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5 Ways to Improve Your In-Flight Meal Experience, From a Flight Attendant

July 30, 2017
5 min read
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TPG’s favorite Flight Attendant Insider Carrie A. Trey is back, this time with a look at some of the ways you can make your in-flight meal experience even more enjoyable.

1. Lower Your Expectations

I know this sounds harsh, but I’m actually being quite serious here. Like anything else in life, if you come on board expecting restaurant-quality meals, the reality is that you’re going to be disappointed because that’s not something we’re physically capable of offering. We’re reheating meals that were prepared on the ground and doing our best to make the presentation palatable. Board the airplane with lower expectations however, and we might be able to pleasantly surprise you. Maybe we can even throw in a fresh egg (or two) or perhaps some nicely warmed-up croissants that are still light and fluffy. But if you expect a medium-rare steak or pasta that’s perfectly al dente, the reality is that you probably won’t be getting that, so why set yourself up for disappointment?

If you think this is what your meal will look like in economy, you'll leave the plane disappointed. Image courtesy of GelatoPlus via Getty Images.

2. Keep Things Neat and Tidy

Please, for the love of all things above and below 35,000 feet, stop making a mess! Whatever we serve you has to go back into the same place it came from and piling trash on your tray only creates more work for your crew. Yes, I know we’re getting paid, but I don’t like picking up trash and cleaning up after you any more than you do, so please, stop making a mess. I don’t want to pick up your tray and find toenail clippings, dirty diapers, sneezed-on tissues, used sanitary products or cups that you’ve spat mouthwash in — all things I’ve found more than once on trays or tray tables. Really. Just stop.

All the trash you put on your tray goes out the same way your food came in: on these space-restricted trolleys. Image courtesy of Wicki58 via Getty Images.

3. Bring Your Own Food

We, your crew, bring food for ourselves all the time and won’t fault you at all for doing the same. A delicious burger from Shake Shack in New York, fresh sushi from that little market at Amsterdam Schiphol, filling fried rice from Changi in Singapore — whatever you bring with you, it’s something you picked out and had tailored to your tastes, so of course it’s going to be better than what I have to offer you on the plane. Just tell me what the perfect drink would be to accompany your self-catered delight is, and I’ll be happy to serve it to you.

If you handle your own food, we'll be happy to take care of the drinks. Image courtesy of Hero Images via Getty Images.

4. Try New Things

We only have so many things to serve you on board, so when you turn your nose up at one of the limited items we have available, that further decreases your options and sets you up for disappointment. Why not take the opportunity to open up a little and try something new? I know, the quality won’t be the best, but just think — if you like it on a plane, imagine how much better it will be when you have it on the ground! Also, keep in mind your taste buds change drastically at altitude; you might find that something you’ve tried before and found to be distasteful on the ground is actually rather yummy up in the air, so give it a try!

You'll be much more satisfied in the long run if you don't insist on getting the exact same meal every time you fly. Image courtesy of kickimages via Getty Images.

5. Be Realistic

We will of course do whatever we can to make your in-flight culinary experience the best possible. That said, remember that we are working with limited resources. If I offer you chicken or beef, and you say. “But I’d really just like fish, or maybe some pasta,” then you’re putting me in an awkward position. We often joke among ourselves, saying, “This is a 777, not a 7-Eleven.” It's funny because it's true, yet so many passengers expect all the variety of a fully stocked convenience store. I only have so many things on board, and can only get so creative. I can’t manufacture things out of thin air. Check and recheck that your special meal was ordered directly through the airline — as opposed to through a travel agent — bring your own food if you have specific dietary needs or particular tastes and remember that your crew will do everything possible to make your experience the best it can be, but that in the end they can only do so much.

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What tips and tricks do you have for making your in-flight meal experience better? Let us know in the comments below.

Featured image by Getty Images/iStockphoto