The Importance of Aircraft Galleys

When travelling long distances by aircraft, it is only a matter of time before you start wondering when the familiar airline galley cart will roll down the aisles to provide food and drinks. While your stomach may be happy enough once it has received food, your mind still may be wondering where and how all the food and drinks for an entire passenger flight are kept in such a small aircraft, and how it is all prepared and delivered to passengers. The aircraft galley and galley cart help the crew store, prepare, and provide nourishment for passengers, and their capabilities and efficiency are constantly changing and improving with the advent of newer technologies. In this blog, we will discuss the galley and carts of commercial aviation.

The galley of an aircraft is a compartment where food is stored, prepared, and placed in the cart to deliver to passengers. As compared to other types of galleys, such as those on ships, the aircraft galley may also contain features and systems for crew member use, such as jumpseats. Due to their operation at high elevation and within confined spaces, galleys utilize different technologies such as non-combustible tools and devices. The aircraft galley first debuted in 1937 with a one being featured on the United Airlines DC-3 that had space for food preparation and water heater systems for hot beverages. While there was no procedure or appliance to heat up meals, this system was much more convenient than simply serving passengers cold fried chicken as airlines had done before. By the late 1950’s, toaster ovens were being installed into aircraft galleys to provide the ability of heating up pre-made food, drastically changing how people viewed airline meals. With more abilities to provide better food and increasing plane capacity resulting in more people to feed, airlines had to quickly come up with a more efficient way to serve everyone.

The answer that airliners came up with came in the form of the airline galley cart, otherwise known as an airline service trolley. Entering service in the 1960’s, aircraft galley cart parts included cooling and heating systems, a distribution panel, and locking wheels. While not seemingly impressive in our modern times, these carts allowed crew members to safely and easily distribute food and drinks to a great amount of passengers without having to move back and forth from the aisle to the galley. Later in 2009, water heater technology for vacuumed sealed food came in the form of water baths, which helped make preparing food for flights much easier, causing airlines across the board to quickly adopt the technology.

With a diverse and interconnected world, airlines strive to accommodate meal restrictions and practices of passengers. If a passenger has dietary restrictions or follows a specific religious practice, special meals will be prepared to meet needs and will often be ordered anywhere from 24 hours prior to a flight to when the passenger first orders their ticket. Depending on the airline, different standard meals may be offered, and charges may vary as well. For longer flights, many airlines offer free meals, though low-cost airlines may charge, The state of the economy and an airline’s own financial well being may also affect their charge on meals.


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