KLM Catering – Chicken or Beef?

In this blog, I’ll take you on a flight down memory lane to see what KLM catering was serving its passengers in the year 1965.

People love food, even onboard an aircraft. Passengers look forward to the meals and, personally, I quite like dining on board. It helps break the monotony of the flight and, if the meal is tasty, it makes the flight more pleasant. Admittedly, I’m an airline employee, but I’m saying this as paying passenger. The topic of catering cropped up as I was paging through back issues of the KLM staff magazine Wolkenridder, which I do from time to time seeking inspiration.

Served on a clean tray

The Civil Service for Aircraft Catering Provisioning – that’s a rough English translation of the name of the department that supplied food and beverages on board in 1965. It was actually an umbrella term for various departments that jointly put together the product: a meal, sometimes adjusted to meet personal wishes, with dishes that suited the time of day, served on a clean tray.

What did they take along?

Let’s start with a crash course in provisioning. According to the article, this came in three categories. The fixed provisioning included blankets, glassware and cutlery. The variable provisioning depended on the number of passengers and included meals and all perishable goods. And then there was the special provisioning, which included baby food and meals for passengers with specific dietary requirements. Passengers indicated their preferences when booking, and these were passed on to the kitchen.

KLM catering

“Especially for the ladies”

By 1965, the chefs who prepared entire meals on board were a thing of the past, but there was still a whole lot of cooking going on at KLM. On the ground, the Civil Service created thousands of meals a day. The magazine article sings the praises of KLM’s cooks, some of whom had won international culinary awards. And the department was always an interesting and impressive highlight of any guided tour of Schiphol. “Especially for the ladies”, according the article.

KLM catering

Roast chicken

I also ran into a nice little list. I love stats like these, and this overview also gives some insight into what passengers were being served on KLM flights back then, as well as the quantities involved. I should add that the catering department didn’t only serve KLM, but also produced meals for around twenty other airlines. Here are the daily figures for 1965:

3,000 cold dishes, fully composed;
250 chickens, roasted and deboned;
500 kilos of meat, roasted or stewed;
3,000 eggs, boiled and shelled;
2,000 pastries;
250 kosher dishes;
10,000 trays, fully laid out;
15,000 cups, saucers and plates cleaned;
50,000 knives, forks and spoons cleaned.

Washing up

KLM carried 1.6 million passengers in fiscal 1964-65, which had risen to 25.8 million in 2012. Disposable tableware was only introduced in 1969, but by 1965 KLM had installed a mechanised dishwashing system, which cleaned the tableware with demineralised water, ensuring a no-streak finish.

KLM catering 1930

The 1930s

I’d like to end off with some fun facts about KLM’s catering in the 1930s, which had only just begun and required some rather specific instructions, judging by the 1938 manual for cabin attendants: “The steward must at all times ensure that the serving of refreshments is not delayed until passengers demand them, but should instead seek suitable opportunities to offer refreshments to passengers, without being too insistent.”

And on the Amsterdam-Jakarta flight, stewards were given the following instruction for the stopover in Budapest. “The passenger will take lunch in the airport restaurant. Provisioning: purchase a peach for each passenger in the months June and July.” And the sourcing of liquor was also unusual: “Wine and beer shall, in consultation with captain, be purchased from the local constabulary.”

If you want to know more about KLM catering nowadays, What’s the Recipe for Dutch Salad is a nice read.

Posted by:   Frido Ogier  | 
Join the conversation Show comments

desmond chiang

Great meals KLM have for today flights. Keep it up be it western or Asian receipe….keep ur nasi goreng best for South East Asian cities flights……& don’t forget the sambal & achar (prickles)…..

Frido Ogier

Thanks Desmond! As far as I know it’s a tradition to serve this meal on board to that region for some decades.

Kind regards,


Kay Cullum

Not great anymore. Stale cheese sandwich next flight stale piece of cake. Really. Suggestions nuts chips cold cuts cheese we now take our own food this happens everytime we fly in Europe.

Sasja van Rijsewijk

Another great story about the history of KLM! Love it!

Frido Ogier

Thanks Sasja!

Kind regards,


maria barnes Rietje dus in het holl ands

Wat moet ik doen om 2 canaries uit Holland mee te nemen ,niet dat ik ze hier niet kan kopen maar er zit een verhaaltje aan fast.
Plezierige dag met zon voor jullie ,en we zien er op vooruit om weer eens een keer te vliegen met KLM eind April have a great day!

Frido Ogier

Zou je je vaag via Facebook willen stellen. De service agents daar zitten klaar om je vraag te beantwoorden.

Vriendelijke groet,


Walter Fokkens

Een leuk stukkie weer. Ik zou graag wat meer lezen over de organisatie (ook van het eten) voor de lange reizen (Schiphol-Jakarta, bvb), in de eerste jaren.
Dank je wel Frido!

