July 24, 2018

Rising Complaints Over Quality of Airline Kosher Meals

New York…Gabi Friedlander, an aide to City Councilman Brad Lander, is only one of many kosher airline travelers who have a beef with major international airlines. Travelling on LOT Polish Airlines from New York’s JFK International Airport to Budapest, “I was served only OU frozen food (not only main dish).” Mrs. Friedlander noted that it was the same food on all classes including Business Class and that the food on the return flight “was really bad – “canned airplane food. Travel agents and other travel experts agree that the poor quality of the food of late is the subject of many complaints by travelers.” Perri Spiegel, General Manager of Stogel Kosher Catering, based in Antwerp, explains:

“We offer two kinds of menus:  frozen, which is served on Delta, United, Brussels, Jet, out of Europe, just to name a few of our customers.  We receive great letters and reviews about these meals. They are tasty, and very presentable.  As a matter of fact, they are much better than the meals served out of the States. The other type of meal we offer is the long life, or shelf stable meal.  This is already going into a different category.  Although the meals are really cooked the same way, the sterilizing process does change the taste and look of the meal.  The reason an airline company or airline catering company would choose this meal over frozen is because there is less expense involved in the shipping and storage.  They do not have to be shipped in a freezer truck or dry ice and once they arrive, they don’t have to be kept in a freezer, obviously, lowering the expenses.  When I get an order for these meals from a new customer, I try to steer them to our frozen meals.  They don’t always listen, to my dismay.”

Ms. Spiegel told Kosher Today that the company was taking many steps to upgrade the meals and the presentation despite the disadvantages the company faces from limitations imposed by airlines. “I have also just invested in a very expensive packaging machine which we will be using a sort of plastic dish instead of the aluminium that we are currently using because I feel that plastic will not only present the meal better, but there will be no aluminium odor or after-taste.” Travel agents are surprised that airlines like LOT do not receive more complaints even as they are increasingly carrying more kosher passengers.