Food & Drink | August 28, 2021 3:17 pm

How Did the Pandemic Change Dining on Flights?

Pauses in alcohol service are just one part

Airplane seats
The pandemic has changed air travel in a lot of ways.
Cathal Mac an Bheatha/Unsplash

The pandemic has had a number of effects on transportation systems in the United States and overseas, and the CDC’s mask mandate for public transportation here is only the most noticeable change afoot. Some airlines have reduced or removed their alcohol service due to unruly behavior from passengers. Others have required medical-grade masks to be worn on flights.

Another change has emerged when it comes to in-flight dining — or rather, a series of changes have emerged. If your last time flying was before the pandemic, your mealtime experience might be a little different the next time you’re in the air.

At the Los Angeles Times, Hugo Martín charted out the changes air travelers can expect. Among the differences from 2019 and before: while higher-end menu options are returning to first- and business-class cabins, the methods by which they’re brought to your seat are a little different. As detailed in the article, many airlines are opting to bring out the whole meal at once rather than in stages so as to reduce the number of interactions between the flight crew and the passengers.

Beverage service has also seen some alterations in the last year and a half — including passengers getting full cans or bottles rather than having a cup poured for them.

It’s an understandable series of changes, though it still provides a challenge for many flight attendants, who have to enforce the guidelines that passengers’ masks can only be removed when eating or drinking. With that, there’s one more logistical challenge in an industry abounding with them.