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How Airline Food Has Been Impacted By COVID-19

This year, the airline industry has been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s been a tough year in aviation and many things have changed. One particularly interesting change that has occurred this year is the change in the food service of airlines. Food has been a key part of the flying experience, and this article will explore the ways the novel coronavirus has impacted this experience.

Short-haul flights

On short-haul flights, most airlines are continuing their normal service with prepackaged snacks and beverages, if they were offered in the first place. Budget airlines continue to require money for these options, but some airlines may not even offer food options on these short-haul flights. Beverage options are more limited than pre-pandemic services, and instead of receiving a cup with a poured beverage, passengers receive the entire can or bottle. Some airlines may not even offer any beverage options and only have water available.

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Medium-haul flights

On medium-haul flights, airlines are providing a similar service to short-haul flights with snacks and a beverage. However, passengers on medium haul flights may receive more rounds of snacks than short-haul flights. This service is pretty standard for medium-haul flights, but it does come with the same restrictions listed above in short-haul flights. For safety reasons, many airline snack services now come in a plastic bag, containing the food item, napkins, and some form of a disinfectant such as hand sanitizer. This type of snack bag is what generally comes with airline food services during this pandemic.

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Long-haul flights

For long-haul flights, almost all airlines have removed hot meal services, or made them exclusive to premium passengers in business or first class. Most meal services for main cabin passengers in long-haul flights have unfortunately been replaced with cold meals or standard snacks and beverages, similar to those in medium and short haul flights. However, snack services on long-haul flights are usually more deluxe and have more varied options than those on short and medium haul flights. Beverage options are also more various on long-haul flights. On several airlines, even first class and premium passengers may receive snacks for food service, but with more amount and value. For first class and other premium passengers who are travelling with an airline that provides hot meals, the food they receive is not as glamorous as it used to be, and the options are fairly limited. Among airline food services amid this pandemic, hot meals should be considered a luxury service.

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Credit: Daily Mail

Overall, COVID-19 has greatly downgraded the value of airline food services during this pandemic, but in the end, it is reasonable for airlines to implement these food changes since unsanitary eating methods can increase the spread of the virus. Changes to food services should be taken seriously since they are for the safety of passengers. Some airlines are even choosing to not provide any food services on their flights for this reason. As the risk of the pandemic decreases, some airlines are already starting to resume their original services, and hopefully, in the near future, passengers can experience a full recovery of the food service of airline industries.

Here's what food and drinks the major U.S. airlines are currently serving
Credit: The Points Guy


Stawski, B. (2020, October 29). Here’s what food and drinks the major U.S. airlines are currently serving. Retrieved December 14, 2020, from https://thepointsguy.com/news/inflight-service-resuming/

Jelisa Castrodale May 20, & Castrodale, J. (2020, May 20). How Airline Food Is Changing During the Coronavirus Pandemic. Retrieved December 14, 2020, from https://www.foodandwine.com/news/airline-food-safety-measures-coronavirus

  • Cover Image is credited to Singapore Airlines

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