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Airline food distribution system

Posted: Tue Jan 29, 2019 9:32 am
by gia777
Hi Guys, I was wondering something, maybe someone can explain this better...

Let's say an airline scheduled to fly tomorrow with B737-800 with 2 class configuration let's say 12J / 150Y
Do airlines provide all 162 foods into the plane even thou the load factor on that flight for tomorrow will be only 50% ?
or what about if J class is only 1 pax and Y class is full pax....do airlines also stock the plane with 12 food for J class?

and how an airline can maintain the same taste and food quality according to the airline's standard food of preparation if the plane is not taking off from their home base?

i have always wondered about this.

thanks

Re: Airline food distribution system

Posted: Tue Jan 29, 2019 10:47 am
by 747fly
For BA at least, meals are loaded to passenger load. Y and W are loaded exactly (i.e. 100 meals for 100 pax), J and F are slightly overcatered to give more of a chance of first choice of meal. The remaining J meals are then for the cabin crew to eat.

In terms of your second question, it’s very difficult! Some down route catering is fabulous (mainly out of Asia), others less so (USA, oddly). All my opinion of course!

Re: Airline food distribution system

Posted: Tue Jan 29, 2019 11:03 am
by superjeff
[quote="gia777"]Hi Guys, I was wondering something, maybe someone can explain this better...

Let's say an airline scheduled to fly tomorrow with B737-800 with 2 class configuration let's say 12J / 150Y
Do airlines provide all 162 foods into the plane even thou the load factor on that flight for tomorrow will be only 50% ?
or what about if J class is only 1 pax and Y class is full pax....do airlines also stock the plane with 12 food for J class?

and how an airline can maintain the same taste and food quality according to the airline's standard food of preparation if the plane is not taking off from their home base?

i have always wondered about this.

thanks[/quote

It depends on the airline and the flight itself. IF there is food service some intra-European and most domestic U.S. and Canadian flights, for example, most of the time the food is loaded based on the actual load. The BA system (1 for 1 in economy; slight over-cater in F and J) is probably pretty normal for long haul flights. Buy On Board for Economy class is generally based on history (i.e., there are 150 Economy Class seats on a 738, and usually 25 buy the Turkey sandwich), they may load a few extra "just in case". If a flight is booked for 100 passengers in Economy and 125 show up (maybe another flight canceled, etc.), they will have "standby meals" available to top off. Today the airlines can't afford the waste they once did years ago.

Re: Airline food distribution system

Posted: Tue Jan 29, 2019 11:26 am
by dean
gia777 wrote:
how an airline can maintain the same taste and food quality according to the airline's standard food of preparation if the plane is not taking off from their home base?


This is just one part of the operations related tasks and you can imagine how complex and challenging it can get.
Usually airline catering departments specify the requirements to become a catering partner outside of the main hubs. They have to follow strict rules and provide a quality control system. The more premium you go, the stricter the rules are.
But not every destination can meet those requirements. In those cases they carry the (premium) meals for the return leg as well, out of the main HUB. For example if you fly BUD-DXB on EK first class, you will get catered with meals carried from DXB. However, if you fly the same product on the FRA-DXB leg, you will likely get a meal that was produced in Frankfurt, because LSG Sky Chefs can meet the requirements set by EK.

Re: Airline food distribution system

Posted: Tue Jan 29, 2019 11:47 am
by ua900
Also, special meals are frequently available for those who want them. While the standard is that they have to be ordered at least 24 hours in advance, your meal could come from faraway places, e.g. a special meal in Asia could travel from the producer in BKK to DXB or SIN before it's ever boarded on the plane where it is consumed. Notwithstanding a breakdown in logistics or a last minute seat change + the passenger in that seat accepting your meal (and the crew not checking for names) you will get the exact meal of your choice. Some airlines now also offer premium meals in coach for a fee by pre-ordering, so that too becomes a special order of sorts that requires extra handling. Between channels like BoB, special meals, pre-ordering and the regular meals for each class, the product segmentation and focus on ancillary revenue mirrors what one sees elsewhere with seats / class of service, boarding groups and fast track lanes.

Re: Airline food distribution system

Posted: Tue Jan 29, 2019 12:23 pm
by CanadianNorth
Around here the pop/juice/snacks/etc. are loaded to a standard quantity and then the actual meals are made to suit the loads.

A morning shift will do up the meals for the flights that afternoon/evening, and an evening shift does the meals for the following morning. One of the first steps is they check the loads and then add a couple to be safe. For example with a 120 seat aircraft and 100 people booked for the flight tomorrow morning then the evening shift tonight might make, for example, 45 ham sandwiches, 45 turkey sandwiches, 20 veggie sandwiches. This allows everyone one sandwich plus an ish factor in case we pick up some last minute bookings or whatever. Also, when people want and/or require a special meal (allergies, gluten free, whatever) the standard procedure is they will need to inform reservations of that, reservations will put a note beside their name on the manifest etc., and then when catering checks to see the loads they will skim through those notes to see if there are any special requests and accommodate as required.