Frido Ogier

Beste Walter,

Goede suggestie! Het hangt er een beetje vanaf hoe eenvoudig ik de juiste informatie uit de archieven kan halen. Als ik genoeg in handen heb, zal ik er te zijner tijd eens een blogje aan wagen.



José Roberto Jamur

Good times ! When the boarding service as excelent .
Now a days we must pay if we want to eat something on short flights. The meals on intercontinental flights are betters , but not so good as 20years ago.

Frido Ogier

Indeed José. Nice memories of a time when travelling by plane was something for the “happy few” :-)
If you have any suggestions, please contact the social media service agents on facebook.

Kind regards,



When I was in middle east I always prefer to travel by KLM for visiting my daughter in North America. Now Iam back in India I have missed that Chance beacuse no connection for Klm from my city airport CALICUT.KLM should start new schedules from southern states of India.


Commets already posted please.

June Nelson

Love reading KLM history. Always travel overseas from Canada via KLM….amazing cabin staff and service.

Frido Ogier

Thanks June! Very nice to hear.

Best regards,



i really like your planes and servíces i live in norte east México and i”m sure i Want to use KLM in future tríps

Frido Ogier

Thank you Victor, welcome on board!

Kind regards,


Allan Emrén

One main reason that I choose KLM when I fly is the excellent food and drink even in economy class. Many transporters are greedy with respect to that. Thus, I always add some 50-100 euros to their prices (depending on distance) when I make a comparison. If a transporter tries to save money where I can see it, what do they where I cannot (safety for example)?

Frido Ogier

Dear Allan,

Thanks! Very appreciated.

Kind regards,



Ik vloog vorige maand Amsterdam – New York in business class en het eten wsa fantastisch.

Frido Ogier

Beste Jeff,

Dank voor je compliment. Ik heb zelf ook 1 keer in de business class naar Chicago gevlogen en dat was mijn eigen kennismaking met hoe KLM de passagiers daar verzorgt. En al is het mijn werkgever, ik vond het ook echt lekker.



Reanto Betti

I was a kid when I first saw the advertisement KLM on television. And from that moment on, it was my dream to go to the Netherlands by KLM and see the windmills and the spotted cows. By coincidence, in 2002 my dream came true when my first trip to Europe was by KLM, and was to Holland.
A friend, that was living there, had said the food served on the plane was very little.
Can I tell you something? I’ve never eaten so much and so well within a plane!

Frido Ogier

Dear Reanto,

Thank you for your nice memory. It’s good to hear that KLM has served you a proper meal on your first trip to Europe and especially Holland :-). I hope we will welcome you again on our planes!

best regards,


Lolita M. Balboa

My first trip to Europe was in May, 1993 and KLM was my carrier. Since then, I always prefer KLM. Of my eight (8) trips (1993, 1996, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2007, 2013, 2014) – ALWAYS KLM. Great food served on flight – generous and superb. I love it! KUDOS to the cook and Congrats to the cabin crew – they may not be perfect BUT THEY WERE VERY GOOD! Looking forward to another trip in May, 2016 – GOD Willing!

Frido Ogier

Thanks Lolita! And Welcome on board again.

Kind regards,


Andrew Smith

For over 30 years I have travelled all over the world on various airlines (first world, third world) but the one that stands out as being the worst was one on a KLM non-stop flight in June 2008 from Shanghai (Pudong) to Amsterdam in economy. It was a very long flight (12 hours approx) in the daytime. The quality was poor, the quantity was miniscule and when I asked for more all I was offered was chocolate, peanuts and Chinese instant noodles (all junk food). If this food had been served in a Dutch prison it would have definitely contravened UN and EU rules about the treatment of prisoners. I have never been so hungry on a 12 hour flight. Because of this experience I have not (and will not) travel on KLM long haul again. I know you have high labour costs etc but trying to save 1 or 2 Euros on catering for a long haul flight is counter productive. And at 35,000 ft I can’t dash out and buy a sandwich. Sorry KLM its nice to read about your catering but my experience was awful.

Jan Börger

gelukkig geen Exota fles in de trolley !


Great article, you have to ask what has gone wrong now? recently flew Sao Paulo to Amasterdam in business class. Served cold “hot” rolls, cold coffee, cold “hot” towels. Poor selections and items missing from the tray. Sadly KLM is falling down by penny pinching and will surely lose my future custom.

Frido Ogier

Dear Andy,

I can imagine that this wasn’t what you expected and it’s absolutely not what you’ve paid for. I’ve sent your message to the social media agent so they can pay attention to your complaint.

Kind regards,



It was superb with quality and class !!!Good old days

Sergio Ochoa

Was a very good times , can you do it againg ?

