Kosher Meals Are Starting To Make A Comeback On Domestic Flights

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Kosher meals, or KSML in airline speak, can be a hit or miss, though the latter is more common. In this post I wrote about some of the best and worst that I’ve received.

Hermolis out of London is famous for their very good kosher meals, though reports are they have been slipping of late. This salmon meal from Oahu Kosher that we had in United business class from Honolulu to Newark last February was outstanding:

Kosher meals need to be ordered 24 or 48 hours in advance and you should never rely on an online request or a request from a codeshare airline, you should always call the airline that you’re flying with to confirm a kosher meal request. It’s also a good idea to remind flight attendants to warm up the meal in the double wrapping and to serve it double wrapped. I’ve been served meals where the food has been opened and it’s worthless in those cases.

All El Al food is certified kosher when made, but unfortunately the ovens onboard are not certified kosher and flight attendants have been knows to heat up their own non-kosher food in the ovens. That’s why the OU recommends ordering Mehadrin kosher meals on El Al.

On long-haul flights I often bring my own double-wrapped meal (Nicknamed BYOK, as in, Bring Your Own Kosher meal) and ask the flight attendant if they can heat it up. I’ve only been refused on Cathay Pacific and just showing a flight attendant a bad kosher meal is usually enough in case they are on the fence. Often times the airlines forget to load your kosher meal and that’s a good enough reason for them to warm your own meal up and for some compensation afterward.

 

I remember getting kosher meals in coach as a kid. Over the years those meals retreated and airlines stopped offering them on most domestic flights, even in first class.

For example United only offered kosher meals in first class on flights between Newark and Los Angeles or San Francisco.

That’s why I was pleasantly surprised this week when I logged onto United.com and noticed that it said they now offered kosher meals in premium classes on flights of 2,000 or more miles within North America.

The phone agent was dubious a kosher meal would show up on the flight. I’m currently on a flight from Cleveland to San Francisco and the flight attendant came over to me and asked incredulously how I was able to get a kosher meal on the route. She couldn’t recall the last time that she served a kosher meal.

The meal was from Borenstein/Regal and it was actually pretty decent. Mezonos bagel with cream cheese, a danish, and the best hot breakfast dish on an airplane, cheese blintzes.

 

I checked American’s website, and sure enough they have expanded kosher meal availability as well.

Delta made headlines for adding meals on select coach routes, though people are reporting that kosher meals on those routes consist of anything from a solitary banana to a bagged pastry.

Will real kosher meals be coming back to domestic coach flights next?

At any rate, here is the current list of routes where North American carriers offer kosher meals.

Air Canada:

  • Available in all classes on international flights that depart or arrive outside of North/Central America.
  • Available in first/business class on all routes.

American:

  • Available in all classes on international flights across the Atlantic or Pacific.
  • Available in all classes on international flights to/from Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, and the following Brazilian cities: Belo Horizonte, Brasilia, Rio de Janeiro, and Sao Paulo.
  • Available in first/business class on flights within North America on flights that are 2,200+ miles and depart before 9pm. Kosher meals are not available from Anchorage, Kauai, and Kona.

Delta:
-Available in all classes on international flights across the Atlantic or Pacific.
-Available in all classes on flights to/from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Peru.
-Available in first/business class for domestic flights that are at least 900 miles long that depart between 5am-1:30pm and 4pm-8pm.
-Available in first/business class for domestic flights that are at least 1,400 miles long that depart between 5am-8pm.
-Available in first/business class on all flights to/from JFK and Los Angeles.
-Available in first/business class on all flights to/from JFK and San Francisco.
-A kosher snack can be reserved in coach on flights between JFK-Los Angeles, JFK-Portland, JFK-San Diego, JFK-San Francisco, JFK-Seattle, Boston-Los Angeles, Boston-San Francisco, Boston-Seattle, Seattle-Fort Lauderdale, Seattle-Orlando, Seattle-Raleigh/Durham, and Washington DC-Los Angeles.

JetBlue:
-Available in Mint class on all routes. Menu can be viewed here.

United:
-Available in all classes on international flights across the Atlantic or Pacific.
-Available in all classes on flights to/from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Peru.
-Available in first/business class on flights within North America that are 2,000+ miles.

What was your best or worst kosher meal? Do you ever use my BYOK strategy? Hit the comments!

