I'm flying AMS - LAX (with KLM) next month and return a month later. I was wondering which meals would be served and in what order?

Is there any logic behind it or does it depend on the choice of the carrier? One might think you'll be served the first meal in the timezone of departure and the last one in the timezone of arrival, but this can result in a double lunch or a double breakfast.

In case it might matter: We take off at 10am and land at noon and on the return flight takes off at 2pm and lands at 9am.

  • 4
    Don't you find that this question is much too specific for a given flight and on the other hand overly broad because there is a vast difference between airlines and classes ? And why did you not call KLM or visit their website ? Commented Apr 14, 2013 at 19:54
  • I added the flight info as extra information in case it was different between the carriers. It might be that all carriers on long flights use the same logic (e.g. switch to the timezone of arrival).
    – Bart
    Commented Apr 14, 2013 at 20:36
  • 4
    Usually your ticket, or itinerary, explicitly states what meals will be served. The order should be reasonably easy to deduce from the time of day. Commented Apr 14, 2013 at 22:12
  • I think there both is logic and it depends on the carrier - as well as depending on other things. Commented Oct 3, 2013 at 10:06
  • 1
    On that route KLM serves like 2-3 full meals plus number of snacks. It's way too much. Meals are rather generic, so it's hard to say if it's considered "lunch" or "diner".
    – vartec
    Commented Jun 2, 2014 at 14:38

2 Answers 2


Your best source of this information is your airline's website, even if you didn't book with them. For example, the KLM page on intercontinental meals says:

Economy Class intercontinental

On all KLM intercontinental flights, we welcome you on board with a beverage of choice. You are then served your choice of one of our two Delicious hot meals. After dinner, we offer complimentary coffee, tea or a liqueur.

On shorter flights, we serve a sandwich or other snack before landing. On longer flights, we serve a second meal and snacks such as ice cream or sandwiches.

On flights with an early morning arrival time, we serve a delicious breakfast.

Beverages We serve hot and cold drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic), including soft drinks, fruit juice, beer and wine, together with your meal. Throughout the entire flight, we offer something to drink once every hour.

A la carte menu On most KLM intercontinental flights departing from Amsterdam, you have an even larger selection of hot meals to choose from when you order an à la carte meal at KLM.com before your flight.

There are links on that page to more information.

For the more general issue of timing, it's my experience that regardless of the length of the flight or the time of day, the first meal is served as close to "immediately" as they can do. A longer flight is usually a larger plane, so "immediately" will take longer, but the process is consistently:

  • board, get everyone settled
  • announcements and safety video while still on ground, possibly taxi-ing
  • take off
  • reach height, seat belt sign off
  • small pause (10-15 min) for people to ask attendants for things, reset entertainment system, people to use the bathroom
  • up and down the aisles delivering headsets (quick because most people have headsets)
  • drink service. On a large full plane this can take over half an hour
  • pause with aisles clear again so people can go to the bathroom and ask for stuff
  • gather up garbage from drink service
  • meal service

I'll typically be offered a meal 1-2 hours after getting on the plane and I don't see how it can be any less time than that. If the flight is only four hours, there really isn't a way to do two meal services, because after the meal they need to come by and collect the garbage, then do another drink run, so they would run out of time. (The quote above is about intercontinental flights, which are probably all over 4 hours.) But on a six or eight hour flight, they can do it all again and they typically do. On a 14 hour flight LAX-SYD, United served food three times, though the middle one was just a sandwich. It's much quicker to hand somebody a wrapped item than to ask what they want, put the hot thing on a tray of prepared cold things, pass them the tray which they have to take carefully, etc. Trays also have to be collected afterwards. That said, most European carriers offer a meal service with trays even on a 90 minute flight. They do so by offering food and drinks at the same time - and with a smaller plane it doesn't take as long to "do" the whole plane. On long flights the process is a little more drawn out.

  • note they don't mention the number of meals served, as this depends on the duration of the flight, nor the actual styles as these depend on time of day and destination (e.g. on flights to Asia KLM serves different food compared to flights to the Americas or Europe).
    – jwenting
    Commented Apr 15, 2013 at 6:08
  • Great second part detailing the step by step process !
    – Bart
    Commented Apr 17, 2013 at 5:51
  • Great answer -- but for what it's worth I've been served something that looks suspiciously like breakfast as my last meal on KLM intercontinental flights even when they land in the afternoon or evening -- they just don't call it breakfast. (And normal full meals as the first meal even on an early flight).
    – SpaceDog
    Commented Oct 3, 2013 at 1:47
  • 1
    @SpaceDog I don't remember the KLM meals but note that what Dutch people typically have for lunch everyday looks suspiciously like breakfast anyway ;-)
    – Relaxed
    Commented Oct 3, 2013 at 8:58
  • @Annoyed that depends on what you call breakfast. But yes, the typical Dutch lunch is almost identical to the typical Dutch breakfast (a few sandwiches with something to drink, usually coffee, tea, or milk).
    – jwenting
    Commented Oct 3, 2013 at 9:13

Typically, long-haul flights will have two or even three meals, possibly with snacks, although this of course depends on the airline and which cabin class. On a multi-meal flight, usually the first meal is the main one (larger and with more choices), and is usually started around one hour after take-off, with a smaller and lighter meal typically around two hours before landing.

Airlines will often match the meal to the departure and arrival time, but not always. For example, American Airlines flights from LAX to LHR leave around dinner time and arrive around lunch time, so the first meal is dinner and the second is a light lunch. The reverse flights usually leave around lunch time and land mid-afternoon, so the main meal is lunch and the second a light "refreshment" (they don't want to call it a second lunch). But American's flights from Beijing to Chicago, which depart early in the morning, have lunch as their main meal after take-off, and a light refreshment before arrival.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .