Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >
Mar 25, 2014 09:21 AM

Plane Food for a LOOONG Flight--Frozen pastrami?

We're flying to South Africa. The good news is that it is non stop, the bad news is that it is a 15 hour flight. The surprising news is that only two meals are served; lunch on takeoff and breakfast an hour before landing. This was pretty surprising to me, especially since it is such a long flight and we're going business class.

I want to take snacks on board. We have pastrami(from Katz's!) that is cooked and sliced that we vacuum sealed and froze. What do you think about taking it on board along with rye bread and mustard? Since it is frozen, I wouldn't need ice packs. Would it be "safe" to let it defrost at room temperature?

Thanks for input.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. It seems as if from what you are saying the flight is over night? So about half of those 15 hours should be during sleeping hours?

    Regardless of that I'm sure you will have to check with customs if bringing food of this nature is allowable. Frozen foods are generally not considered "snacks" I'm also unsure if they would allow mustard on board.

    The frozen pastrami should be find to "thaw" at room temperature to answer that question directly. Although I'm not sure this is the wisest idea.

    39 Replies
    1. re: jrvedivici

      The flight leaves at 11 AM and lunch is served right after takeoff. It seems like a long stretch not to have something to eat in the evening, before we (try to) sleep.

      1. re: DaisyM

        Which airline? I assume you are not a regular international business class flyer (apologise if you are for the basic info):

        If you are in business they will serve a fairly large lunch/dinner after take off with a big selection of drinks and wine (and if it is SA Airlines it will be a good selection) - it's often a starter, selection of bread, main course, cheese, dessert and chocolates.

        After this they will dim the lights to allow sleep, then they wake you up for breakfast before landing - in SA most international flights come in early in the morning.

        I am pretty certain all airlines in business have a range of (free) snacks available, including sandwiches and maybe some simple hot food (e.g. pies, pot noodles, panini), plus nuts, fruit, biscuits, candy bars etc etc. You can ask the cabin crew for these, or they may have a help yourself larder. Often the "light snack" options will be in your menu as something to order if you are hungry.

        Breakfast will be a selection of foods, including juices, yoghurts, pastries, fruit, and a hot meal.

        Trust me flying business class means you don't go hungry or thirsty.....even with the US carriers I have tried.

        And if you want something just ask.

        1. re: PhilD

          We fly internationally at least once a year, but this is the first time to South Africa. I had read a couple of blogs regarding this flight (the only non stop flight from the US to Johannesburg) and read comments about 2 small meals and snacks of oreo cookies or something like a hot pocket. Both of those people were flying business class. I called the airline and that was confirmed. So, I just wanted to make sure we had enough food...especially if one of us isn't able to sleep well.

          1. re: DaisyM

            I'd advise bringing non-perishable protein-containing snacks that you can bring through customs if you don't eat them on the plane... commercially bagged trail mix, and stuff like that. The pastrami is okay, although you'll have to discard anything you don't eat because processed meats aren't allowed through customs, but I'd do crackers instead of sliced bread and mustard - trying to make sandwiches on a plane can get real messy!

            1. re: Kajikit

              I can't actually find anything that says that about any food products for South Africa. And I don't think making a sandwich harder than any of the other things one gets served. Butter, salad dressing,etc.

            2. re: DaisyM

              Ok - but it does seem really odd. I don't think I have ever come off a international business class flight hungry and SAA has reasonable reputation.

        2. re: jrvedivici

          Well, OP isn't going to bring the food into another country but rather eat it on board so customs isn't an issue. One isn't limited to "snacks" at all. I regularly take sandwiches on planes. Also, as long as it's under 3oz of mustard (and that's a helluva a lot of mustard!) it's not a problem.

          1. re: c oliver

            Sandwiches and snacks yes, a frozen block of pastrami? I'm not sure how they would react. lol

            Hey why not bring a lottery machine on board and open up an in flight bodega!

