On board menu

On board menu, also known as in-flight menu or airplane menu, is an integral part of the flying experience for many passengers. Its main goal is to ensure passengers’ comfort and satisfaction during the flight by offering them tasty food and drinks.

Dinner as part of the in-flight menu on Turkish Airlines.
Dinner as part of the in-flight menu on Turkish Airlines.

The history of in-flight menus dates back to the 1920s, when airlines began offering their passengers cold lunch boxes. With the development of air travel and technology, the quality and variety of in-flight catering gradually improved. Today, you can find a wide range of food and drinks on board, from traditional dishes to specialties inspired by international cuisine.

Breakfast as part of the in-flight menu on Turkish Airlines.
Breakfast as part of the in-flight menu on Turkish Airlines.

The selection of in-flight menus varies depending on the airline, the length of the flight (short flights, long flights) and the class you are traveling in. In economy class on long flights, you will usually encounter a basic menu that includes a main meal (often with a choice of meat, fish or vegetarian options), a small appetizer or dessert, and drinks. In premium classes such as business or first class, the selection tends to be more varied and includes more courses, premium ingredients, and a wider selection of drinks including alcohol.

Preparing food for airplanes is a rather demanding process that requires careful planning and adherence to strict hygiene and safety regulations. The food is usually prepared in specialized airline catering companies and then transported to the planes in a chilled or frozen state, where it is heated before serving.

Dinner as part of the in-flight menu on Turkish Airlines.
Dinner as part of the in-flight menu on Turkish Airlines.

One of the main challenges in preparing in-flight menus is the limited space and equipment in aircraft kitchens. Chefs must work with limited resources and adapt their recipes so that the food tastes good even under the conditions of lower pressure and humidity that prevail in the aircraft. This can affect the taste and texture of some dishes, especially those that contain a lot of spices or are naturally dry.

An important aspect of in-flight menus are the special dietary requirements of passengers. Most airlines offer the option to order a special menu that caters to various needs, such as gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, kosher or halal diets. However, these requirements must be reported well in advance before departure.

The best in-flight menu I have had the opportunity to taste was on long-haul Turkish Airlines flights, where the selection was really varied and the food was of high quality. On flights within Europe, it is now quite common not to offer any complimentary refreshments in economy class.

Personally, I think that in-flight menus on long flights are an important part of the flying experience and definitely have their value. For many passengers, it represents a pleasant diversion during a long flight.

Enjoy your meal and have a pleasant journey!