Food service personnel include cooks, food preparation agents, kitchen helpers, dish room workers, other kitchen staff, and administrative staff. Workers are stationed in a flight kitchen at the airport. These employees prepare and cook food for the flights. They also set up silverware, dishes, and glasses, and arrange the food in containers. Food service work is similar to working in a restaurant kitchen. Food service employees can either be hired directly by an airline or through a catering company that has been hired by the airlines to handle all of their food service needs.
Working in the food services is a great way to break into the aviation industry in a behind-the-scenes role. Opportunity for advancement for food service personnel includes promotion to steward chef, pantry worker, assistant buyer, or commissary chief.
Work in commercial kitchens can be hectic, stressful, noisy, and requires wearing a uniform as well as weekend, night, and holiday shifts.
The ability to work long hours without sitting down, basic food preparation or cooking experience, the willingness to work weekends, nights, and holidays.
A high school diploma or equivalent is required. Some airlines require food service personnel to be at least 18 years of age. Health Department certification is required, but most employers will work with the employee to obtain that. Senior food service personnel positions require more extensive restaurant or food service experience, and possibly a culinary degree or vocational training.
Most training for food service personnel occurs on the job.
Salary and Benefits
Pay ranges from $9.00-$13.00 per hour. Some airlines and catering companies offer benefits to food service personnel such as free or discounted meals, free airport parking, insurance, and a retirement plan.