            1. re: jrvedivici

              No different than the two dozen bagels we brought back from NYC recently. Oh, yeah, and we carry on A BUNCH of those little miniature liquors :) Woo hoo!!!

              1. re: c oliver

                On our most recent family trip home from Aruba, mom was in a wheel chair due her declining health. Being in a wheel chair in an airport you get the VIP expedited treatment so we were always playing catch up with her. Once we got to the final security check/body, baggage scan etc. mom was waiting for us with her airport employee I approached mom had a 3/4 full .750ltr f Stoli Vodka she had in her room for bloody mary's etc. but didn't finish. They wouldn't let her past security with it so she had it out and said; "Oh I forgot to give this to you when we checked our bags"..........taking the bottle from her I looked around at the various posters and signs that said no more than 4 oz of liquid etc. and proceeded to chug the rest of the bottle there at security. By the time anyone could say anything it was all gone.

                I had also previously filled my flask with vodka before leaving the resort to hold me over during the flight, everyone said I was going to get caught. Attached is my photo evidence at sneaking my stash past security. I wish someone had gotten a picture of me chugging the stoli at the gate.

                1. re: jrvedivici

                  We do refill five or six each of the miniatures with Scotch for Bob and vodka for me. We're quite discrete in using and always buy one when its not free. Even on international flights these days, a lot/most of the US carriers are charging.

                  1. re: jrvedivici

                    I was once going through TSA with my wheel-chair bound mother. We did not know it at the time, but there was a TV video production crew at that TSA location. Six months after my mother died, my father saw her on 60 Minutes. Lesley Stahl did a segment on the TSA. She said, "they even search old ladies in wheel chairs". And all we got to eat was either cookies or pretzels.

                    (Did you really chug more than a 1/2 liter of vodka?)

                    1. re: John E.

                      John amazing you share your story......what I didn't mention in my original story is I lost my mom just over a month after we returned from that trip.

                      Yes, I did chug that much vodka straight, and might I add it was in her bag in 90 degrees heat for a good hour or two prior to chugging it. It was not a something I would recommend, mom got a kick out of her son doing something outrageous as I've spent most of my life doing.

                      In all honesty John, I've been a functioning alcoholic all my life so stunts like this aren't exactly new. I'm not proud or bragging just being brutally honest.

                      1. re: jrvedivici

                        Condolences about your mother. I just got off the phone with my snow bird father. He's having a martini and porterhouse steak right now (doing well at 82.)

                        1. re: John E.

                          I thought martinis were like potato chips --- you can't have just one.

                          1. re: c oliver

                            The custom in his retirement park in Arizona is to meet for 'social hour' at 4:30p (actually 90 minutes) with snacks. So it's a 2 drink minimum. Then they generally skip supper. I guess there wasn't a gathering tonight.

                          2. re: John E.

                            Thank you for the condolence.

                            Your father is everything I aspire to be! Do me and your father a favor, have a martini with him, indulge in his enjoyment.

                            If you were anywhere within my real world realm I would buy that drink for the two of you.

                            Enjoy, God Bless

                            1. re: jrvedivici

                              Condolences regarding your mother.

                          3. re: jrvedivici

                            I'm always amazed at the "advice" to limit alcohol consumption on airplanes. What the hell else are ya gonna do? Complain about food smells :) J/K. Our upcoming trip to Europe will involve multiple cocktails preflight, more once airborne and an Ambien. Oh, right, and the percocet for my newly diagnosed (likely) rheumatoid arthritis. No, I won't be operating any heavy equipment.

                            1. re: c oliver

                              I'm honestly surprised in today's climate that they allowed me to board the plane. Once we cleared security our flight was delayed about an hour, so we now had 2+ hours to "kill" in the terminal. My daughter is 18 (legal to drink in Aruba) my son 16 (not legal but looks it and was getting served and walking into casino's like he was the Aruban Wayne Newton) so I decided to have a going away party at the terminal bar for the two hours before boarding.

                              To say I was pretty well buzzed up would be an understatement.....