Aircraft are usually catered for round trip, there'll probably be a trolley of sandwhiches for the flight down and a trolley of deli trays for the flight back up or something like that. If the aircraft is going to be away for more than 24 hours then that is too long to keep the food before serving so in that case they would usually cater the flight out and then after that just order a batch of catering from a catering company wherever the aircraft is going. Our operation that normally only happens with charters so it would be up to the customer what they want us to order for catering if any.

Re: Airline food distribution system

Posted: Tue Jan 29, 2019 12:24 pm
by ClassicLover
I was chatting to BA CityFlyer cabin crew when flying in Club Europe once.

There were three of us in Club Europe and they catered three meals - two of the steak and one of the fish. They try very hard to reduce wasting the food.

When I have upgraded to Club Europe by paying at the airport check-in desk on two or three occasions, I have been told that I might not get a meal served. This is because the flight is already catered to the expected load, so it would rely on someone refusing a meal for me to get one. Every time I have still received a meal, as someone always refuses the food.

That's how British Airways do it on short-haul European flights in business class anyway.

Re: Airline food distribution system

Posted: Wed Jan 30, 2019 7:01 pm
by gia777
Hey guys, thanks for answering my question. So in short, all airlines now are trying to reduce the food waste. load the meal according to pax load.

Re: Airline food distribution system

Posted: Wed Jan 30, 2019 7:22 pm
by PatrickZ80
One specific case that needs to be mentioned is Norwegian. They do this different from other airlines.

Upon booking a flight with Norwegian you get a list of meals and you can pick the one you like. There is also an option for "no meal" since meals on board with Norwegian aren't free. They charge € 35 for a meal on board. Of course the "no meal" option is free.

This way they know exactly which passenger has which meal and they load exactly those meals and that quantity of them on board. The cabin crew has got a list with seat numbers and meals and they hand you exactly the meal you picked while you booked. If you selected "no meal" while booking and once on board you decide you do want a meal you're out of luck, they don't have one for you.

Re: Airline food distribution system

Posted: Wed Jan 30, 2019 9:04 pm
by Eindhoven
gia777 wrote:
Hi Guys, I was wondering something, maybe someone can explain this better...

Let's say an airline scheduled to fly tomorrow with B737-800 with 2 class configuration let's say 12J / 150Y
Do airlines provide all 162 foods into the plane even thou the load factor on that flight for tomorrow will be only 50% ?
or what about if J class is only 1 pax and Y class is full pax....do airlines also stock the plane with 12 food for J class?

and how an airline can maintain the same taste and food quality according to the airline's standard food of preparation if the plane is not taking off from their home base?

i have always wondered about this.

thanks


On short-medium haul like a 737 most airlines do not serve full meals anymore. Some serve a cold meal which is a sandwich. Hot meals are only served on long haul.

Often the cold meals are loaded at the home base for the return trip, they do not take food from the destination airport.

PatrickZ80 wrote:
One specific case that needs to be mentioned is Norwegian. They do this different from other airlines.

Upon booking a flight with Norwegian you get a list of meals and you can pick the one you like. There is also an option for "no meal" since meals on board with Norwegian aren't free. They charge € 35 for a meal on board. Of course the "no meal" option is free.

This way they know exactly which passenger has which meal and they load exactly those meals and that quantity of them on board. The cabin crew has got a list with seat numbers and meals and they hand you exactly the meal you picked while you booked. If you selected "no meal" while booking and once on board you decide you do want a meal you're out of luck, they don't have one for you.


But only on DY long haul. On DY short haul they don't have meals.

Re: Airline food distribution system

Posted: Wed Jan 30, 2019 10:09 pm
by blooc350
For Singapore Airlines:

The day before the actual flight, the SQ ground staff at the station will pull up the book load for the next day flight. For example. SQ001 SFO-HKG 01FEB2019 has 3FCL, 20JCL, 12PEY, 150Y. They will also pull up the book the cook as well as other special meals for SQ001. They will then minus the BTC meals as well as the special meals from the actual book load to get the regular meals. Orders will be placed through the caterer (In this case for SFO, it will be Flying Food Group). The SQ coordinator at Flying Food Group will order the meals based on what the SQ ground staff has submitted. As meals are ordered the night before and placed through the caterer, PAX can not ask for any special meals during check in.

FCL (3 First Class passengers, only 2 has BTC, one will be served the regular FCL meals)

2 Book the Cook order
Lobster Thermidor (Dinner)
Dim Sum (Breakfast)

Steak (Dinner)
Raspberry waffles (Breakfast)

1 regular FCL meal

Economy meal
AVML X 20
HDML X20
LCMLX10
Total- 50 special meals.

150 (Book load in Economy) subtract the 50 (Special meals) = 100 Regular economy meals

Re: Airline food distribution system

Posted: Wed Jan 30, 2019 10:17 pm
by LH707330
In DL J they started letting you pre-order one of four options, that probably cuts down on the extras they uplift. At some point, I think it'll be cheaper to let the customers preselect the options when booking, that way there's a greater perception of choice, and a further reduction in food waste.