With airline services gradually beginning again, one point of difference that is becoming apparent is food service. Certain airlines are choosing to deliver on board catering while others are not.

As someone who rather enjoys eating when flying, it’s something I am watching very closely. Let’s put it this way… there is virtually no chance of me booking a ticket to fly with an airline that is not serving meals.

Does Removing Food Service Reduce Risk?

For both cabin crew and passengers, it is generally thought the less interaction that is had, the better. Therefore, removing the food service minimises this. While I completely understand the theory behind it, I don’t believe an aircraft cabin is any more dangerous than going to a supermarket.

The supermarket? Yes, that thing you bought. Someone had to produce it, pack it, send to a distribution point, where someone else loads it onto a truck, where it goes to your supermarket warehouse, is unloaded, put on another truck to your local store, unloaded again, then the box is opened, the contents removed, put onto a trolley, taken into the actual shop, where it is then put onto a shelf. At this point various people pass it until you come along and pick it up. All of this and you don’t see people avoiding buying food, do you?

Sure, I get it, you’re not interacting with an actual person, but the item is. It is likely several people have had their fingers on the thing you’re taking home to put in your fridge or cupboard.

Not a great analogy? How about restaurant take-away? When you buy your food, someone in the place comes out with your bag and hands it to you, then you go home and eat it. The only difference on a flight is that you’d eat it where you are sitting. Otherwise the process is relatively similar and I don’t see people avoiding take-away food places or home delivery for that matter. So why have the airlines decided they’re special? It’s especially amusing when they’re falling over themselves to point out their hospital grade filtration systems, something most places in the world lack.

What Are Airlines Doing?

One example is Qatar Airways, who continue to offer full on board service, with their cabin crew working in full personal protective equipment. While the images I have seen look like something from a scene from a US blockbuster movie, it certainly comes across as reassuring. They could work in circus clown outfits for all I care, as long as I get fed!

Others, such as British Airways are handing passengers a plastic bag of food and that’s it. In the same region, others are not offering food service at all, like Aer Lingus on European flights. Airlines such as Ryanair are offering limited on board food service, which seems to just be the exclusion of hot items.

Overall Thoughts

Clearly there is no consensus when it comes to food service, otherwise all the airlines would be doing the same thing. The fact that they are not leads be me to believe that most of the changes are to reassure people more than for actual harm reduction.

When travel starts to open up (and it already is), lets hope the food service returns. There is zero chance of me buying a business class ticket with any airline that is not serving food.

All of this is before we consider the supply chain. I’m sure all those people who are working in airline catering kitchens would like to be back at work again. Not to mention all the other people involved in this area.

What say you? Is the removal of food service an overreaction or should all airlines be doing it? Does what is offered on board affect your booking decision? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

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Featured image by Oxfordian Kissuth via Wikimedia Commons.
Carrots image by Lance Cheung, U.S. Department of Agriculture via Wikimedia Commons.