                            2. re: jrvedivici

                              Thanks for the explanation. I had just done the calculation and was thinking that if I chugged .56 liter of vodka at the gate they would have had to use a stretcher to get me on the plane, with a stop at the nearest emergency room.

                              1. re: Querencia

                                For full disclosure purposes I could also add I'm 6'4 and 310lbs which also allows me a slightly higher tolerance than most people.

                            3. re: John E.

                              OMG, John! As I was reading through this thread, the discussion of TSA screenings made me think of my grandmother and the 60 Minutes segment of YOUR mother. This happened to my grandmother also.

                              TSA singled her out. They made her get up out of her wheelchair, she had to be helped up by two agents and then patted down. She is old as shit now and at the time it happened, she was 92 or 93????

                              I think it was last year I was at my parent's apt. and saw the 60 Minutes repeat. I pointed at the screen and said, "Look, that happened to grandma!" LOL

                              Little would I know it was your poor mother on that segment!

                              1. re: mushroomaffairs

                                I was with her and they would not allow me to help her to standup. By that time in my mother's life she had dementia and was calling for me out loud and the TSA agents would not let me come to her. It still makes me tear up when thinking of that experience.

                                The good thing is we got reheated grilled cheese sandwiches on that flight.

                            4. re: jrvedivici

                              Why won't this reply below Jrvedvici of being in the airport with his mom in a wheelchair.To the point. Bravo, Standing ovation. Still clapping........Taking care of their mom.

                            5. re: c oliver

                              Our traditional bag of carry-on liquids includes 3.4 oz. bottles of vodka with the toothpaste, etc. Found some reusable bottles in the travel aisle at Target. Those, along with Laughing Cow "cheese", triscuits and a plastic knife make our cocktail hour if we have to fly coach. (Which with airlines being ever more stingy with mileage awards is often.)

                              1. re: gourmanda

                                I just refill the miniatures and make no attempt to hide them. Never have had a problem. There's no rule against carrying them on so security shouldn't and hasn't had a problem with it. WE'RE the stingy ones with our miles. Would never use them for business, much less first.

                                1. re: c oliver

                                  The only concern is the limit on liquids allowed via TSA rules. We don't hide them either, I can just take more in the 1quart bag in the larger size reusables.

                                  1. re: gourmanda

                                    I'm going to take a look at some of those.

                                    1. re: gourmanda

                                      I once got an unopened jar of peanut butter confiscated and another time my tube of toothpaste was apparently too large. Meanwhile, I once accidently carried onboard a folding knife with a 6" half-serrated blade. It got through TSA and I did not discover it until two days later.

                                      I miss the good old days where they actually served meals on domestic flights. These days we usually eat at the airport and then have some snacks on the plane.

                                      1. re: John E.

                                        They still serve meals. You just pay for them in economy :) Airlines have monstrous expenses and I think paying for meals is an easy way to save some.

                                        1. re: c oliver

                                          The only flight I usually take these days is a 3-1/2 hour flight from MSP to PHX and they offer pre-maid sandwiches and snacks. We can get better food at the airport.

                                          1. re: John E.

                                            Oh, I totally agree. When a Pringles "event" occurred on a flight recently, I did pay a stupid amount :) But, yeah, either bring from home or buy at the airport. And as a side note, I got a great rec on the SF board for a breakfast burrito that was top notch.

                                            1. re: c oliver

                                              The airport in the Twin Cities is one of those airports where they got local resaurants to open up outposts at the airport behind the TSA checkpoint. There are lots of choices for good food that isn't fast food or from chain restaurants. We actually go to the airport more than three hours before flights just to have a good meal before we get on the airplane.

                                              I remember as a young child when the stewardesses handed out half-sized pieces of Wrigley's chewing gum to all passengers to chew because the DC-3 cabin was not pressurized. I remember the candy machine at our little airport, but nothing about the food served on the airliner.

