July 14, 2015

Travelers Say Kosher Airline Food Much Improved in a Growing Industry

Miami - The Halperns are one of a growing number of kosher passengers who do not join a kosher cruise but instead rely on the “airline-type” kosher meals that the cruise ship companies offer. Mrs. Halpern said that she was pleasantly surprised that the meals out of Miami more than met her expectations and she was most impressed with the knowledge of the ship’s crew on handling the kosher food. Improved education has also helped international travelers who used to return with horror stories how their kosher food was compromised by a crew who was totally ignorant of such requirements as not opening double-wrapped dishes that are heated in the aircraft’s ovens. But the travelers are also saying that the airline meals have improved, at least on major routes like Europe and Israel. With its monopoly over flights leaving JFK, Bornstein’s is part of the group of kosher caterers that has improved the quality of the foods as well as the packaging which often mystified travelers on how to open the wrapped fare. In Europe, the widely heralded UK-based Hermolis brand is receiving many accolades for its food and presentation. Another European caterer, Stogel out of Antwerp, is also credited for upgrading the kosher fare on many European routes.

Travel sources say that the airline industry is responding to a steadily rising number of kosher travelers, including many who purchase or upgrade to Business Class. Said one expert: “They can no longer be flippant about this clientele as they notice a demand for kosher on a significant portion of their flights.” On a recent American Airlines flight from Heathrow to JFK, there were 52 kosher meals ordered. Many travelers leaving Israel are extremely complimentary over the quality of the meals served on flights leaving Ben Gurion Airport. The thought of having to consume an airline meal whether on a cruise or an international flight is no longer a frightening specter. Many of the meals meet or exceed those served to ordinary passengers. Said the expert: “It isn’t as if they woke up one morning and decided that kosher passengers needed a better kosher food experience; they simply came to grips with the fact that this is a growing and significant part of their business.”  No one knows for sure what the dollar value of this business is, although the expert guessed that it was well $100 million, a figure that would explain the rapidly growing food service segment of the kosher food industry.