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Airline Catering  
User currently offlineFlyboy80 From United States of America, joined Jul 2001, 1878 posts, RR: 3
Posted (11 years 2 months 2 weeks 6 days 8 hours ago) and read 3418 times:

Hello All, this post will be aimed mainly at US airlines... But comments about how foreign airlines do it as well are welcome. It doesn't make sense to me when I go to Airlinemeals.net (A website you can go to and see various carriers onboard meals throughout their different classes of service) or observe the real thing. Catering companies must buy all this stuff (food, drinks, and a few other things), and then airlines order it for their flights from like a cateror's menu? Most of the hardware like the catering carts (which have the airline's logo on them most often) obviously belong to the airline, but The plastic trays that salads...etc are set in must belong to the catering company. They then coordinate to off load it at the outbound destination? Also do airlines send their types of branded napkins (for example UA uses those little boxes a lot)...etc to the catering companys for the catering companies to include in the carts when they load them on to the aircraft? What about the "ice crunchers"...etc, do they belong to the airline, or does the catering company own these and include that kind of stuff in the carts if it will be needed for that particular flight? This is so confusing to me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Something else here as well even though it is a little off subject. I noticed that a lot of what I thought were ovens in aircraft, are actually drawers!?!?!? I always thought that food was put in those, most oftenly, and drinks were in the carts, and Cups, napkins...etc were stored in those little nooks and craneys! OH this is so confusing if someone could just explain a little of this to me it would be great!

8 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineJAT From Canada, joined Feb 2000, 1101 posts, RR: 9
Reply 1, posted (11 years 2 months 2 weeks 6 days 8 hours ago) and read 3408 times:

I don't know how it works, but a lot of airlines have their own catering. For example, I know JAT has its own catering and its own food factory where it prepares the food for its flights. They own their own dishes etc. I'm sure when airlines order napkins, dishes etc... they can have the manufacturer inprint their logo on it. If an airline works only through a catering company the I'm sure the catering company takes care of these details for the airlines. There are a lot of FAs on this forum so I'm sure you'll get a more accurate answer soon enough.

Here for example you can see that MALEV has its own catering:


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Photo © Viktor László - Budapest Aviation Photography




Here you can read about how JAT's catering developed since the inception of the airline:

http://www.jat.com/r/home.php?Jezik=en&lev=3

Also, there are pictures of their meals on the website.


User currently offlineAcidradio From United States of America, joined Mar 2001, 1874 posts, RR: 10
Reply 2, posted (11 years 2 months 2 weeks 6 days 7 hours ago) and read 3383 times:
AIRLINERS.NET CREW
FORUM MODERATOR

You are on the right track for most of this. Company branded accessories are bought in bulk and distributed to airline caterers to be included on the flights. Here and there you will see a United coffee pot that snuck onto a Northwest flight but they are usually good about it.

Each flight is provisioned as need be depending on the type of aircraft and the type of flight. Each aircraft has a different galley configuration so there will be different kinds of carts and different numbers of them. The carts will always be the same amount for an aircraft but will be filled with different items as the flight length or type of service dictates. An aircraft has to have either no carts in the galley or all of them in the galley, so on a short flight you might simply have a bunch of mostly empty carts filled with pretzels and soda beverages or on a longer flight you might have carts totally full with meals. At the end, the caterers offload the used carts and take them back to the catering facility where the perishables are disposed of, the soda beverages are replenished, linens (if applicable) and the dishes washed.

Each cart spot has a number on it as well as other containers that get swapped out by the caterers. This is to assure uniformity, completeness and to make it easier on the flight attendants so they know that they actually do have everything onboard for the service. That and in the air it certainly helps them to not have to search for five minutes for an item and to have it always in the same place.

Carts are usually owned (or leased) by the airline but given to the caterers for use on their flights. For the catering, airlines are charged on a per-flight basis dependant on what is needed in the catering provisions. A certain kind of aircraft doing a meal flight will always need X number of first-class meals and Y number of coach meals plus a sufficient amount of beverages per passenger to be included, so the cost is fairly fixed. A non-meal flight will include sufficient soda beverages and a number of "tidbits" which are pretzels, peanuts, almonds and the like.

Beverages may be stored in multiple places. The flight attendants are apt to use beverages from the carts first as they are doing a service down the aisles. The other containers are if they run out or need to stock up on another type of beverage.

The drawers you are referring to may be warmers, although I am not certain as there are a ton of different galley configurations out there ranging from basic to elaborate.



