How Do Airlines Make Meals for Thousands of People?

Plane taking off

The process of sourcing ingredients and creating high-quality meals is challenging enough without all the added complications of the logistics involved in preparing meals that are to be served on aeroplanes.

Airline food delivery

There are so many different requirements that must be met, such as ensuring the food is contained in the small tray dimensions that will fit into the trolley, making sure the food arrives during the aeroplane’s turnaround and the food that is to be served hot must be able to be heated by the aircraft ovens. Then there is also the small matter that these meals must be mass-produced for thousands of people each day.

Airline catering services have all these problems to overcome, as well as many more, such as providing meal variety, working around dietary requirements and the fact that people’s taste perception changes when they are in the air. The ingredients to the meals will usually include much more salt than would be used in preparing standard meals, as research shows that around 30% of taste is lost when flying at altitude.

Promeus is a cloud-based system that can assist an airline to complete all these things with ease.


How thousands of airline meals can be made

In-flight meals are generally prepared in catering facilities that are on-site or close to the airport, to minimise delivery times and costs. There will be a large catering team with prepared ingredients and preparation instructions to adhere to, so that the process is as quick as possible.

With targets to hit a very short preparation time, another way that the process is made quicker, is by using advanced technology such as high-powered water lasers that cut meals such as cake into precise dimensions.

The meals will usually be prepared within 10 hours of the flight departure, with catering companies expected to prepare the meals as close to the scheduled flight time as they can, factoring in the logistical details. The meals must go through security checks including scanners to ensure that there are no security risks contained in the meals, which also takes up additional time.

Airline meal trayThe number of meals that are needed for the designated aircraft will be transported in refrigerated catering trucks to the airport’s loading area, with delivery staff keeping up to date with any flight delays that occur so that delivery arrangements can be changed.

Once the meals have been loaded onto the aircraft, they are placed in refrigerators prior to the hot meals being reheated in the ovens. Clear and simple instructions will be provided to flight attendants, so they do not have to spend time working out what they need to do.

Catering companies and airlines are continually looking at ways that they can improve the process, such as using new technology like Lomature’s inflight catering management system. This software solution is implemented to help plan the preparation and delivery processes and reduce costs by accurately forecasting the demand for in-flight meals. Find out more about the Lomature services.


In-flight Caterers

Check out the Flying Food Group, a global in-flight services caterer who works with the world’s premier airlines based in the United States. They are also using our Promeus system, which enables them to invoice the airlines for their services.



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