I need to know what time into my flight dinner will be served. Should I eat dinner before boarding my flight?

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    Note: it is difficult to know. Do you already known if your flight will depart on-time? That there are no turbulence? In which class are you sitting? My personal opinion: eat at airport and sleep on plane (it will help for jet lag, and food is usually better at airport). -- On last few weeks is departed few time after 10pm (and also after 12) Commented Sep 13, 2022 at 14:19
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    It's always wise to eat before your flight as you can't guarantee when (or even if) you'll get food at a reasonable time. If you can it might also be worth taking snacks onto the flight so that you've got something if a meal doesn't arrive soon enough.
    – Midavalo
    Commented Sep 13, 2022 at 15:23
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    Overnight flights leaving at those times usually have dinner served quite quickly after departure so people can go to sleep quickly afterwards. On flights departing closer to midnight I would definitely eat at the airport before and skip the in-flight dinner. With that kind of departure time, that really depends on your habits and on the options available at DEN. Plan enough time for dinner though, you don’t want to be in a rush because the kitchen is slow or too busy.
    – jcaron
    Commented Sep 13, 2022 at 16:06
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    If you want to eat early, order a special meal, they serve those first (at least on some airlines) Commented Sep 13, 2022 at 23:34
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    If you need to know for example because you are diabetic -- as I am -- then you absolutely must not rely on the airline. Make sure you have your own meals packed and ready. Salads are immensely helpful here.
    – user4188
    Commented Sep 14, 2022 at 1:55

3 Answers 3


Almost all flight crews try to get the main service going as soon as it's practical. That's even more so on a red eye flight so passengers can get a maximum of uninterrupted sleep time in.

Unless there there is unusual turbulence or weather, dinner service should start 30 to 60 minutes after take off. Some airlines run a pre-dinner drink service first, but I don't think United is doing this at the moment.


It varies per individual flight, but in general it will be as soon as practical for an overnight flight, especially one which departs that late, within a few common constraints:

  • The initial ascent out of the airport needs to be complete (this may or may not mean cruising altitude depending on the flight). This is mostly because there can be a handful of things that the flight attendants need to deal with during the initial ascent.
  • There needs to be little to no turbulence.
  • There needs to be nothing else going on that requires the flight crew's attention (sounds obvious, but I have been on a flight where the initial meal service was delayed due to the flight attendants having to deal with a couple of unruly passengers).
  • There needs to be enough time for the meals to actually heat up.

I’ve not personally flown on UA 760, but for all the transatlantic flights I’ve been on, the meal service typically started within 30-60 minutes of takeoff. The only exceptions for me have been the above mentioned flight where it was delayed, and one a flight that left at about 15:00 local time (almost exactly between 'normal' meal times for the locale), where it was served closer to two hours in to the flight.

If you are particularly worried though, I would suggest planning to eat at the airport if possible, and just skip the dinner service on the plane. Alternatively, you may be able to get served on the plane a bit earlier if you select one of the non-standard meal options, though I’m not sure if United specifically does this.

  • 1
    Alternatively, you may be able to get served on the plane a bit earlier if you select one of the non-standard meal options, though I’m not sure if United specifically does this. United tends to serve special meals first. In economy this can be much earlier than the main service, sometimes around an hour depending where you're sitting.
    – MJeffryes
    Commented Sep 14, 2022 at 16:17
  • In my experience BA and Air Canada also do this. It makes sense because you don't want people who've booked a special meal taking one of the regular meals that should be for another passenger. Commented Sep 14, 2022 at 19:55
  • As someone who normally orders a vegetarian meal, I have literally always been served first (except for once when the airline managed to forget my meal!).
    – Kevin
    Commented Sep 14, 2022 at 20:38

I have taken multiple evening flights and service is always shortly after departure, as soon as the plane settles to cruising mode and the crew can get the ovens going.

By personal preference, I would always eat at the airport rather than take a late meal. For one, eating (basically) microwave food in an airplane seat, oftentimes next to a stranger, is not something I crave. (If you have an aisle seat you have the added bonus of people constantly walking or bumping into you). For another, I find I get better quality and selection at the airport, I can usually find more pleasant seating arrangements, and I can usually go to the washrooms without queuing. Finally, the reason I chose these flights is to get some rest at normal sleep times so I use this time to put the music through the headphones and relax.

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