Our Blog

    Comprehensive Guide to Inflight Catering Services: Onboard and Airline Catering

    triangle | By Just Aviation Team

    Inflight catering services are a pivotal component of the flight operations enhancing the passenger experience on every flight. The provision of high-quality onboard catering is not just a service but an integral part of airline hospitality that reflects the airline’s brand and commitment to customer satisfaction. As passengers spend considerable time in transit, airline catering becomes a critical aspect of their travel journey, offering comfort and a sense of indulgence while flying.

    How Airlines Can Adapt to Evolving Passenger Food Trends

    Airlines can adapt to evolving passenger food trends by offering diverse and customizable inflight catering services. By analyzing passenger preferences and global culinary trends, onboard catering menus can be innovatively designed to cater to a wide range of dietary requirements and taste profiles. Incorporating fresh, local ingredients and offering seasonal menus can significantly enhance the travel airline catering experience, making it a memorable part of the journey.

    Why is Inflight Catering Important?

    Inflight catering is important because it serves as a key differentiator among airlines in a competitive market. Quality airline catering can elevate the overall travel experience, influencing passenger loyalty and satisfaction. It also plays a crucial role in meeting the nutritional needs of travelers, ensuring they arrive at their destinations well-nourished and refreshed.


    Inflight Catering Services’ Market Size, Share & Industry Forecast 2023-2024

    The inflight catering market is projected to experience significant growth from 2023 to 2024. In 2023, the market size reached approximately USD 14.54 billion and is estimated to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.60%. By the end of 2024, the market is expected to expand to around USD 17.15 billion. This growth trajectory suggests that onboard catering services are increasingly becoming a substantial part of the airline catering industry.

    The travel airline catering sector is responding to the rising demand for enhanced passenger experiences, with a forecasted market size of USD 25.87 billion by 2029, growing at a CAGR of 8.57% during the period from 2024 to 2029. These figures underscore the importance of inflight catering services as a key component of the travel industry’s value proposition.


    What Are the Various Types of Air Catering Services?

    The realm of inflight catering services encompasses a variety of offerings designed to meet the diverse needs and preferences of passengers. Here are the different types of air catering, highlighting the aspects and the role they play in enhancing the travel experience:

    Standard Airline Catering

    This is the most common type of airline catering, providing passengers with pre-set meal options that are often determined by the class of service. Economy class meals typically consist of a main dish, a side, and a dessert, while premium classes may offer a more elaborate menu with multiple courses.

    Special Meal Catering

    Recognizing the importance of dietary restrictions and preferences, inflight catering services often include special meals such as vegetarian, vegan, kosher, halal, low-sodium, and gluten-free options. These meals are prepared with careful consideration to ensure they meet the specific dietary requirements of passengers.

    Beverage Services

    An integral part of onboard catering, beverage services offer a range of drinks from soft beverages to alcoholic options. The selection can vary based on the duration of the flight and the class of service, with premium cabins often featuring a more extensive wine and spirits list.

    Snack Services

    For shorter flights or as an additional offering, snack services provide light bites such as sandwiches, wraps, or small snacks. These are designed to cater to passengers who may not require a full meal or prefer to eat at their own pace during the flight.

    Buy-On-Board Catering

    Some airlines offer a buy-on-board program where passengers can purchase meals and snacks beyond the complimentary offerings. This type of travel airline catering allows for greater flexibility and choice, catering to the individual preferences of travelers.

    Celebration and Seasonal Catering

    To enhance the festive spirit, airlines may offer special menus during holidays or celebrations. These menus are crafted to reflect the season or occasion, adding an element of surprise and delight to the inflight catering services.

    Children’s Catering

    Tailored specifically for younger travelers, children’s catering includes fun and nutritious meal options that are both appealing and suitable for kids. This thoughtful approach ensures that even the youngest passengers have a pleasant dining experience onboard.

    Each type of air catering plays a crucial role in the overall passenger experience, with inflight catering services striving to provide a balance of taste, nutrition, and comfort. By offering a range of options, airline catering can significantly contribute to the satisfaction and well-being of travelers, making it a key aspect of travel airline catering.


    How Do Operators Choose Their In-Flight Menus?

    Operators determine their inflight catering offerings through a meticulous process that involves several considerations to ensure passenger satisfaction, safety, and operational efficiency. Here’s an in-depth look at the factors influencing the decision-making process for what food to serve onboard:

    Passenger Demographics and Preferences

    Operators analyze data on passenger demographics, including nationality, age, and travel class, to tailor their menus. This ensures that the inflight catering services cater to cultural preferences and dietary needs.

    Flight Duration and Time of Day

    The length of the flight and the time of departure influence meal planning. Short-haul flights may offer light snacks or meals, while long-haul flights provide full-service dining. Breakfast, lunch, or dinner services are aligned with the local time of departure.

