- Preparation is vital when organizing catering for a private jet flight.
- Storage space and equipment on the aircraft must be considered.
- Working with a private aviation catering company is preferred over hotels or restaurants for several reasons.
Of course, safety is the number one priority for any flight attendant. But when working on a private jet, the inflight service has to be exemplary. Whereas in commercial flying, the inflight meals are all premade and preloaded onto the aircraft, the flight attendant has to arrange everything on a business aircraft. Let’s take a look at the complexities of organizing catering.
All in the preparation
Even before boarding the jet, preparation beforehand is critical. The first thing you have to look at is the time of the flight and the length of the flight. Would lunch be sufficient, or would the guests also require dinner? Snacks may need to be added. Think about how many choices to offer for each meal and how many courses to serve. Is it practical within the flight time? Meals for the crew also need to be factored in.
Storage space and equipment
You have to think about the aircraft type and how much storage space there is. On a Citation X, for example, there is only a tiny galley (kitchen area) and very limited space for food storage.
Photo: Trans-Exec Private Jets
Some aircraft have chillers and ovens; some may just have a microwave or no method to heat food at all. Larger types like the Global Express or Gulfstream G550 have more galley space and an oven, microwave, chiller, and ice draws, so there is ample space to store the catering.
There might be cultural aspects to consider, too; for example, in the Middle East, you often have to request halal food and no pork or alcohol to be used. The passenger profile should also be checked, as you can find their preferences there and if they have any allergies or items they do not eat. Once you have all this information, you can start to plan a menu. The flight attendant must find a source for their catering, be it a private aviation catering company, hotel, or restaurant.
When writing a catering order, you must be very specific and detailed. If you order a lemon, you have to state how it should be. Is it sliced or in wedges? You should also note sizes for juices and milk, 500ml or one liter. You must work out portion sizes and request how many for each item.
Is the fruit basket to be made up and ready to eat? Flight attendants must state the cooking methods for each item and may ask for dressings and sauces to be packed separately. Fresh ice will be ordered in bags per kilo, and dry ice may be needed, but this is limited due to dangerous goods rules.
Catering company vs. hotel
Using a private jet catering company is often preferable, as they understand our onboard limitations. They also know what we mean by different foil sizes and serving sizes and what will fit in a trolley or oven, for example.
Photo: Private Aviation Catering, Munich
In hotels and restaurants, it’s more complicated as they do not understand these things. Ordering from them is also more risky in terms of food hygiene as it usually cannot be transported at the correct temperature to the aircraft.
Once the catering order is complete, you have to wait for a quote and confirmation. There may be clarifications to be made with the caterer if the order is not detailed enough. Items might have to be added or removed; it is an ongoing process that can take hours, depending on the country/company. It is essential to bear in mind that some caterers need 24 hours’ notice, and sometimes, if the flight is canceled, the catering still has to be paid for.
For a flight attendant working onboard a private jet, the catering order is one of the most important and complex tasks before the flight. Without the correct catering, or even worse, no catering, you risk disappointing your VIP guests, who deserve the very best. It’s a lengthy task, but for a professional private jet flight attendant, it is an all-important one.