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76 Comments On "Kosher Meals Are Starting To Make A Comeback On Domestic Flights"

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Sho

Man, just booked jfk->lax in jet blue. Guess I won’t get it.

JB

In Mint?

josh

flew delta a few times in the past month and the kosher “meal” consisted of a fruit cup and a cookie of some sorts..better then nothing

Barry Graham

When I fly Delta, my kosher meal is a proper meal. Don’t know why this isn’t the case for you. In fact they are the only airline that didn’t stop serving kosher meals on most domestic flights although it seems from the posts here that both American and United have resumed offering them.

Neil

Worst kosher airline meal I ever got was not on an airline. Went to a fancy wedding non-kosher wedding at a swanky club in Roslyn, NY and they served my wife and I frozen airline KSML which were still somewhat icy. Can’t remember the name of the airline caterer but I guess its not their fault that the fish still had ice on it.

A

Best KSML are out of South Africa.

Bunim1

Dan I’m traveling coach JFK – LAX & LAX – JFK in coach on Delta and there is supposedly a kosher meal option.

Delta & Coach. One is on 767 and one is on 757

JS

I fly the delta routes in economy often and the sandwich is usually some hideous concoction of tuna on a challah roll from Borenstein with a desert cookie. The lunch hours are the flight fuel bags that contain and apple and banana. Please please please people don’t say they are Anti Semites by giving you a flight fuel bag!!!

Paul Greenberg

Best Kosher meal I ever got was in first class of Air Newzeland from LA to London (a mileage upgrade). They served a 4 course meal on china plates, Silver cutlery along with 2 bottles of excellent kosher wine (red and white). This came from Hermoles. Admittedly, it was pre 9/11 so that probably meant the end of Silver knives!). That was one flight that I wanted to never end!

anonymous

if i am bringing a kosher meal to be warmed up.
it has to be oven ready? or microwave ready? or either or works?

Eli

I flew Azerbaijan air from jfk to Azerbaijan had a stop there for two hours and then to Isreal, did the same thing on the way back from Israel the food flying there and back was the same and was AWFUL! did not like it at all!

Susan

I did that route too, the food was unrecognizable, It smelled awful. I asked them to please take it away.

Evelyn

We usually bring a tuna or Deli sandwich wit nosh when flying to Canada or have a long trip. I remember the days flying to Florida with the kids and we got kosher meals, no problem.

Levi B

Best airline meal i ever had was also form Oahu Kosher. was also happy to find that i can order food from them while on vacation there too!

Neil

Best KSML was on Tower in the late 80s when I got bumped up to business class. Can’t remember what the meal was but I got to sit in front of and talk to the late R’ Meir Kahane ztl. Made the gourmet food that much better.

Work-for-ur-muny

Food on Tower Air???
There’s the famous story of this guy who wanted to commit suicide so he lied down on the runway in front of a Tower Air plane. He died.

..of hunger!

Neil

Maybe its because I was in my teens, but I remember the food being excellent and served with linens and fancy silver

Rivkah

Worst meal ever KLM from JFK stop in Amsterdam to TLV. Looked and tasted like dog food.
Best, business class from Heathrow to JFK on British Airways

Mickey

Air France from Paris served fresh kosher meals, never frozen.

Judah

FYI there is no such thing as a mezonos roll

Etika

There is if it is,made with fruit juice:-)

GH

Recently flew delta, got a challah w/chopped liver and a cookie in one direction. The other direction: an unripe banana and an apple. What a meal!

Cc

How’s the meals jfk-tlv on delta coach ?

Kosher meals are just plain horrible 90% of the times . I’ve eaten meals on delta , AA, united , mint and most of time iOS a dried out piece of chicken or a plain no taste omlet. The best meal I got in last 3 years was a deli Sandwich with turkey and salami on delta on a Chala roll. One thing I’ll give them props for is the presentation has gotten a lot better, now I get silverware and dishes. LOT waw-jfk couldn’t even open up the meal the smell was that bad!

Moardie

I booked tickets to San Diego Delta with my Companion pass, and I had the option online to choose a kosher meal. I had no idea flights from New York to San Diego included meal service.

Dovid kay

Speaking of meals..
I once brought a tuna and a roll to make a sandwich with me and it was taken away by the TSA agent saying the tuna had to much mayonnaise and is considered a liquid

Neil

Had that happen once with a chobani, but never with sandwiches.

