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Redefining In-Flight Catering

Business Aviation Catering for Extended Flights

Extended BizAv Trips

In-flight catering is a critical component of every business aviation trip. Passenger and flight crew catering needs are usually different, and this becomes more obvious during extended flights. While the cabin crew’s goal is to remain alert, passengers have a variety of possible in-flight and post-flight needs that the right food will help them reach. In-flight catering choices impact passenger mood, health, energy levels and the overall success of the trip.

While you don’t want to change your passengers’ normal eating patterns or preferred foods, there are steps you can take to enhance their flight experience through creative in-flight catering. Since you are dealing with an extended flight, consider the departure and arrival times as well as the change in time zones. A best practice is to coordinate meals and snacks with the time zones your passengers are departing from. It is smart to plan around passenger objectives during long flights. Make sure to find out if they are flying directly to a meeting, since they will need to be mentally alert and food choices will have a potential impact.

For overnight flights, or when passengers want to sleep, a carb-heavy meal, such as a pasta dinner or pancake breakfast, will help. If passengers want to work during the flight, choose protein packed foods to help them maintain a steady energy level. If you’re close to the destination and passengers want to be alert, consider food high in protein, such as eggs. As always, provide options that your passengers enjoy, while keeping any medical or allergy restrictions, or religious preferences, top of mind while planning catering.

High-protein, low-sugar foods help passengers maintain their energy level. Edamame, almonds and hazelnuts are all healthy snacks for boosting peak energy levels. Sugary and fatty foods, as well as heavy sauces, impair absorption and digestion while inducing drowsiness.

The cultural background of your passengers will play an important role on how they are used to eating.  This will impact every aspect of their dining experience, including their expectations on proper portion size and how their food should be served.  Eating utensils also vary across different cultures. Depending upon where your passengers come from, they may prefer to eat their meal with forks, spoons, chopsticks or their fingers. How the food is presented to them may also be important since some cultures like the entire meal on the table for self-service and sharing, while others prefer multi-course dining.

Food isn’t the only consideration for in-flight catering; beverages also impact your passengers. Serving sugary drinks can cause a burst of energy followed by an energy deficit. In addition, scientific research shows that artificial sweeteners, typically found in diet sodas can create excess hunger. Alcoholic beverages consumed at altitude can have a bigger impact than the same drink consumed at sea level. On extended aviation trips, everyone needs to remain well-hydrated by drinking plenty of water, or tea with minimal additives like sugar or milk, as dehydration happens easier at altitude.

Working with an experienced in-flight caterer who understands the needs specific business aviation culinary production will help you achieve the greatest possible experience for your passengers.  For in-flight catering, success is determined by the caterer’s level of expertise and the crew’s ability to pair the right dining experience with the objective of the passengers’ trip. To help the whole mission run smoothly, flight attendants need to ensure all necessary supplies and trimmings are onboard.

On extended flights it is critical to learn passenger in-flight catering preferences, if they plan to spend their time working or sleeping, and the nature of the business trip upon arrival. Food choices will impact passenger energy levels. Always try to match catering options to the flight type, passenger objectives and individual preferences.

Questions?

If you have any questions about this article, contact me at rogerleemann@airculinaire.com.

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