Visitor badge. The visit is not even noticed by the top notch managers since we can cammouflage ourselves as potential new employees. Gigantic cooler rooms are shown. We see the temperature below 30 degrees inside. Eddy brings a net for our head and a special jacket for the abusive temperatures. I see boxes of Romaine lettuce, oranges, avocados and Frozen shrimp bags. Cheese from all over are stored in a small room inside this Cooler.


Specially designed belts are loaded with plates or trays (The ones you get on your flight) A team leader gives them a code that has been memorized by the food production employees. Quickly they put bread, salt, fruit salads, knives, spoons and napkins... the pace is breath taking. The team leader loads the trolley carts within a short time. In less than an hour they have filled the meal for 300 passengers and the next flight schedule is already behind. You might wonder if we will get our meals on time and fresh, but let's ask Eddy about...let's go behind the scenes and he agreed to be honest. One condition though: Change his name and not mention the Caterer.



When I get on a flight, I avoid to eat the fruit salad and the greens. Do you think... I shouldn't worry?


We rotate employees for the salads, and the greens chopping can be daunting and cumbersome, so I would worry and wouldn't put my life in danger by eating the salad. Remember this. One or two guys to chop lettuce for 20 flights a day. We don't even mention carrots or onions. So you are right Lord. I would set the salad aside.


I have this tendency to check forks and knives on a flight and to my utter surprise they do not look clean. What is the problem? Do you guys are overloaded with work?


You told me to be honest and here is the issue: Several airlines have merged and our bosses are always on our backs to be 'productive.' As I said, some guys are rotated and most will hate to wash dishes and get rid of left overs. Between you and me, I've seen colleagues just washing the dishes with hot water and not bothering using the soap at all. Going through thousand of knives with two hands can be really annoying for some fellows who just get paid minimum wage plus the night shift differential. So you make sense and I would be carefull handling those forks and spoons... but Plastic Kitchen ware have made things easier. Depending on the flights and money issues you will see both choices on your plates.


I've seen this Liquor room caged from all of us. Do they bother to steal these wines?


Some have ventured and got fired. Others concealed within their Jackets small samples, but got caught too. The facility is like a Federal building and we have to be careful with the cameras that you see all over. Like Fedex, we are required to fill a 10 years background on our applications. I don't understand my co-workers at times, but some just love the thrill of drinking a single Vodka sampling, when they could buy one after work. The manager in charge usually is a non drinker and does a good job.


What do you suggest to your boss, or have suggested, in order to get better meals for all of us?


The industry is dying. All they see is savings and we just comply. My boss is tied handed too, and we all just mind our business. I heard that the banks just want their profits and we make less than 15 years ago. I would suggest lots of things but as I said, it would be a waste of time...and might cost me my own job.


So, you woudn't eat a meal on a flight?


I can't even afford a flight ticket these days, but would use common sense Lord.

We leave the place and walk through the Hot plates Kitchen. Ovens and cooks do their daily task. But I manage to catch 4 employees leaving the cool room with something in their mouths. Being careful and saying hi, I see them disposing shrimp tails from their mouths. Can you imagine if I stay 8 hours around them? Eventually these Shrimp Scampi meals will make it to us. Well, only if you fly first class...for couch they suggest scrambled eggs and french toast.


Airlines Cater millions of meals a year and should look over this problem that will affect all of us if we don't act. The caterer wants the most profit for the least output, the airline will want the most for less. As passengers we should complain on our flights. Letting this happen will not help any of us. We suggest a self improvement class for the employees that depend on us, the passengers.


Submit a Comment

  • Lord De Cross profile image

    Joseph De Cross 5 years ago from New York

    Hi there Becky Bruce, yeah pretty much, is a fast food kind of service above 34,500 miles. You don't mind it because you don't have a choice. Thanks for checking this hub. Your feedback is thoroughly appreciated.

  • Becky Bruce profile image

    Becky Bruce 5 years ago from San Diego, CA

    lord: I'm digging this insider info!!! Love the visual of flight attendants wolfing down shrimps and disposing of the tails..interesting read, looking forward to going through more of your articles now.

  • Lord De Cross profile image

    Joseph De Cross 5 years ago from New York

    Glimmer TWIN Fan,

    You are just one statistic, and luckly you just made it. This problem has been around for a long time and seens to get worse. Glad ypou are fine though.

  • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

    Claudia Mitchell 5 years ago

    Having gotten violently ill after a flight meal, I skip them now. I'll eat the packaged snacks, but that's about it. Good hub. Thanks.

  • Lord De Cross profile image

    Joseph De Cross 5 years ago from New York

    Morning Thelma,

    The truth is greener than the mold found under some pieces of bread. The industry cannot afford higher pays to the caterers and try to cut on healthy regulations against FDA . They cannot deny it, because we found the issues first hand... on the spot. Thanks for stopping by Ms. Alberts

  • Thelma Alberts profile image

    Thelma Alberts 5 years ago from Germany

    Oh, my! Do I have to bring my own food for a 12 or more hours flight to the Philippines? It´s so scary. The food looks so yummy and clean in my flights. I will be vigilant next time and bring some food with me, lol;-) Thanks for this very informative hub.