Sara

Flying back to Israel after Pesach we had Kosher L’Pesach food: Gefilte fish in tomato sauce with carrots, and Pesach sponge cake.

Work-for-ur-muny

Of course they can now serve kosher meals on these flights. Just one look at the meals says that they were saving it up for all these years! Now they have enough to serve…

Felise

Yes it’s true and what a pleasant surprise!!!! Newark to las Vegas with united.

JJ

Anybody experience DeltaOne NYC-Europe?

Paul

Best KSML I had was a fresh never frozen meal on Lufthansa from Frankfurt to BOS. Deli sandwich, potato salad and corn salad as sides with a hot mushroom knish.
Worst was definitely on Ukraine Airlines out of Kyiv (meal was from Israel) to Heathrow.

Berry

Worst – United Tokyo to Newark in November, Completely frozen meal (all parts) with Matza left over from previous Pessach.

Philippe

You are lucky in US! Except Hermolis, most of the kosher providers in Europe are not at this lecel of freshness and quality.

For you to know on Air France you can get KSML for flights more than 2:20 hours in any classe

Menachem

Why do the airlines feel they can get away with garbage meals for kosher consumers ? Even Elal Mehadrin meals are often sub-par and certainly don’t measure up to the non-Mehadrin, but why ?
Don’t the airlines realize we kosher and Mehadrin orthodox are quite a large clientele and a good customer base ? I see 1st class and business class often occupied by well-heeled and rich orthodox Jews, so why don’t the airlines take notice and service us with some decent food ?
Specifically on certain routed like NYC-TLV or NYC-LAX don’t the airlines realize a decent % of seats in all classes are occupied by religious Jews ? I for one don’t want to schlep food and would travel with the airlines that provides decent food …

Jay

I have a friend in the food biz and he says that kosher airline meals get all nutrition and bacteria removed so that the are shelf stable for years and wont get people sick. That’s also why they taste awful.
He tried to bring Hermolis from London to NY area airports as they are by far the best tasting airline meals but unfortunately they are not FDA approved.

Yitzie

UNITED Also available on P.S. Flights to sfo and lax in J.
However UA Kosher mean is probably the worst in the industry . Not always edible , sometimes expired, sometimes rolls are hard as a rock.

Baruch

Hi Dan,

Thanks for this great article, can you please provide a link or source that ou recommends ordering mehadrin on el al flights.
Thanks in advance
Baruch

Shofar

I just flew pdx to Newark first class and had a delicious kosher meal

Skippy

Ban white flour white sugar rolls cakes on kosher meal. Stop poising us , give us protein and steamed veggies , quinoa wild rice w mushroom, whole wheat pasta
We want healthy! Who is joining me?

J

Upper class, virgin Atlantic… beef Wellington – like dish from Hermolis… very good

Pinny

I just flew from Heathrow to MIA on AA 57 in business 2 days ago . KSML from Hermoulis was awesome. fresh and tasty. flight attendants tried to please in almost every-way possible. Highly recommend

Daniel

Hello!
Do you know what hashgacha is Jet blue’s kosher meal? I want to find out about Yoshon and Beit Yosef meat
Thank you

CB

If only they knew how to prepare it. Just flew back on a United red eye from LA and the meal was served frozen.

Rix

Just flew Iberia from Israel to Madrid in Business class. The meal was a wet roll, a piece of cake, some butter, honey and a plate with some fruit in it. The caterer was MOLLY something.

Philly nstive

In 1989, I flew for work and ordered a kosher dinner. I had a nice, filling, hot chicken dinner and my non-Jewish coworkers on the trip hated their skimpy, bland nonkosher food. About a year later, about ten of us flew on American from Raleigh to Orlando (2 hours) to a conference, and several coworkers brought family. After we boarded, flight attendant got on the intercom, she asked “Will the passenger who ordered a kosher dinner please raise your hand?” All ten raised hands, as did the ten more family members, a big group of us and everybody was laughing because I was the only Jew. It was a practical joke, but we all had wonderful meals.
Ahh, the good old days.

C

Virgin America would not serve kosher meals on their JFK to LAS flights, and I assume anywhere they fly.
No reason given, they just would not, without any explanation.
I both called and wrote them 3 or 4 times to no avail.
Until recently they were the only airline that had a decent seat.

Lee Diamond

All El Al meals are kosher as are the ovens.

