You've been flying for ten hours and you are bored and hungry. You're stoked when you notice the flight crew getting the service carts ready to serve a meal. Finally. Better yet, since you're vegetarian they bring you your food first. You eagerly tear off the tin foil and are greeted by something tan and pureed. Beside it are some wilted spinach leaves. And these aren't the good old days where you got the full can of your beverage of choice. Instead you get a small glass filled mostly with ice. Your neighbor's "regular" food doesn't look much better, but at least he gets a bread roll. You're filled with jealousy and what's even worse is that he doesn't even eat it. You think about asking him for it before the trays get picked up, but no--that's too desperate.
While I admit that the above story contains some hyperbole, it's often not far from the truth as you other frequent flyers know. I can't tell you how many times I've been tempted to ask people for tasty looking un-eaten morsels from their trays when my faire has been particularly poor. Don't pretend like you haven't thought about it too. And being vegetarian often yields an especially strange tray as airline caterers don't seem to have a clue what that means (no offense if you're reading this and you're an airline caterer). I'm not vegan so I always mark that I'm a lacto-ovo vegetarian and yet I can't tell you how many times my non-veggie neighbors have gotten scrambled eggs and yogurt for breakfast while I've been stuck with overcooked greens and tomatoes. I like vegetables but that's not all vegetarians eat! When I lived in Papua New Guinea we always flew on an airline called Air Niugini, that rain or shine would serve us a plate of pickled zucchini, eggplant, and carrots. Fortunately I love pickled stuff, but it was kind of crazy that even after three years the menu hadn't changed. To be fair, not all airlines fail in the food department. I've been served some downright delicious meals. My earliest memory of tasty airline fare was being served hot buttery rolls and chocolate on Swiss Air, en-route to Africa. I can't speak to whether or not their food is as good as it used to be as it's been a long time since I've flown with them, but I can say that food on Quantas is the bomb after many a trip to Australia. We're talking about things like nice cereals and fruits for breakfast, and post dinner ice-cream bars. They even provide unlimited snacks in-between meals.
Whether or not the food is bad or good I'm just glad that airlines actually feed you. It would be easy to decide that in regards to the need for cost restrictions, passengers must bring their own food for long flights. If that were the case I can guarantee you that I wouldn't be bringing containers of scrambled eggs and yogurt in a cooler. It would be more like dry peanut butter and marmalade sandwiches with a few juice boxes. So really, who am I to complain about airline food? Unless I want to start my own airline catering company, I think my best approach to their food is to enjoy the good times, laugh off the bad times, and fly Quantas whenever possible.