Normally, you get a meal or two depending on the length of your flight. However, let's say that you also brought your own food with you (maybe a burger or ramen). Are you allowed to ask the crew to heat it up for you? If so, what's the best way to do that?
A cabin crewmember here.
The answer is: No, it is NOT allowed!
For various reasons, including:
- Security: We do not know what are you heating, is it a heat-activated bomb? is it something that might make a lot of smoke? etc.
- Health: We cannot contaminate the ovens, we know the source of the food that is provided by the airlines, we do not know the source of your food. Same ovens are used to heat the pilots' meals as well, we can't afford to have one of them having food poisoning in the middle of the flight?
The same goes for the refrigerators also.
Cabin crew do help passengers when it comes to babies' milk and so by providing hot water to heat up the bottle or a bag full of ice to cool things like medicines, but we shall never use the aircraft equipment to heat/cool any other food that is not provided by the airline.
There's a policy in the airline I work for that prohibits even the crewmembers from using the ovens/refrigerators to heat/cool their own food that they bring from outside the aircraft.
Some might say that they had a different experience and the crew helped them, yes it could happen when a crewmember decides to violate the rules to help a passenger based on his/her judgment, but that's not something to expect on every flight.
Factoids: there are various heating devices onboard airplanes, depending on the model and the airline, including Conventional ovens, steam ovens, microwave ovens, bun warmers, water heaters, steam wands, coffee makers, espresso machines, etc. Airlines and manufacturers have really taken these flying machines to the next level.
They are unable to do so.
Most aircraft don't even have microwave ovens.
Not least, because of potential effects on avionics and sensors, not to mention power surge issues.
What they use for hot meal service is elaborate ovens made to heat many meals at once, provided they are packaged a particular way from the food supplier. The oven doesn't lend itself to general use for single meals.
There is also hot water spigot service for tea, which is how they heat a baby bottle. This might help with the ramen, but will get you nowhere with microwave fare such as burgers, pizza etc.
Cold food, such as a salad or cold sandwich, is likely to be easiest to bring on a plane. Reheating something, e.g. a burger, is very unlikely.
However, there is one way you can got hot food without asking the attendant for anything special. Pick instant soup, oatmeal, or indeed ramen, that can be prepared by adding hot, not necessarily boiling, water and waiting a specified time. During hot drinks service, when they are serving coffee etc, ask for one or two cups of hot water and use that to reconstitute your food. They serve tea as a cup of hot water and a tea bag, so the cart will have it.
A few planes didn't have warming stoves or on the off chance that they did, they were stuck loaded with the dinner embeds that should have been warmed for the feast to be served inflight. Which implies there was no capacity to do as such. Likewise, if the flight is just so long, full with drink administration to do, at that point supper, at that point bar administration, at that point tidy up… .there basically isn't time as the entire thing is completely organized and planned to fit impeccably inside time boundaries.