Dining in the sky
Part of the experience of booking a private jet is what you will do onboard during the flight. Most aircraft have entertainment systems, so an inflight movie is always an option, and you may have friends and family along to keep up great conversation. But as humans, we like to eat. One thing that connects every culture is food. And when you are stuck for 2, 6, or 8 hours in a jet, you are going to want to munch on something at some point, and if you are on a multi-million dollar aircraft, shouldn’t you get the very best food possible? In this week’s blog, we look at the options you have for dining when you travel privately.
Local food is the way to go
If you have ever purchased catering for a corporate flight, or seen the bill after you land, you know that aircraft catering is expensive. Everything that goes into preparing gourmet food for a private flight adds up. With specialized containers, travel to the airport, and other considerations, it is expensive to prepare and expensive to purchase, and let’s face it, it’s not always even that good. Don’t get me wrong, a good fruit and cheese tray can be a great experience, and getting fresh Mahi Mahi out of Honolulu is worth the price, but on average, aircraft catering often does not seem to be worth the high amount that is paid. The secret is to take advantage of local fare, and look for secrets to unlock an experience worth the time and money you have put into your flight. Instead of ordering Caesar salads and a sandwich tray, try finding out what local items might appeal to you or your group and get those items delivered.
Khachapuri - a savory, chewy bread filled with bubbling cheese or egg from Georgia in Eastern Europe
Taking advantage of local fare takes some preparation and planning, but sometimes can be done on the fly as well. Your flight crew, the operations dispatch team, and your brokers are trained in the highest level of customer service. Their main and only goal is to make your flight everything it can be. Therefore, your flight crew may be perfectly willing to make a quick drive in the local FBO crew car to a local restaurant and pick up a local delicacy, delivering it back to the aircraft in time for your departure. If you have the advantage of booking a large aircraft with a flight attendant, there is no person more versed in customer service than this valuable crew member. If they are an experienced attendant, they often know just the restaurant and how to get what you’re looking for, and how to make sure it gets to the aircraft in good shape for your flight. When you arrive at your destination, check with your local contacts and find out what that region is famous for. Whatever it is, your broker should be able to find a way to make it happen, either by utilizing the crew, a local caterer, or a courier service to get it to the FBO and loaded on the aircraft. If you are traveling internationally, it is not likely that your crew will be able to get out and pick up that local dish. However, the local caterer should be able to prepare that item or retrieve it from a local restaurant. This is also a point where the flight attendant will be your biggest asset. They often arrange these items through the hotel concierge where the crew is staying and can get you the most amazing local spread. Imagine fresh hummus from Egypt, Kobi beef from Japan, Caviar from the Caspian Sea region, or Calamari from Portugal. Whatever country you land in, they are famous for something, so why not try it? Even if you land for a technical/fuel stop, you simply must pick up the local delicacy.
Canapes with Salmon and Caviar - a Specialty from Spain
The quantity of food served on private jets is often much more than on land
One word of caution, no matter what you are ordering, or what region, is to keep a close eye on what is ordered and how. It is easy to rack up a $2000 catering bill, for just 4 people for just one meal. There is a rule of thumb between flight attendants and aviation catering companies. They want to ensure that there is never an empty plate. Portions for aircraft catering are usually one and a half times what you would normally get. So if you order a cheese and fruit tray for 4, you will be getting enough for 6. I have seen plenty of flights order 3 snack trays plus entrees and salads for 4 to 6 people, and end up with enough food for 12!! If you are ordering snacks, consider if you are getting a meal as well. Keep the snacks down to cover no more than 1 serving per person of all items combined. In other words, if you get a fruit tray, a cheese and cracker tray, and a veggie tray, and you have 6 people, get each of those trays for 2 or 3 persons at the maximum. If you are also ordering an entrée, this should be perfect for everyone to sample a little of everything and still have room for a full meal. In the end, you are the judge of how much you need, as long as you remember that portions are big and prices are high. As a broker, I find it very exciting to put together a great regional catering order. I have gotten hot beef on weck sandwiches from Buffalo, Maine Lobster in Maine, clam chowder from Nantucket, rock crab from Florida, Barbeque from Houston, and in and out burgers in LA. In the end, take advantage of your broker and your flight crew. Make sure YOU don’t get taken advantage of, even on accident by getting too big an order if you are booking through a caterer, and get local fare when you can. If you have favorite cuisine that you enjoy from around the world, please feel free to comment on this blog. You may tip one of your fellow readers on to their next favorite meal. Wiener Schnitzel - Picture SourceKhachapuri - Picture SourceCanapes with Salmon and Caviar - Picture Source