  • vocalcoach profile image

    Audrey Hunt 6 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

    Will do!

  • Lord De Cross profile image

    Joseph De Cross 6 years ago from New York

    You are welcome VocalCoach!

    pass this hub along to your daughter Rustic Living. This is a real report from behind the scenes at this dying industry. Sorry guys from the FAA and FDA and TSA!


  • vocalcoach profile image

    Audrey Hunt 6 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

    No more airline snacks for this kid...I will bring my own, thank you. Really appreciaate this information. Whatever happened to "pleasing the customer?"

    Voted up and thanks!

  • Lord De Cross profile image

    Joseph De Cross 6 years ago from New York

    Thanks Susan!

    You gave us a wider information about the system and seems that all are going through the same situation. money wise.


  • Just Ask Susan profile image

    Susan Zutautas 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

    I usually just fly back and forth between the U.S. and Canada. I think in North America all the airlines are pretty much the same.

  • Lord De Cross profile image

    Joseph De Cross 6 years ago from New York

    Yuck! more yummy feelings! The interview was done on the premises and we pretended to look like a new hire...with white aprons and head nets. Eddy was really honest.


  • Simone Smith profile image

    Simone Haruko Smith 6 years ago from San Francisco

    Absolutely fascinating! Thanks for the behind-the-scenes look, Lord! Look like I'll be packing my own in-flight meals for GOOD now!

  • Lord De Cross profile image

    Joseph De Cross 6 years ago from New York

    Hi there just ask Susan,

    I took the french toast, because the scrambled eggs are already processed and the lavatory would not take my message with kindness. Would love to know about Canadian Airliners if you don't mind. Thanks for the comment



    The bathrooms or lavatory are shared with the rest of us, so by the time we are on top of this gotta be there to smell the odor. Unfortunately both sexes have to share these 'high Johns.' I'd rather keep my own crackers or potatoe chips handy. Thanks for your comment!


    Audrey Howitt,

    The sign of the times? You are saving those Salmonellas and friendly Bacteria for another fellow passengers, but the word is out, so we all know by now!


    Good tip Molometer!

    Didn't think about the dates, like mom used to do on the gallon milk! But who would think about it when all you think is about Air Marshalls behind your back...or an unexpected: "This is a highjack....all stay seated, repit..."


    Hi there Pickles and rufus,

    Air is still free, but don't remind them, they might charge extra for air. "Credit cards only please!...No



    Daisy Mariposa,

    The Caterer has little control on the vegan meals. They have 7000 passengers on coach and for you and your hubby they would rather use any excuse. At 38,000 feet all you can say is thanks!


  • Lord De Cross profile image

    Joseph De Cross 6 years ago from New York

    Hello there THEHUG5,

    I skip first Class and their confortable Seats. TRhe difference is minimal. Extra wine, extre shrimps and the wall st. Journal..just add 900 dollars to the tab. Amazing how they get away with it! Thanks for your comments!


    Hi Rasta,

    There is more topics related to the issue and will be delivered on a later date. Thanks for asking!


    Hi there Kelly,

    Aevans knows better about Southwest than myself but by this interview, you can deduct that this might happen all over the industry. Long gone are the days of Pan Am and Eastern or even British Caledonian. Last week Spainair stopped its service leaving 11,000 passengers with noe return ticket. Just be careful and check your tray. You might be the 'lucky winner'



    Thanks for your fun comment. Peanuts are fine so far unless is necessary evil, you never know...!Don't get drunk! get even!


  • AEvans profile image

    Julianna 6 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

    Impressive interview. I don't believe I would eat the salads either. As for the forks and knives, I will go to the bathroom and scrub then down. Amazing hub, thanks for sharing! :)

  • AudreyHowitt profile image

    Audrey Howitt 6 years ago from California

    I think I will pack my own next time! Very informative hub!

  • molometer profile image

    molometer 6 years ago from United Kingdom

    Great Hub Lord and welcome back,

    Next time you are on a flight check the date, on the underside of the packaging!

    You will probably find it is at least 6 months to a year old.

    Sorry but it is also true. Don't know about first class?

  • Daisy Mariposa profile image

    Daisy Mariposa 6 years ago from Orange County (Southern California)


    Thanks for publishing this very informative and somewhat scary article. I'm a Vegetarian and my boyfriend is a Vegan. We usually bring our own food on flights. Some airlines forget to load the special meals on their flights. Other airlines don't know what Vegetarian and Vegan food is.

  • picklesandrufus profile image

    picklesandrufus 6 years ago from Virginia Beach, Va

    Excellent hub. I remember the days of good, safe food with real utensils. I just take my own now...don't trust anything on planes, even the air.