Ich haben zwei Platzspielen und ein Microphone
User currently offlineFlyboy7974 From United States of America, joined Jan 2003, 1540 posts, RR: 2
Reply 3, posted (11 years 2 months 2 weeks 6 days 7 hours ago) and read 3366 times:

i have had the same questions about this, so while we are here, how often does an airline change their menus when they cater, and once i saw on here a long time ago, but i lost the website, what is the site that the airlines go to when picking their in flight meal choices and options. there was a general company that had a site, and it had diff menu options, let say for coach or first, domestic or business, that kind of thing


User currently offline744rules From Belgium, joined Mar 2002, 407 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (11 years 2 months 2 weeks 6 days 7 hours ago) and read 3355 times:

I think catering menu's are revised every 6 months (summerschedule/winterschedule). The catering loaded depends on the sector flown (longhaul, shorthaul, charter,....) and of the time of the day (in c-class you might have eggs and bacon in the morning and salmon in the evening on the same sector). Most airlines have a rotation of 10days. This is to avoid that pax traveling on same FLT (ie the first flight on ever Tuesday) will be getting the same meal during six months. If airlines have special requirements, they will have arrangements with the caterer (SAA used to serve springbok, which was kept in freezer at catering)

User currently offlineFLAIRPORT From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 5, posted (11 years 2 months 2 weeks 6 days 7 hours ago) and read 3352 times:

you call it catering companies? Right now mst airlines use the world famous "Slop in a bowl" company! They just say catering to make it sound elegant!

User currently offlineAcidradio From United States of America, joined Mar 2001, 1874 posts, RR: 10
Reply 6, posted (11 years 2 months 2 weeks 6 days 6 hours ago) and read 3333 times:
AIRLINERS.NET CREW
FORUM MODERATOR

OK. So that made me a "Slop in a bowl" Agent for a while  Big grin For the sake of discussion, I will use the term catering as that is more widely recognized than "Slop in a bowl". And it's a few less words to type...

Catering companies often have ownership ties to airlines. LSG SkyChefs is of course part of Lufthansa, Chelsea Catering is owned by Continental, Swissair used to own Gategourmet, etc. What is ironic is that airlines are sometimes buying catering services from their competitors this way, but that gives them access to a network of caterers that are at every major airport to provide services. In a hub, to maximize the benefits of economic scale, you may see the major airlines handle their own catering in-house in one form or another. NW in MSP uses LSG SkyChefs to make the food and provision the carts, but they are loaded onto NW trucks and loaded onto aircraft by NW employees. All the other airlines have SkyChefs do the whole thing for them in MSP - make the food and load the carts onto the aircraft. It would not be cost effective for an airline to do its own catering at a spoke station so they subcontract the whole job.

The airlines buy their own imprinted items in bulk (napkins, silverware, plates, etc) and distribute them to airline caterers that they use to maximize the cost savings of economies of scale. It is easier for them to buy napkins and cups perhaps by the truckload from a manufacturer and distribute them as needed. Food and beverages are going to be purchased in the same manner as any other very large institutional buyer, on contract, by the pallet-load.

Like the example of SAA and the springbok, different airlines have different requirements for cuisine and menus so that is all worked out on contract. Caterers will often keep a lot of different stuff on hand in their kitchens to custom provision flights for each airline.



Ich haben zwei Platzspielen und ein Microphone
User currently offlineEx_SQer From United States of America, joined Apr 2002, 1436 posts, RR: 5
Reply 7, posted (11 years 2 months 2 weeks 6 days ago) and read 3260 times:

Most of your questions have already been answered, except a couple:

Catering companies must buy all this stuff (food, drinks, and a few other things), and then airlines order it for their flights from like a cateror's menu?
Most premium airlines will set their own menu and the caterers will make the dishes that the airlines request.

Most of the hardware like the catering carts (which have the airline's logo on them most often) obviously belong to the airline, but The plastic trays that salads...etc are set in must belong to the catering company.
Usually no. Different airlines have different tray setups requiring different sized plates and bowls. Airlines purchase them for the caterers to use and they are stored in the catering facility.

how often does an airline change their menus when they cater
Depends on the airline and the passenger profile. For SQ, if it is a long-haul route with mostly tourist traffic, the menu will change on average every three months. If it has a lot of business traffic, it will change every month. One short-haul business route even has weekly menu changes.

Catering facilities and their operations are mindboggling.


User currently offlineSQ772 From Singapore, joined Nov 2001, 1792 posts, RR: 5
Reply 8, posted (11 years 2 months 2 weeks 5 days 21 hours ago) and read 3225 times:

Mindboggling but very fascinating. You'll understand how everything works if you can get yourself on a guided tour of an airline catering facility.

Most premium airlines will set their own menu and the caterers will make the dishes that the airlines request.

Most airlines (well, at least that's what they do in SQ) conduct meal tasting sessions with their caterers regularly (every quarter). That happens when the airline plans to introduce a new menu cycle for its flights. The menu is usually developed by the airline themselves, and the caterer would have to cook and present them according to the airline's requirements...down to minute details such as the portion/weight of the steak, how many cherries on the dessert, how the meal should be presented on the tray etc... Once that is done, airlines will have to sit down with the caterer to discuss the price of each meal, or if the caterer is unable to provide a certain item, what can be used to replace it etc. All these will have to be ironed out before the new menu cycle starts.

Everything that has the airline's logo on it belongs to the airline, yes even flasks, towels and peanuts that have the airline logo on the packet. They are usually shipped in bulk to the catering facility...



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