TR AV EL TRUTH
Are you allowed a second airline meal? Oliver Smith asks for more
The idea of hoarding plane food might seem ludicrous. After all, in-flight cuisine has something of a bad reputation. Why would you want to eat more of it than is necessary?
But airline meals have come a long way from the inedible gruel of yore. Thanks to food scientists and talented chefs (even Heston Blumenthal did a few shifts in the BA kitchen in 2011) it’s possible to have a perfectly satisfying supper at 35,000ft. So why stop at just one? Can passengers ask flight attendants for a second hot meal? Or a third? And what about a few more bags of nuts while you’re at it?
The answer is a resounding yes. “If a customer requests additional food, be it a bag of pretzels or an ice cream, we will try to accommodate,” said a spokeswoman for Virgin Atlantic. “And if we have some [hot meals] left at the end of service, we can offer another.”
British Airways no longer offers free meals on short-haul flights, but on long-haul routes, where food and drink is included, it has a similar policy. “In the unlikely event that a customer asks for an extra meal, our cabin crew will accommodate where possible,” the company said.
An Aeroflot spokesman said: “Requests for extra food from passengers are not turned down. Passengers who ask for an extra meal will be given one, subject to availability.”
How often will there be leftovers, then? According to frequent fliers, more often than not. Stephan Segraves, co-host of the air travel podcast Dots, Lines and Destinations, said: “When I have [asked for an extra helping] in economy, it was because I was coming straight from work, usually running late for the flight and had no time to grab something in the terminal. I would ask the crew for an extra, if they had any, when they were done with service. They were a little surprised, and one even said: ‘You sure you want seconds of this?’ – but all obliged.”
Nik Loukas, founder of the InflightFeed blog, said: “I’ve asked for seconds a few times. I know it sounds weird asking for more, but sometimes I’ve been quite hungry or the portions have been small. I politely ask the crew, and I’ve yet to be met with a ‘No’.”
So if you’re still hungry after your first meal, don’t be shy – ask for more. You may even want to pop a hot meal, or a few bags of crisps and a sandwich, in your carry-on bag for consumption later. It could save you a few quid.
There are environmental benefits, too. If passengers don’t eat all the fresh food on board, it is simply thrown in the bin. “At the end of the flight, ambient sealed items that have not been used or contaminated will be reused on another flight,” said Virgin. “Our fresh products will be thrown away as we have to be compliant with food safety regulations.”
Scooping up all those leftovers will prevent good grub, and its packaging, ending up as landfill. Plastic waste is a hot topic and the airline industry is responsible for producing more than five million tons of rubbish every year, according to the International Air Transport Association, and most of that ends up being incinerated or thrown into a very deep hole. Barely anything is recycled – so do your bit to help.