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飛機餐 (Airline Meals)
An airline meal or in-flight meal is a meal served to passengers on board a commercial airliner. These meals are prepared by airline catering services. The first kitchens preparing meals in-flight were established by United Airlines in 1936. Meals vary widely in quality and quantity across different airline companies and travel classes. They range from a simple beverage in short-haul economy class to a seven-course meal in long-haul first class.
The type of food varies depending upon the airline company and class of travel. Meals may be served on one tray or in multiple courses with no tray and with a tablecloth, metal cutlery, and glassware (generally in first or business classes). The airline dinner typically includes meat (most commonly chicken or beef) or fish, a salad or vegetable, a small bread roll, and a dessert.
Food on board the flight ranges in price from free (typically on full-service
European and Asian airlines, and on almost all long distance flights) to as much as ten dollars on low-cost airlines. Quality may also fluctuate due to shifts in the economics of the airline industry, with private jet passengers receiving the equivalent of five-star food service.
On the longest flights in first class and business class, most Asian and European airlines serve multicourse gourmet meals, while airlines based in the US tend to serve
large, hearty, meals including a salad, steak or chicken, potatoes, and ice cream. Some long-haul flights in first and business class offer such delicacies as caviar, champagne, and sorbet. The cost and availability of meals on US
airlines has changed considerably in recent years, as financial pressures have inspired some airlines to either begin charging for meals or abandon them altogether in favor of small snacks (Southwest Airlines). Eliminating free pretzels saved Northwest $2 million annually. The carrier lost nearly $3.3 billion since 2001. Air China has reported that each domestic flight's meal requires RMB50 (US$7.3) while international flights require RMB70 (US$10).
However, this figure varies from airline to airline, as some have reported costs to be as low as US$3.5. Air China is also minimizing costs by loading only 95% of all meals to reduce leftovers and storing non-perishable foods for emergencies.
Meals must generally be frozen and heated on the ground before takeoff, rather than prepared fresh.