AirlineMeals.net Frequently Asked Questions

Can you describe AirlineMeals.net in 3 words?
"Great, but why?!?"

How did it start ?!? Why (in the world) THIS website, a website about AIRLINE FOOD ?!??
A long story...
2001: How it began
From December 1999 till June 2002 I had a girlfriend in Istanbul, Turkey. I used to fly back and forth between Amsterdam and Istanbul every six to eight weeks.
Since Turkey and Turkish food are quite different from what we’re used to here in Western Europe (i.e. Holland), I used to photograph quite a lot of everything I came across – including the food. I’m not a food fanatic, it was just to-at least-show the people at home what the great Turkish food is like. One day in 2001 my mom asked “and what do you eat on the plane, when you’re flying there?”. I just replied “I'll take a picture for you next time”.

So I did.., had my holiday, took another picture on the way back and when I came home I showed it. Everybody happy.

A week or two after that, in October 2001, there was nothing to do at work (i.e. I wasn't doing anything). I was browsing my holiday pictures when I came across this inflight meal picture. For some reason I got curious and I searched the internet, to see if more people had taken pictures of their meals... and why. I found around 20 pictures, from 6 different airlines. I saved them to my harddisk and that was that. Then I thought of putting them together on a website, so I contacted the respective photographers, to ask for permission to publish the images on my personal website. All agreed and I started building this little website, just as one of the sub-pages of my personal website.
A version of that first website can be found here - www.airlinemeals.net/museum (opens in new window)

2002-2003: How it continued
That site stayed like that till March 2002, nothing changed, no new images were added, nothing at all. Then I found it again, this almost forgotten part of my website. I thought “maybe I can do something with this” and I decided to redesign it. After that I posted a question in some rec.travel newsgroups: “if you are flying and you happen to have a camera with you, please take a picture of your meal and send it to me, I want to start a collection on my website”.
Try to imagine my surprise when I received a picture only two days later!! And another one, and another one, and another one, and another one. Etcetera...

Obviously people had started to talk about the website – not only in the newsgroups I posted in, but also in forums on other websites. One of the readers of these forums happened to be a writer for USA Today, one of the world’s largest newspapers. She said she wanted to write something about this strange new website, and if that was okay with me. Sure, why not!
Within a week after the publication in USA Today, I received e-mail from Wall Street Journal-and New York Times and Chicago Tribune a couple of days later.
And early May 2002, the phone rang at 07:00am – it was CNN, asking if they could interview me about this new website. After this broadcast on CNN (every hour, for two days during the weekend (!)), the number of visitors mulitplied rapidly, as did the number of contributions.

2004: Where are we now
Since this kickstart, the site has received numerous positive reviews from all over the world – from New Zealand to Canada, from Japan to Brazil, South Africa to Sweden, Japan to the USA-in short: anywhere but Mars.
There are over 7,000 pictures now, showing meals and full meal details from up to 350 different airlines, sent in by travellers from every corner of the world. First class meals, business class meals, economy class meals, but also crew meals, vegetarian meals, gluten free meals, children’s meals... or just a bag of peanuts.
Airlines use the site as a quality control tool – Continental Airlines, for example, used images from the site to point flight attendants to their mistakes (“the salt shaker should be right of the pepper shaker, not left”). Lufthansa print every picture + comments, to show it to the person responsible for the catering on that particular flight, and he or she cannot return the print without having signed it, which indicates they have read the traveller’s comments.

Who mentioned quality control..?.

2006: Where are we now [update]
April 18, 2006, 15:00...
Getting close to 4million visitors, over 5.5 million pageviews, 17,000 pictures, meals from more than 520 different airlines. Monthly, we receive over 300 new meal pictures.
Meanwhile, the site has been featured in the
New York Times, LA Times, TIME Magazine, CNN Business Traveler (magazine), Berliner Zeitung (German newspaper), Joong Ang Ilbo (Korean newspaper), J-Wave (Japanese Radio), and many many more.

Who are you?
An easy-going "I love life" 35-year old graphic designer / web designer from (near) Rotterdam, Holland -- born June 30, 1970.

Do you have too much time?
I wish!!! The site started when I had a regular job, so that's a Yes  ;-))
BUT now, since I'm working from home on a freelance basis, all the ti
me I have should be dedicated to my paying clients.
Of course, that does not happen, so the answer to your question is No.
Not too much time, not at all... The website gets full attention, though in every spare minute/second I have. Updating the website, checking the forum and guestbook for bad content, answering e-mails, interviews... It's hard work... poor me  ;-)

Are you crazy to run a site like this?
My psychiatrist says things are getting better.

Who serves the best meals?
Any airline with a BusinessClass / FirstClass has good stuff!
Though (judging from the images and their comments I've seen on the website) I would say airlines from Asia get the best results... Singapore Airlines, JAL Japan Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Thai Airways International, Emirates... and from my own experiences I would like to add Qatar Airways and Vietnam Airlines. They're all top notch.

Who serves the worst meals?
Who am I to say?!?
The website shows comments written by travellers, I suppose they are right!

What is your goal?
With this website? Entertaining people, and informing the airline industry about their own products.

What about the future ??
I take everything in life the way it comes... same with this website. Let's see what happens!!   ;-)