Question: I read that the FAA requires that pilots and co-pilots eat different meals on a flight. Was that ever really an FAA (or CAB) rule or is it company policy/practice at each airline?     

– George Stoner, Atlanta

Answer: I have not seen an FAA requirement for a meal difference. Many airlines require different meals for members of the flight crew in the belief that it mitigates risk of food-borne illness, but it is a choice made by each operator.

Q: Do you get the same crummy food the passengers do or do you get a special meal?         

– Paul Grandlake, Oklahoma

A: Flight crews do not get special meals. Crew meals for international flights are provided from the same flight kitchen as the passenger meals.

Q: Why do pilots allow a flight to depart the gate without enough food/drinks for all the passengers on board?      

– Johnny R, Columbus, Ohio

A: Pilots want all the passenger items to be on board prior to departure. There are occasions when it is not possible due to availability from catering or limited food options at an airport. This is not the pilot’s fault, and they calculate that many passengers would rather depart with low catering supplies than take a major delay. 

Q: Since most airlines only allow a small personal carry-on and a small bag to be carried on, why do airlines allow employees to carry three and sometimes four items on?

– George, St. Louis

A: Flight crew members are not restricted to the two-bag limit. They are often flying multiple-day trips and cannot check their bags. In addition, it is common for crew members to bring food to ensure they get adequate sustenance.

Q: Why don't you ever serve hot dogs on planes?

– John, Gainesville, Virginia

A: Food onboard is the choice of the airline. Why they serve what they serve is different for every operator.

John Cox is a retired airline captain with US Airways and runs his own aviation safety consulting company, Safety Operating Systems.