Airline Catering Key Terms

Business.com / Entrepreneurship / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Airline catering is a big business in the United States and world over. With airline travelers looking for higher quality and airlines ...

Airline catering is a big business in the United States and world over. With airline travelers looking for higher quality and airlines looking to provide consumers with that quality at a reasonable cost, airline catering companies bear the responsibility of meeting that challenge.

Because airline catering is so specific, there are a whole host of terms that relate just to that industry. Take the time to familiarize yourself with those terms so you'll know what to expect when dealing with airline catering companies for your business. Here are some of those terms along with some quality resources to help get you started.

Deep frozen meals

Deep frozen meals refer to meals that are frozen at an exceedingly low temperature in a short amount of time. This freezing process expands the types of food that can be served for airline catering and also locks in the flavor and nutritional values that were otherwise lost with other freezing methods.

Boxed meals

Boxed meals refer to meals which are served by the airline crew to the passenger in a box. They usually have several components and can be stored at room temperature. Boxed meals usually consist of fruit, packaged crackers, nuts, spreadable cheese, fruit bars and other pantry items. Boxed meals are served for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks by airline crews.

Pre-departure loading

Pre-departure loading refers to the process of stocking the airplane for catering service during the flight. Special vehicles called "high-loader" vehicles rise up to cabin level where the food and beverages are then loaded onto the plane.

RFID, radio frequency identification

RFID or radio frequency identification is a method which many airline catering services use to track the quantities of food moving between flights. Each box or container of food can be tracked by utilizing electro-magnetic waves.

Buy on board meals

Buy on board meals refer to packaged meals which are available for purchase on major airline carriers. Airline catering companies package these meals fresh and then sell them to the airline who then sells them to the passenger during the trip. Buy on board meals are typically cold meals that have a shelf life of a few days.

Beverage cart

The beverage cart refers to the cart that flight attendants move through the aisles on an airline. These carts, stocked by airline catering companies, carry everything from alcohol to mixers to juices, water and more. New beverage carts are also emerging which provide soda fountain service as well.

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