The flight deck is where I work, but sometimes it’s also a fast‑moving diner with spectacular views. I could be supping over the snow‑covered Rockies while en route to Vancouver, or seeing flashes of lights from Japanese fishing fleets after setting course from Tokyo.
Before takeoff, separate crew meals are boarded for international and domestic flights. There are protocols for captains and first officers, such as not eating the same meal and eating at different times, to keep things safe.
Meal types boarded for aircrew are predicated on local time. A noon departure from Paris means lunch is boarded even though it’s early morning in Canada. To prevent spills, flight attendants pass drinks from outside the perimeter of the flight deck.
Special meals are boarded for crew with dietary concerns, and I have to say, they’re pretty good. If we’re patient, we can occasionally indulge in business‑class extras, including heated nuts and cheese trays. Other times, the only snack is packaged almonds, a.k.a. “pilot pellets.”
Throughout Covid‑19, our cargo flights teemed with catering, including cheese and fruit trays, but pilots had to figure out how to work the ovens and make coffee. I’m now officially “checked out” on how to operate both.
During layovers, we aircrew often find frugal dining venues – we could probably write a guidebook on budget eats. My offbeat palate picks are octopus in Greece, steak tartare in France and pork knuckles in Germany. I haven’t worked up the nerve to taste freshly skinned eels in Japan or chocolate‑covered crickets in South Korea, but I’ve eaten chewy cod tongues in Newfoundland. While I passed on the “thousand‑year egg” (preserved chicken or duck egg) in Hong Kong, I tried pigeon, which tastes like a less meaty chicken. I’d offer eatery recommendations, but I’m not allowed: Pilot picks are confidential for security reasons.