When was the last time you were excited to eat on an airplane?
Unless you travel first or business class, airline food leaves much to be desired if you’re lucky enough to get served a full meal.
However, this wasn’t always the case. Airplane food has gone through a transformation in the last century. If you’re interested in learning how airline food started, we’ll walk you through the history.
Let’s get started.
The Beginning: October 11, 1919
Airline food had its beginnings at the start of the 20th century. On October 11, 1919, Handley-Page served food on an airplane for the first time during a flight from London to Paris.
Passengers on this flight could purchase a pre-packed lunch box for only three shillings.
The Breakthrough: 1936
United Airlines revolutionized the way airlines served food to passengers by installing onboard kitchens. Passengers began to enjoy hot meals on their flights.
Soon after United installed kitchens onboard, many others followed.
The Golden Age: 1950s
Back in the day, before passengers arrived in their pajamas, travel used to be a luxurious experience. During the 1950s, passengers could expect top food service on every flight. The cabins were spacious and the food decadent.
Pan Am ensured every passenger dined in style. You could expect silver coffee carafes, sip tea from fine china, decadent dishes, and let’s not forget white tablecloths.
Fast Travel: The Age of the Concorde
With the introduction of the Concorde in 1969, which could get passengers from London to New York in under 3 hours, people expected speed and quality.
These flights offered quality cuisines such as caviar, lobster, truffles, foie gras, and more. Unfortunately, the Concorde took its last flight in 2003.
The Rise of Affordable Flying
Luxurious dining experiences aboard a flight meant expensive plane tickets. In the 1970s, it became more important to provide affordable flights than 5-star cuisine. Southwest Airlines, the first low-cost airline, took flight in 1971 and is now one of the top airlines in the world.
It didn’t take long for others to follow. In 1985, Ryanair entered the market. Their business model was all about providing affordable flights, which meant passengers had to pay for their food.
Although Ryanair has been criticized for selling overpriced food or drink to passengers, most people think the cheap flights are worth it. Ryanair currently has a fleet of over 300 planes and is a popular choice for travelers.
September 11, 2001 Changes Everything
After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, most airlines suffered immense financial losses. Most of them decide to cut back to only providing snacks such as peanuts and soft drinks in order to cut costs.
The result of the attack also prompted airlines to change to plastic cutlery.
Fast-forward to 2006, when a threat to blow up planes using liquid explosives was exposed. With more restrictions than ever, passengers have to purchase overpriced drinks.
In the Present
While it’s true that passengers continue to choose cheap flights over a fine dining experience, some airlines are putting in the extra effort.
They have gone to great lengths such as hiring celebrity chefs such as Maneet Chauhan and Carlo Cracco to design their menus.
Airline Food: The Bottom Line
In the beginning, airline food was all about the experience of flying in style and luxury. But over time, it became more about getting from point A to point B in the cheapest way, and food stopped being a priority.
However, some airlines don’t want to completely lose their touch and prefer to give their passengers a glimpse of the golden age of air travel.
Par-Avion specializes in providing luxurious in-flight dining. For more information, check out our in-flight catering.