New York…There is a general consensus amongst frequent kosher flyers that the quality of kosher meals served has improved with some notable exceptions. A Business Class traveller aboard LOT Airlines, buoyed by its fleet of new Dreamliners (Boeing 787’s), said that he found the meal to be bland and not at all compatible with some of the quality meals prepared by such airline kosher caterers as Hermolis and Stogel in Europe or Borenstein in the US. One issue that has plagued the kosher caterers is the request by airlines for shelf stable or “long life meals” as opposed to the frozen meals. While the long-life meals might be suitable for carriers that infrequently receive requests for kosher, they are not a replacement for the frozen type on heavily travelled kosher routes like Poland. Airlines or their catering companies choose these meals over frozen because there are less expenses involved in the shipping and storage. They do not have to be shipped in a freezer truck or be packed in dry ice once they arrive. Nor, do they have to be kept in a freezer. Despite the urging by the kosher caterers to airlines to opt for the frozen meals, the airlines often insist on the shelf-stable meals. Since not everything can be sterilized in a shelf-stable meal, it means that the meal will not include such items as rolls, fresh fruit, omelettes, and the like.
One travel agent told Kosher Today that it was outrageous for an airline to collect a full business class fare and then to offer a shelf stable meal. “They are getting away with murder because passengers forget the experience and never bother complaining to the airlines.” The kosher caterers are also extremely unhappy since “we cannot put our best foot forward,” as one put it. Passengers used to the fresh El Al meals or the frozen Borenstein meals are often disappointed when they receive a shelf stable meal, but if they had their choice they would offer only the frozen meals which compete favorably with even the best meals served out of Israel and the US.