In-flight meals for all to see
HONG KONG (CNN) -- Airline passengers who've had an in-flight meal can now express their satisfaction or disgust to a global audience, courtesy of an online gallery that shows just what people have been eating at 30,000 feet.
Passengers from all over the world are taking pictures of their food and submitting them to airlinemeals.net, which bills itself as "The world's first site dedicated to nothing but airline food."
"These pictures clearly show you get what you pay for," said Webmaster Marco Hart.
Some of the meals are clearly identifiable -- fresh fruit for breakfast on Cathay Pacific, for example, or a ham sandwich and M&Ms aboard United. But other tray table treats leave much to the imagination.
"When I see some meals from domestic flights in Asia, sometimes I get scared [of] what I see," Hart said.
Among the items on the site's menu are strange-colored food from an All Nippon Airways flight and a breakfast from Bhutan's Drukair that appears bland, colorless and quite high in fat.
On long flights, passengers may be sitting in the air for the better part of a day. So will some of the food they consume: It's difficult to control what happens to a meal once it leaves a catering facility on the ground, said Gebi Scherrer, who managed food for airlines for more than 10 years. Eventually, it must be reheated in the air, and that can lead to problems.
"Either it's overheated -- burned -- or it's cold," Scherrer said.
When the jet age was in its infancy, airlines couldn't offer passengers much in terms of in-flight service -- so the food, at least, had to be good.
"Today you have the TV in front of you," Scherrer said. "There's movies and so on."
To be fair, Hart also displays the airlines' corporate pictures of in-flight food, "i.e., what it should be," Hart writes. Grouped in a separate section, these meals are well-lit, neatly arranged and pleasant overall. Air India's submission even shows flight attendants serving food from a small buffet table to smiling passengers.
Hart said the airlines scrambled to showcase their finest fare.
"They said, 'Oh, the pictures you have ... they don't look very good or they look outdated and we want to contribute new photos,'" he said.
But the corporate pics may not participate in Hart's "meal of the week" poll, where site visitors can rate the most appetizing food from among passengers' entries. Check them out at airlinemeals.net, if you dare.
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