It’s a question that has stumped countless travelers before. An innocent question that only scratches the surface of a complex operational environment happening in airports all over the world.
Have you ever thought about the difficulty of preparing an in-flight menu for hundreds of thousands of passengers on a daily basis? How would airline caterers be able to keep track of passengers’ meal preference on every flight? What happens if a flight is delayed? Would the caterers have the capacity to store and deliver the meals at a later time without violating any food safety standards? What happens if there is a last minute flight booking? The culinary needs of that last-minute passenger must also be given equal consideration.
From preparing the meals to storing them – and all the way to delivery, in-flight catering is a planning puzzle in every sense of the word.
Planning in-flight meals has gotten a lot easier in recent years through online pre-ordering, integrated as part of the ticket booking process. The process has now become even more comprehensive, offering granular control to suit specific customer preferences and dietary requirements. But that added layer of customization for the customer has brought about more complexity for airline caterers.
Airlines are seeking greater choice and product innovation from their suppliers in order to deliver the best dining experience in the sky. But this is still an industry battling with tight budgets and narrow margins. Cost efficiency is key. Too much food is wasted food, and wasted food is wasted expense.
With most catering services being outsourced, airline caterers must also see themselves as specialists in logistics in order to survive. Every minute on the ground costs the airline money. This makes a speedy meal delivery to the aircraft absolutely essential.
Want to know how LSG Sky Chefs-Brahims and KLM Catering Services manage the flow of millions of airline meals from kitchen to plane in a highly complex and regulated environment? This webinar will get you started. Find out how optimization empowers ground service providers to manage disruptions efficiently, while taking into account:
- The wide variety of aircraft and vehicle sizes
- The need for highly accurate assignment of delivery equipment and personnel
- The different requirements of meals depending on airline or time of day
So keep this in mind the next time you get upset because your in-flight meal of choice isn’t available anymore. You now know better.
This post first appeared in Airlines International magazine.