    Vote up!!

  • Just Ask Susan profile image

    Susan Zutautas 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

    I quit eating airline food after I was served a green egg omelette. The eggs were actually green and Dr. Seuss was nowhere around.

    Glad to see that you're back.

  • alocsin profile image

    alocsin 6 years ago from Orange County, CA

    Excellent and the video is the topper. One way around these inedibles is to order special meals. I've found Kosher, Muslim and Non-Vegetarian meals to be at least palatable because of their special preparation. Voting this Up and Interesting.

  • ThoughtSandwiches profile image

    ThoughtSandwiches 6 years ago from Reno, Nevada

    I must say...I don't fly much but when I do...I like to be drunk. Not TSA intervention (needed) drunk. Just drunk.

    Once I am strapped in I spend more time thinking about wanting a cigarette but when I eat...I eat the glazed honey nut packets. Are those OK...I did not see a reference.

    Sadly...Eddy is right...It is a dying industry. As for first class? Yeah...I don't think Southwest has that as an offering.



    (Welcome home and It's good to have you back!)

  • RealHousewife profile image

    Kelly Umphenour 6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    I hate flying but consider it a necessary evil....I am going to Texas is a couple of weeks - flying Southwest....I promise I'm not even going to look at the food now:) lol. Thanks for the heads up - very interesting!

  • rasta1 profile image

    Marvin Parke 6 years ago from Jamaica

    This is the first investigative reporting I have read on hubs. Do more.

  • THEHuG5 profile image

    THEHuG5 6 years ago

    Just about the only thing I will ever have on a plane now is a drink. I've flown on long flights several times and the food is always so disgusting I wouldn't even feed it to a stray dog. I've heard that it's not much better in stray class. Great hub, very interesting topic.

  • Lord De Cross profile image

    Joseph De Cross 6 years ago from New York

    Thanks Alecia,

    Some flights on domestic won't bother to go beyond the peanuts and drinks. But Some trips to Hawaii or Japan can be a great adventure: Mix turbulence, eggs and water...stir and serve. Sorry! Lavatory is full...! Fasten your seatbelts please!


  • Alecia Murphy profile image

    Alecia Murphy 6 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

    This last airline I was on only had peanuts and drinks. I have a nut allergy so eating the peanuts was out of the question but thankfully the drinks weren't suspect. Thanks for letting us know what to look out for. Great hub!

  • Lord De Cross profile image

    Joseph De Cross 6 years ago from New York

    You are welcome CClitgirl,

    Some videos on youtube are a far cry from reality. These employees making ends meet with their minimum wages act according to their paychecks. I won't say where this interview took place but it is real


  • cclitgirl profile image

    Cynthia Calhoun 6 years ago from Western NC

    Interesting read. I've always been leery of airline food. You prove me right. :) Thanks.

  • Lord De Cross profile image

    Joseph De Cross 6 years ago from New York


    I stick to the peanuts and crakers or the yougurt. But the left untouched. I wonder if the fast food industry is doing "so well too"?


  • Fullerman5000 profile image

    Ryan Fuller 6 years ago from Louisiana, USA

    I never really trusted that food either. Now you have given me more reason not too. Great work. I learned some things. I'll just stick to the peanuts.

  • Lord De Cross profile image

    Joseph De Cross 6 years ago from New York

    Hi there Tammy and Melovy,

    Thanks for reading. There was more left behind. The issue of the lettuce and the unwelcomed worms. The fetid odor next to the dumpster. The left over cookies that were recycled and so on. You have a brave hubby Melovy.LOL!


  • Melovy profile image

    Yvonne Spence 6 years ago from UK

    The best meals I’ve had were on Qantas, they actually tasted like real food. My hubby is a pilot and he has been known to complain about the food from time to time. I think most airlines in Europe have given up serving food.

    Fun hub, with a serious message, so a good combination.

  • tammyswallow profile image

    Tammy 6 years ago from North Carolina

    Seems everyone is in the business of profit at the expense of the consumer these days. All the more reasons for me to not get on a plane. Well done and informative. Thanks for this information. Glad you are back.

  • Lord De Cross profile image

    Joseph De Cross 6 years ago from New York

    Last week I traveled overseas, and bumped into not so clean forks and soggy sandwiches. Felt sorry for my friends and myself. I wouldn't imagine myself as a caterer and less a Pilot, those turbulences are getting nastier nowadays! I wonder if AA filed for bankruptcy due to this and so many issues. Thanks Bill for commenting.


  • Bill Yovino profile image

    Bill Yovino 6 years ago

    Nicely done. I remember, way back before deregulation, airlines had to charge the same rates by law. Their only means of trying to beat the competition was in the service they provided. Delta served steak and lobster in coach on their New York to Miami route - a far cry from today's nasty sandwich and a bag of peanuts.


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