    Culinary Trends and Dietary Restrictions

    Staying current with global culinary trends and accommodating various dietary restrictions are crucial. Operators work with nutritionists and chefs to create balanced meals that include vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, and religious-compliant options.

    Budget Constraints and Cost Efficiency

    Cost is a significant factor. Operators must balance the quality of meals with budgetary constraints, often leading to partnerships with airline catering companies that can deliver quality at scale.

    Galley Equipment Limitations

    The type and capacity of galley equipment on aircraft limit the complexity of meals that can be served. Ovens, chillers, and storage space dictate the menu’s feasibility, with a focus on dishes that can be efficiently reheated or served cold.

    Food Safety and Hygiene Standards

    Strict food safety regulations govern onboard catering. Meals are prepared in hygienic conditions, with temperature control and safe handling practices to prevent foodborne illnesses.

    Supply Chain and Logistics

    The sourcing of ingredients and delivery of meals involve a complex logistics network. Operators must ensure a consistent supply of fresh and high-quality ingredients, often requiring contracts with suppliers well in advance.

    Environmental Considerations

    Sustainability is becoming increasingly important. Operators consider the environmental impact of their inflight catering services, opting for locally sourced ingredients and reducing plastic and waste.

    Feedback and Continuous Improvement

    Operators collect feedback from passengers and crew to continually refine their travel airline catering offerings. This feedback loop allows for adjustments to menus and service based on real-world experiences.

    The decision on what food to serve on flights is a result of careful consideration of passenger needs, operational capabilities, safety standards, and financial factors. The goal is to provide a pleasant and safe dining experience that enhances the overall travel experience while adhering to the logistical requirements of airline catering. Just Aviation plays a crucial role as a business flight supporter in this process, ensuring that all aspects of in-flight catering meet high standards and contribute to passenger satisfaction.



    1. How many meals are served on a 7-hour flight?

    On a 7-hour flight, passengers can typically expect to receive one main meal and a snack as part of the inflight catering services. This offering is designed to ensure comfort and satisfaction during the travel experience.

    1. How many meals are served on a 9-hour flight?

    For a 9-hour flight, the onboard catering usually includes one main meal and a snack. However, some airlines may offer an additional light meal or refreshment depending on the time of day and the specific airline catering policies.

    1. How do airlines determine their in-flight menu?

    Airlines indeed have the autonomy to decide what food to serve as part of their airline catering services. They meticulously plan the menu to cater to a diverse palette, considering factors like flight duration, time of day, and passenger preferences. The decision-making process for travel airline catering involves culinary experts to ensure a pleasant inflight dining experience.

    1. What safety protocols are integral to airline catering?

    Safety protocols integral to airline catering encompass the HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) system and the DO&CO Global Food Safety Standard. HACCP is vital for identifying potential hazards and establishing critical control points in the food preparation process. The DO&CO Global Food Safety Standard outlines specific critical control points, standard operating procedures, and hazard analysis for safe food preparation and service in airline catering.

    1. What are the guidelines for food storage and temperature control?

    Guidelines for food storage and temperature control include the Food Storage and Date Marking SOP and the Temperature Control at Dispatch CCP. The Food Storage and Date Marking SOP ensures proper storage conditions and tracking of food expiration dates to maintain freshness and safety. The Temperature Control at Dispatch CCP mandates monitoring the temperature of food at the time of dispatch to the aircraft, ensuring it remains within safe limits.

    1. What measures are taken for hygiene and contamination prevention?

    Measures taken for hygiene and contamination prevention involve the Personal Hygiene SOP and the Cleaning and Disinfection SOP. The Personal Hygiene SOP mandates regular handwashing, the use of gloves, and other personal hygiene practices to prevent cross-contamination. The Cleaning and Disinfection SOP outlines the cleaning and sanitization of preparation areas and equipment to maintain a sterile environment.

    1. What is the process for handling special meal requests?

    The process for handling special meal requests is detailed in the Control of Allergy-related Special Meals SOP. This document outlines the protocol for preparing meals for passengers with allergies, ensuring no cross-contact with allergens.


    At Just Aviation, we’re committed to providing unparalleled inflight catering services that blend culinary finesse with the highest standards of onboard catering. Our airline catering expertise ensures every journey is complemented by exceptional travel airline catering, making your flight an indulgent experience. We cater to a variety of dietary needs, including vegetarian and vegan requests, healthy and diet meals, gluten-free food requests, and meals for people who have food allergies. Trust Just Aviation to elevate your travel with our signature catering excellence.



    contact us icon

    Select your destination

    contact us icon

    prepare your documents

    contact us icon

    contact us