Kelvin Ekberg

My 1st KLM was 1978, IAH to AMS connecting to GOT Sweden. As the flight was oversold I was put in seat 2A. Imagine a Texas 25 year old boy in suit and tie sitting in 1st class. The kind gentleman next to me explained the various meal services elements, wines and champagnes, and hot rolls with cheeses. I cherish my delf house given to me prior to landing. It remindes me of the start of my great adventure. Many elements of air travel have changed. Gone are glass, metal and cloth in coach replaced by plastic and paper. No more paper booklets of flight schedules, you’ve got an app for that. Great times we’ve had flying KLM, thanks

Frido Ogier

Dear Kelvin,

This is an impressive memory of which I can imagine that you still exactly know what happened although it’s almost forty years ago. Sure times have changed, but in our World Business Class KLM still uses a glass for your drinks, porcelain plates and a cloth serviette. The disposables in the economy class exist since the late sixties, so although you are right in several aspects, there is still enough left to enjoy :-)

Best regards,



My grandfather (a hungarian guy) was working at KLM this time (1963-69). We still have some KLM branded stuff like matches, spoons, glasses :)

Frido Ogier

Dear Akos,

Cherish these memories. They are collectors items nowadays!

Best regards,


Laya Witty

Look at how much legroom between the rows! those days are gone for sure!


Yes, lots of legroom and also notable that every row has its own window. I grew up to believe that that was the standard configuration for every airplane! Much like it was on a train. It was a confusing experience at fist, once I started flying regularely that not every row had precisely its own window (anymore). It is good to see that my childhood assumption was not just a fantasy, however! This makes me curious as to which aircraft we are looking at here. Any ideas?

Frido Ogier

Dear Hans,

These pictures are taken not in a real plane but in a mock up, but maybe you’ve noticed that. :-) The interior is the first class of a DC-8.

Best regards,


william loogman

I have always enjoyed the meals served on the flights I take. From economy to business class. . Keep up the good work KLM.

Willem Oskam

When we are together
I love you te pletter


I hate airplane food. It is getting worst w every flight. Good way to lose weight in order to fit in this ever narrow seats. I also noticed had emission leveld and frequency from people consuming this food in cabin increased. Dreadful confinement! I miss the old good days’ flying experience.

Lin Pearson

So wish i could have travelled in those times it must have been a very special experience x


1965, those were the days.. In 1965 my grandfather flew from Amsterdam to New York with KLM, and he made this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Du4LIMs0Szg

Frido Ogier

Hi Martijn,

Thanks for sharing your video! A real Super 8 film. I must say that your grandfather had a steady hand in filming. Very nice and it gives a nice view of how fling was in those days. It was difficult to film inside buildings (or planes) without a extra light. It shows :-)

Best regards,



In my childhood years flying was expensive, we usually took the ferry to make the crossing from the Netherlands to United Kingdom to see family. Though I still love the water crossing, I have very fond memories about the few times we flew to UK, it was amazing that during the short flight they would serve hot meals! As soon the plane is on cruising altitude, out comes the servingcart, giving you the choice of your meal and a drink. Most of the times we were still eating when the plane reached UK. I have to say as kids we were quiet during flight since we were eating the delicious meals, I remember I wanted to scoop the last sauce with bread but couldn’t ;).
Still today when I would go for a long flight, KLM is still my first choice, not only for their meals but also wonderful services, and I’m not the only one in my network ;)

John Mantel

In 1965 I was eleven years old. In June I was on a flight from KLM from Amsterdam to Detroit in order to stay for a ten week summer holiday in Grandville and Jenison, MI, where two brothers of my mother founded their families after emigrating from NL some years after WW II ended. The video shows Schiphol as I can remember how it was in those days. For a youngster like me my first flying experience was overwhelming! And the service on board was unknown and amazing!
Kind regards,

Jeanette May

KLM possibly the best airline I’ve flown with….amazing and fabulous air hostesses. Well done KLM



Rudie Filon

Vloog in 1960 als jongetje van 4 met de KLM (Super Constellation) met mijn moeder en met vele tussenstops van Amsterdam naar Nederlands Nieuw Guinea waar mijn vader als Marine officier een plaatsing in Sorong had. Herinner me lang niet alle details meer maar wel dat we ergens onderweg (dat was op een zondag geloof ik) een uitgebreide rijsttafel kregen voorgezet. Ook ander eten was altijd lekker en ik weet ook nog dat de stewardess met een reuzefles Boldoot 4711 rond sproeide toen er buitenlandse passagiers aan boord kwamen die een bepaald soort haarvet gebruikten wat een penetrante lucht verspreidde! In 1962 vlogen we terug, dit maal op een DC8, wat natuurlijk een heel stuk sneller ging. Vlieg nog steeds met veel plezier KLM, meestal richting het Verre Oosten!

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