JC

JetBlue Mint Kosher meal on red eye flights are extremely disappointing. Red eye mint flights serve non warmed meals, but the kosher meal (which looked delicious) is loaded frozen so the flight attendents werent able to heat the ovens and defrost my meal fast enough (on an otherwise short 5 hr red eye flight where I valued an hour of sleep more than waiting for it to defrost and taste what could have been a great meal). Jetblue mosaic line had no clue about the disconnect between red eye meals being served cold and the need to defrost kosher meals. They compensated me with a $100 travel bank credit

dar

Turkish air JFK to TA just switched to Weiss (bklyn) on jfk-istanbul leg. The food was sub-standard that people begged food from neighbors, leaving the meals untouched. .I didnt want to complain to Tukish without giving “weiss” a chance, but contact led to a dead end. Any suggestions?
BTW Kosher food out of Turkey is delicious ,filling, nicely presented

BrachaB

Best meal I ever got was the kiddy meal on ElAl 🙂 I got chicken nuggets and french fries and everyone else got nasty hash browns and stir fry.

Bwi

How are Air Canada meals on the YYZ/TLV route?

Andy

Hi
Flew thanks to you Aireuropa’s
Ty again
Kosher meal from Spain to America with meal made in France are you familiar with this caterer
Rabbi Charbit. France

RC

Just got off a Delta flight from BDL to MSP got a kosher meal… Didn’t believe it would be there, but was actually decent…from Borenstein

benjamin gifter

I always bring my own but even when airline meals are provided, they are not much to speak of. American and Jet Blue are the worst….no Kosher meal service at all when I have flown with them.

Charles Kuttner

Southwest has a “tapas” snack box for sale, pretty good, and kosher. $6, if I recall correctly.

Sammy G

Best Non ElAl Kosher meal I got was from JFK to AMS on KLM in Economy. From JFK meal was provided by Weiss Kosher Cuisine, and it was much better than the Borenstein meals I’ve gotten on Delta flights in First class. This meal was better balanced than the Borenstein meals, and actually included some semi real veggies. On the way back the meal was catered and certified by the Baadatz Rabbis of Amsterdam, and was served on KLM logo driven tray, all came to me wrapped up, I really felt like I was eating like everyone else. Much tastier than any of the US caterers, and the meal had legit vegetables, protein, and a carb. My big issue with the meals I’ve gotten from Borenstein on Delta in 1st class is that the meals are very carb heavy, and not healthy carbs like veggies. (Literally 2 string beans.)

I will add that I flew on ElAl as well from AMS to TLV, and the ElAl food was much better than I remember from several years ago. (I do not order a Mehadrin meal) I was in Economy on the way there and Business on the way back. Both meals were tasty and filling, and well balanced. I did a “Bid to Upgrade” and having breakfast in Business was quite the treat. I will say that I had seen the FA’s on ElAL serve Mehadrin meals on all my flights to other customers, and they are very respectful and keep the meals wrapped properly.

BMG

Delta never stopped having kosher meals where a meal was offered. It is the only legacy airline where there is true. Others have started again, notably American which used to offer them and stopped.

jamie

Any reviews for Kosher food on American transatlantic flights in economy? I’m too poor for business or 1st class seats. Hell I cannot even afford the preferred seating in coach!

AP

anyone know if the “kosher” meals from Warsaw to JFK and Warsaw to TLV on LOT Polish Airlines are reliable and who certifies them?

Ephraim

Hi Dan. I’m flying LH out of BOS on Sunday in C. Any idea who supplies them my meal? Should I not take a chance and just pick up something on my way to Newark which is my starting point?

Lipa

Excellent glatt kosher meals in First Class service on British Airways flight from between London and Tel Aviv. American Airlines brought us to and from London by way of JFK in N Y. Those meals were very good, but BA easily got the award!

Menachem

I got a delicious meal on American from LAX to MIA in biz class made by Inflight Delite Kosher (Bagel, cream cheese, lox, spinach omelet, potatoes, challah roll, orange juice and a black and white cookie) I was stuffed!!

My co-worker ordered a vegetarian meal and she says it was awful.

Jet Set Travel

Hi Dan,
I’ve just booked a flight from SEA-PHX on AA First Class. Will I get a KSML?

Dayan L Y

When travelling the day after Pesach, should I expect a kosher lepesach meal?

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