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A preview of the Christmas meals some airlines will be serving

ASMA KHALID, HOST:

It's the most wonderful time of the year and the busiest for air travel.

(SOUNDBITE OF PLANE TAKING OFF)

KHALID: If you're among the millions of passengers traveling over the holidays, maybe you'll get to enjoy a meal on board.

JENS KUHLEN: It's super important to connect the traveler to their families and to support that connection with a flavor that reminds them about memorable times of the past, of their childhood and of their family gatherings.

KHALID: Jens Kuhlen is the president of Gategroup North America. It's one of the largest airline catering companies in the world. He says some carriers are offering festive menu options throughout the holidays, such as...

KUHLEN: Roasted sliced turkey breast with a rosemary gravy, but then (ph) chestnut stuffings, glazed baby carrots, the Brussels sprouts.

KHALID: And sure, holiday meal planning can be a long process. But have you ever thought about the airline's chef?

KUHLEN: To just create one particular menu, it takes usually, from the beginning to until it flies, six to eight months.

KHALID: Farm to plane?

DENNIS LITTLEY: Emirates does prawns and salmon. You know, things like that occur over the holidays.

KHALID: Chef Dennis Littley is a food blogger who knows what it's like to have a holiday meal at 30,000-plus feet.

LITTLEY: On British Air, we had roast turkey or a choice of that and mince pie. Also, on Swiss Air, I had quite an incredible meal. A lot of times, they'll wow you with desserts. They'll come out with a chocolate mousse or a yule log. One smaller airline I flew on actually baked cookies in the sky. Just the smell alone was worth the experience.

KHALID: While in-flight meals can occasionally be as delicious as terrestrial dining, passengers are advised to go light.

LITTLEY: The low pressure and high altitude changes how your body reacts. So you could get bloating. You could have, you know, stomach issues.

KHALID: Chef Dennis recommends steering clear of salty and gassy foods, as well as things that can dehydrate you, like coffee and alcohol. Of course, the kind of meal and whether you actually get one depends on where you're seated.

LITTLEY: Business class and first class always gets better-quality food or a more - I don't want to say appetizing, but they're getting something that's a little special, where the regular passengers, you know, get the standard fare.

KHALID: If you're flying coach but have been nice this year, maybe you'll get a yule log, too.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "CHRISTMAS AT THE AIRPORT")

NICK LOWE: (Singing) It looks like Christmas - Christmas at the airport. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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