Seemingly Wonderful Catering . . Part IVSusan C. Friedenberg, President & CEO of Philadelphia-based Corporate Flight Attendant Training & Services, continues her series of articles on food safety and discusses the importance of knowing your aircraft, its equipment and its restrictions.I'm good friends with the caterer at the Denver Jet Centre in Colorado - The Perfect Landing In-Flight Catering - which is owned and operated by Jim and Sean Carter. They have a wonderful restaurant upstairs at the FBO and do all of the catering coming out of Centennial Airport.When now President Obama accepted the nomination for the Democratic Party and the acceptance speech was to be made in Denver, I contacted them. I told Jim that he was going to be overwhelmed with the amount of calls and catering orders he'd be getting from this event. Aircraft would be arriving and departing from Centennial and surrounding airports in huge numbers. They needed to be prepared and focused on the actual catering that would be required, so I said "Let me take care of the orders." I also recommended that they should rent a 16-wheel refrigerated truck to keep the completed catering in, since the FBO's refrigerator wouldn't be able to cope.I told them that I'd be willing to come out for a week and sit in the FBO lobby with a nice table (white linen table cloth, bottle of champagne, flowers, chocolates) plus a selection of oven tins, microwave containers and silver trays in all shapes and sizes and, additionally, I'd have 2 or 3 telephones to take orders.At the end of the week they were thrilled that I'd assisted them. I was exhausted! I needed a vacation! I have to tell you that it was a harrowing & daunting experience. Being on the other end of the line so to speak, gave me a renewed respect for the caterers but, importantly, made me acutely aware of how things can be misconstrued!Catering orders, when misconstrued, can be a huge and costly mistake!Discovering how totally clueless some people can be when placing orders for their aircraft, their galley / cabin size constraints and their passenger's specific requests was an eye-opener for me as both an experienced corporate flight attendant and a trainer.Pilots, charter brokers, handlers, schedulers and dispatchers who aren't trained in ordering catering have no idea of the responsibilities surrounding the various aircraft size-restraints or galley restrictions, nor the dilemmas that await pilots and passengers on aircraft without a trained third crew member. No one on the other end of the line that week could answer my questions regarding allergies, religious, dietary or food trend restrictions for their passengers.One person called me to order a hot food meal service for their G-V departing out of Denver for Teterboro. They had no F/A. It was a Part 91 operation. I asked if the aircraft had a microwave, oven, etc. and the sizes / dimensions, and she had no idea . . .It's not their fault. You don't know what you don't know, I always say. It's not really a part of their job description!People were ordering the exact same boxed lunches for their two pilots - mayonnaise based sandwiches - in 95 degrees! This was a MAJOR food poisoning waiting to happen in the cockpit.A Business Jet or a 747?One woman, an untrained commercial F/A who was an 'acting' corporate F/A, was ordering her beverages in gallons rather than in pints or quarts for her one medium-sized ice drawer. She had 13 pax on a Falcon 900 EX and wanted each food item trayed separately; sliced fruit, sliced cheese, grilled chicken fingers, sliced beef tenderloin, assorted seafood trays, sliced baguettes and crackers, cookies, guacamole and salsa and baskets of chips, cookies and brownies times 13.It came to about 125 trays!Where do you store all this on a Falcon 900 with a one-sided forward galley?! . . . . and it was way too much food for a two and a half hour flight from Denver to Chicago at midnight. People would probably be trying to sleep. WASTED TIME AND $$$$$!Where on a Hawker 800 or a Legacy 450 are you going to put a tray of sandwiches or perishable seafood items for 6-8 passengers? There is no place to stow that safely, either for food safety (temperature) purposes or evacuation purposes, unless you know your equipment's space restrictions. One person told me that they would stow it in the bathroom for take-off. Where in life do you put food in a bathroom?Passengers notice everythingI want to share a story:Two years ago I was commissioned to design a forward and aft galley for food safety purposes on a Boeing 737 for people that were redoing the interior of a newly purchased older aircraft. The CEO's wife took me aside and said that they were chartering aircraft until the completion of this 737. She was very animated and upset telling me that the flight attendants were ordering the catering and then running out of storage space and stowing it in the lavatory. She said that she was disgusted by this and wanted to know why they do that and then said that she didn't want to eat the food or give it to her children. Her children asked her why 'the lady' was bringing the food from the bathroom?Many times, FBO's are charged with the task of ordering catering via the CSR's when a transient aircraft comes thru without a trained F/A. The PIC or SIC get off of their aircraft, ask for fuel, lavatory service, topping-off the potable water supply and any other specific aircraft service requests - which might include ordering the catering - for the outbound leg. The CSR's are basically clueless about the aircraft's galley equipment and cabin size restrictions. They don't know what questions to ask the pilots and they don't know what to tell the caterer.When the catering is wrong, the client is mad and at times will not pay for the catering. And you, the FBO, are stuck with the bill. It also happens to Charter operations. Some passengers even refuse to pay for the actual charter!I left Denver in shock. I was exhausted from the experience and realized what the caterers have to contend with when taking or 'trying' to take orders from untrained people. Hence this new one-day training on Food Safety Awareness & How To Order Catering for Business Aircraft was born.Knowledge creates power and alleviates lost revenue / profits.12 November 2009 C. Friedenberg - President & CEOCorporate Flight Attendant Training & ServicesTelephone # 215.625.4811Return to Published Articles


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