Airline Companies’ Solutions for Food Shortages on Long Distance International Flights

Long-distance international flights can be a challenging experience for both passengers and airline companies. One of the most critical aspects of these flights is ensuring that passengers are well-fed and hydrated throughout the journey. But what happens when an airline runs out of food on a long-distance international flight? This article explores the solutions that airline companies have in place to address food shortages on long-distance international flights.

Pre-Flight Planning

One of the primary ways airlines prevent food shortages is through meticulous pre-flight planning. Airlines calculate the amount of food required based on the number of passengers, flight duration, and the type of meals being served. They often cater for a little more than the expected number of passengers to account for any unexpected situations.

Onboard Extra Supplies

Airlines also carry extra food supplies onboard. These extra supplies are usually snacks and light meals that can be served to passengers if the main meals run out. While these may not be as substantial as the main meals, they can help keep passengers fed until the plane lands.

Meal Swapping

Another strategy airlines use is meal swapping. If the airline runs out of a particular type of meal, they can offer passengers an alternative meal. For example, if the airline runs out of chicken meals, they can offer passengers a vegetarian meal instead.

Apologies and Compensation

In the rare event that an airline completely runs out of food, they will typically apologize to the passengers and offer some form of compensation. This could be in the form of a voucher for a future flight, a refund, or airline miles.

Emergency Landings

While extremely rare, there have been instances where planes have had to make emergency landings due to food shortages. This is usually a last resort and only happens in extreme situations where the flight is significantly delayed and the food supplies have run out.


While food shortages on long-distance international flights are rare, airlines have several strategies in place to ensure passengers are well-fed throughout their journey. These strategies range from pre-flight planning and carrying extra food supplies onboard, to meal swapping and offering compensation. Despite these measures, it’s always a good idea for passengers to carry some snacks with them, just in case.