                                              My only airline food memory from my youth that I can recall is a flight from Anchorage to Seattle when I was seven years old. It was an evening flight and I remember they served potato salad at midnight. My mother made me and my oldest brother eat a bite of the potato salad while our middle brother was sleeping. We both still remember this almost 40 years later. (Both of us detest mayo.) My big brother brought this up for some reason while I was visiting him in the hospital. (He was/is recovering from kidney cancer surgery. The good news is they told him his chance of the cancer returning is 1%. I'll walk around with a 1% percent chance of cancer anytime.)

                                              1. re: John E.

                                                We'll keep our fingers crossed for your brother.

                                                After almost missing a flight from Rio a few years ago, we now ALWAYS, 100% of the time, clear security right away. So anything pre-security never clears our radar.

                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                  I haven't been on an international flight in a while. I do remember a flight on Air Moldova (the second smallest of the Soviet states) where we boarded the airplane via the tail, like a Boeing 727. The airplane was a Soviet made Yak 42. The cabin interior looked like a Greyhound bus. There was a shelf above for carry-on luggage.

                                                  It was also general admission seating. I went to my assigned seat and somebody was already there. I ended up at the front bulkhead window seat where my knees were against the bulkhead and my head was bent so it did not touch the interior of the cabin. 

                                                  Thankfully, it was only a two hour flight. The food service was excelllent. They served cold roast pork, dark bread, a cheese and fruit plate, crackers, cake, red wine, and coffee. It made up for the poor seating.

                                                2. re: John E.

                                                  Agreed on the good restaurants at MSP. The only time I make it to French Meadow is if we are flying. Parking is already taken care of! And we purposely make sure we need to pick of a sandwich there.

                            6. re: jrvedivici

                              I checked on frozen food for a domestic flight and had no problem taking a frozen cooked(low & slow)Pork roast for pulled pork to my Mom's.
                              TSA was prompt in their reply. And it was in my carry-on, no pulled pork for larcenous baggage handlers!!
                              Check with customs. Sure sounds good to me!! Yum. Hope it flies/flys?

                            7. Please consider the "aroma" factor. How about something like non-stinky cheese and crackers instead? Fruit (likely have to leave any that is uneaten on board)?

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: gourmanda

                                Do you think it will be a problem since the meat will be cold not warmed up as we would usually eat it?

                                1. re: DaisyM

                                  It will definitely smell. I've done this before and tried various means - and it always smells. Everything in the air will have a stronger aroma. I give this a definite thumbs DOWN.

                                  1. re: cresyd

                                    We did this with cold cures meats going from Seattle to Baltimore and it reeked! I was embarrassed but at that point we were already on the plane and it already smelled so we went ahead and ate.

                                    Just don't do it. There must be something substantial yet benign you can bring instead.

                                    1. re: melpy

                                      My specific flight in question was Brussels to Tel Aviv - I could not believe how much it smelled. Luckily it was a flight without too many religious passengers so I didn't have to deal with being mortified by the smell combined with being uncomfortable of offending a large number of religious people.

                                  2. re: DaisyM

                                    Yes, sorry DaisyM, but I do think the smell will be a problem. Granted you are further apart from each other in Biz but it's still going to be unpleasant for others.

                                  3. re: gourmanda

                                    I agree, first thing I thought was OMG that smell when I'm trying to sleep!

                                  4. based on the amount of salt in the meat it probably is safe.
                                    It's a pretty aggressive odor though in tight spaces

                                    1. First of all, I'd doublecheck that meal info. We've gotten three meals in economy on 'only' eleven hours from Munich to SF. But, yeah, your pastrami will be fine. Unless you want to have a flight attendant cut the package open, I'd open it and just rewrap in plastic wrap and then put that in a zipping bag. Sounds like a great meal and your fellow passengers will be jealous :)

                                      1. The surprising news is that only two meals are served; lunch on takeoff and breakfast an hour before landing.

                                        Although there will be only two cabin services, there will be unlimited snacks and beverages available from the service bays. I would suggest you bring dried fruit, assorted nuts and maybe some jerky instead.