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When you travel, do you ever wonder how you can be that person who is always ahead of the pack, even when things go awry? Hosts Vinod Viswalingam (@VViswalingam) and Geoff Dahl (@geoffdahl) are proud to present The Seat 1A Podcast.

Seat 1A aims to provide savvy travellers with advanced industry based knowledge to enhance the air travel experience and take off from the crowd. By arming you with an understanding of the systems, processes, rules and structures that define modern air travel, Seat 1A strives to give you the upper hand by examining real experiences from abroad.

Whether traveling in ultra-economy or first-class, with or without frequent flyer status, knowing how the operation works will keep you moving in front of the masses, especially when things don’t go as planned. Seat 1A provides tips and tricks on how to make your travel experience as smooth and efficient as possible. Our goal is that you'll be in Seat 1A all the time!

We have over 5 million miles of flying and over 10 years working for numerous airlines, enjoying all classes and cabins, and exploring airports on every continent. We're enthusiastic #avgeeks, with a keen interest in modern aviation trends and aim to share our knowledge in The Seat 1A Podcast. To learn more about who we are, check out Experience 010!

The Seat 1A Podcast also relies on feedback from listeners, offering the chance to take real experiences and analyze them, breaking them down to understand what happened, where things went well or wrong and what can be learned from it. If you have a story, question or experience that you would like to share, please email us at stories(at) or find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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Experience 024 Show Notes. Into the mailbag - Part 1. Inflight meal service and free overnight accommodation. The Seat 1A Podcast.

Nov 19, 2019

Recorded 14 November 2019

Written by: Geoff Dahl & Vinod Viswalingam

Listen to this experience wherever you download your podcasts - including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn, Google Play  and Overcast.

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In this experience Vinny and Geoff go into the mailbag and review a bunch of different questions and feedback. We look at what is the logic and order of the meal and beverage service that takes place during a flight? We also look at free hotel stops – are they still provided by an airline?

Why do some passengers get served first? how do the cabin crew decide to serve passengers? How does the airline decide how many crew members to have? Who's in charge of the cabin crew? Why is one cabin crew always in the galley? Vinny shares his experience of working as inflight crew on multiple airlines.

How does the service flow and order work in first, business and economy classes? How does the length of flight change the timings and flow? What are all these different meals that are available for flights? The serving of your beverages, there are different methods that crew use. Which row does the crew start their service at? What happens when passengers have to get up?

Why do special meals have to get served first? How does the crew have to adapt to buy on board options? Here comes the turbulence – how does the crew handle the baggage carts in bumpy conditions? Just how much beef or chicken meals are there? Is your flight being catered independently or from a centralized kitchen? Geoff shares an experience at ORD where the special meal didn't match up where he was flying to. And what about the crew – what are they eating? Geoff shares a story of a travel agent who got a bland surprise. Sitting at the back, might not be bad for service – it all depends on the airline. Vinny remembers his favourite lamb pastry flying to Canada from LHR on Air Canada. There are shared memories of getting leftovers as ground crew – both above and below the wing.

Airlines that provide free overnight hotel stops – Vinny shares a childhood memory of a flight from YYZ-KUL via HKG with an included stay at the Kimberly Hotel. We share a story from Evelyn W who got a complimentary stay at a hotel in DEL while flying from SYD-FRA. But alas it is a rare thing nowadays. Some airlines though offer a stopover option without an additional fee.

News Items:

  • Business Traveller article "Southwest tests boarding from rear of planes"
  • pointmetotheplane article "Jail Time For Baggage Handler Who Swapped 250+ Luggage Tags"

If you have a meal or free included hotel story, a question or other experience that you would like to share, please email us at stories(at) or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Patreon. Show notes are available online at




NEWS ITEMS | Southwest tests boarding from rear of planes (13 November 2019)
"Many passenger aircraft have two doors, but typically are boarded using only one. Southwest Airlines is experimenting with a new boarding system using both doors that is facilitated by its system of not assigning seats to passengers." | Jail Time For Baggage Handler Who Swapped 250+ Luggage Tags (12 November 2019)
"Checked bags get put on wrong flights all the time, but usually due to negligence or some other non-malicious occurrence. However, an airport baggage handler at Singapore Changi Airport was given jail time for putting luggage on the wrong flights — totally on purpose."





  • Pia M
  • Joe R
  • Kevin R
  • Evelyn W
  • Brianne R
  • Aliki K



  • What's in this experience? [00:00:45]
  • We received a bunch of submissions and questions. [00:00:52]
  • What is the logic and order of the meal and beverage service that takes place during a flight? [00:02:49]
  • How are the crew configured for the flight? [00:04:31]
  • How is the number of crew for a flight determined? [00:05:04]
  • Cabin leadership structure. [00:05:40]
  • Galley crew. [00:05:59]
  • Who gets to work the galley? [00:06:32]
  • Galley assignments in first and business classes. [00:08:09]
  • First Class service experience. [00:09:22]
  • Business Class service order experience. [00:11:27]
  • Differing service order timings depending on flight length. [00:12:53]
  • Large number of different meal types available. [00:16:10]
  • Service flow in economy class. [00:17:06]
  • Beverage service. [00:17:22]
  • Work to meet style of cart operation. [00:18:51]
  • What row does the crew start at? [00:20:34]
  • Work together and run the line style of cart operation. [00:21:34]
  • The difficulty with passengers who decide to get up during the beverage service. [00:22:43]
  • Meal service. [00:24:33]
  • Why do special meals go out first? [00:25:46]
  • Buy on board offerings and how it is affecting meal service. [00:28:59]
  • Safety with food carts during turbulence. [00:30:18]
  • What are the ratios for meal choice? [00:33:40]
  • Difficulties with lining up meal service with body clock on intercontinental flights. [00:35:19]
  • Where has your flight been catered out of? [00:37:10]
  • Geoff vegetarian option from ORD - the offering didn't match where he was flying to. [00:39:01]
  • Crew meals - sometimes they get lined up differently than the rest of the flight. [00:41:26]
  • If someone else booked your flight, make sure you're not going to get a special meal surprise. [00:42:07]
  • Conclusions of logic and order for meal and beverage service. [00:42:44]
  • Sitting at the back might actually not be that bad for service. [00:43:02]
  • Any favourite meals? [00:44:19]
  • Vinny loved Air Canada's lamb pastry from LHR. [00:44:33]
  • We'll come back to the food question in a future experience. [00:45:13]
  • Working ground and getting delicious leftovers - sometimes the galley was raided. [00:45:54]
  • Airlines providing free overnight hotel stops. [00:47:02]
  • Vinny shares a memory of a free layover hotel stay at HKG. [00:47:34]
  • Evelyn W's story of SYD-FRA with a free included hotel stay in DEL. [00:49:19]
  • Free overnight accommodation is very rare nowadays. [00:49:48]
  • Some airlines now give a stopover option without an additional fee. [00:51:20]
  • News Items. [00:52:08]
    • Southwest tests boarding from rear of planes. [00:52:13]
  • Geoff remembers flying HRE-FRA where he was required to exit from the back. [00:53:08]
    • Jail Time For Baggage Handler Who Swapped 250+ Luggage Tags. [00:54:57]
  • Wrap-up. [00:56:24]