I don’t recall the airplane meals being anything like what I would normally consider food. But still I liked them and looked forward to them. Airline food had a special taste and consistency that I could enjoy back in the days when my digestive system could still hit a curve ball.
If the flight was long enough to be considered meal-worthy, the “steward” or “stewardess” (the ancient names for flight attendants) would serve each passenger breakfast, lunch, or dinner, depending on the time of day. My favorite meal was dinner, followed by a distant lunch and an even more distant breakfast. Lunch was just some turkey with a squeezable packet of Hellman’s, and breakfast was allegedly “eggs” and “sausage” but no laboratory could confirm this. But dinner was always great, and the main reason was because of the dessert.
Dessert was the crown jewel of the plastic divider plates, and carrot cake was the dominant dessert. I was on a flight to Florida to see my grandparents and eat ice cream every day when I had my first taste of airplane carrot cake. I went down the aisle of the plane, asking people if they were going to eat their carrot cake, or if they were going to finish their carrot cake if they had already started on it but looked like they might be full.
The most memorable airplane experience was when I flew to Vancouver Island the summer before my senior year of high school to spend two weeks studying killer whales and whether they preferred cable or satellite. The in-flight desert was a Table Talk apple pie. I wolfed mine down and then asked my classmates if they were going to eat theirs. Word spread quickly throughout the Boeing 747 that I was willing to eat unwanted Table Talk apple pie, free of charge, and the white and red boxes were piling up on my fold down tray. I was only halfway done when they announced that we were landing and had to put the tray tables back in their upright positions and that our Captain had turned on the “no-gluttony” sign.
Those days are over. Today, the flight attendants go down the aisle asking if anyone wants to purchase food. I don’t know if they sell dessert because I am too cheap to find out. I’m sure that some economics professor could prove to me on the back of a napkin that tickets would just be more expensive if the meals were included, and that this pricing model is really more efficient because people who don’t want meals can elect to forgo them and thereby reduce their flying costs. Of course, the professor would have to bring the napkin because I won’t pay for that, either.
Soon you’ll have to pay extra for a seat. The passengers will be standing on the plane as it taxis towards the runway, and the flight attendants will go down the aisle, asking three passengers at a time whether they would like to purchase a seat for the flight. Most people will decline the offer, because they will refuse to pay for something that used to be included. I know this because I will be one of them.