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So I went on 2 long (total of 16 hours) flights with a major US airline, and they did not provide a free in-flight lunch (grr) during either flight. I had brought a sandwich with me just in case, but when I asked the flight attendant if they could heat it up they said that they did not have microwaves. This was I think a 757 or similar aircraft.

When I landed I was asked about my trip, the microwave thing came up and was told (by an older person) that airlines did have microwaves and that mothers with children would often ask the flight attendants to warm up bottles of milk for them...?!

So now I'm curious, did aircraft used to have microwaves in the past? Were they removed? I now know the food they serve on airplanes is "heated via hot air ovens" but why would there not be a microwave on board? Even if just for crew use?

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    $\begingroup$ The food is usually not heated at the airport, but aircrafts have hot air ovens. I guess this is the reason why the food is in aluminum bowls. Plastic usually is a bad idea in such an oven, and also your sandwich should have been placed in a aluminum bowl, if they heat it for you. $\endgroup$ – sweber Mar 19 '15 at 10:43
  • $\begingroup$ I stand corrected then... Didn't know that! $\endgroup$ – unknownprotocol Mar 20 '15 at 4:10
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    $\begingroup$ They might have warmed the milk by putting the bottle into a pot/carafe of hot water from the coffee maker. $\endgroup$ – RoboKaren Mar 20 '15 at 7:30
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Generally speaking, airliners do not have microwave ovens for safety reasons. I could not find any reference where commercial airplanes used to have microwaves. Probably some smaller business jets have them.

Some flight attendants mention that they can warm your food, but some say that they will not for legal and health reason.

As also mentioned by sweber in comments to the question, meals are not heated at the airport. Airline catering companies like LSG Sky Chefs prepare the meal near the airport and deliver it to the airplane. Inside the airplane, they use convection ovens to heat it.

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    $\begingroup$ I'm not sure about airliners (7x7, A3xx, MD-80/88/90, etc.), but you can definitely get microwaves on some business jets $\endgroup$ – voretaq7 Mar 19 '15 at 21:44
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    $\begingroup$ Could you expand on "safety reasons"? $\endgroup$ – raptortech97 Apr 16 '15 at 2:19
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    $\begingroup$ haha, yeah, they'd have to heat your supper really hot if they heated it on the ground, since it's usually not served until 1-2 hours after takeoff... and that's to say nothing of what they'd have to do for the breakfast served 12 hours later. $\endgroup$ – reirab Jul 6 '15 at 16:16
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    $\begingroup$ @reirab So it's not that microwave oven could burn something down or alien rays problem? $\endgroup$ – vasin1987 Jun 17 '17 at 18:41
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I flew for TWA International from 1970-1990. We had microwave ovens on all of our 747's. It took a long time to train the older F/A's on their operation. Prior to their installation we cooked in convection ovens which cooked meals for 30-40 minutes depending on if they were frozen. Now you're telling me I can do this in 3-5 minutes? We destroyed so many Filet mignons by turning them into hockey pucks. Plus we had to warn the passengers with heart monitors that microwaves were onboard and in use. It was quite a learning curve.

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For the most part, no, they did not have microwaves onboard passenger aircraft. When serving large numbers of passengers a microwave would be a luxury taking up valuable space. Having said that I did work for an airline that did have microwaves onboard. It was an all first class airline with a small fleet of B727's. The aircraft were configured for 33 passengers. There were no menu items that were ever designed with the microwave in mind as a preparation method. Some chefs would use it to reheat a plate of food in a crunch but it was against policy and it would create fireworks onboard as the English bone china had a gold emboss on it that would spark. Hot water would be the only way a baby's bottle could be heated. Even if they had the ability to heat your sandwich they are correct in not allowing that due to health, food and safety regulations. Above all else, most passengers with manners would agree, it's a rather tacky request.

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    $\begingroup$ Some formatting would make your answers much more readable. $\endgroup$ – FreeMan May 1 '17 at 18:10
  • $\begingroup$ Expanding on food safety reasons, When you go to a restaurant and are served food, the restaurant knows who served you the food, who made you the food, who prepped the ingredients and finally they know the companies the ingredients came from. All are monitored by management following guidelines and inspections set forth by the health department. You bring in your own sandwich and want us to warm it up. we have no history on this sandwich, it could have been in your gym locker for all we know. $\endgroup$ – MK K May 1 '17 at 18:27
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    $\begingroup$ please feel free to edit that in to your answer text instead of adding it as a comment. $\endgroup$ – FreeMan May 1 '17 at 18:30
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    $\begingroup$ "A rather tacky request?" It may not be a request the cabin crew can fulfill, due to lack of equipment and/or company policy (the crew could spend the whole flight heating people's meals if this was a service they offered), but tacky? It's really not an unreasonable request at all, but unfortunately, it's not a service airlines usually provide. $\endgroup$ – Zach Lipton May 1 '17 at 21:59
  • $\begingroup$ It strikes me as tacky, too! :) $\endgroup$ – Fattie Aug 16 '18 at 3:51
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AA has Microwave Ovens on its 777-300 First Class Galley.

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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to Av.SE. It's helpful if answers here have a little more weight than "a post on the internet says ___". Are you an AA Flight Attendant who works on the 777-300's? That sort of background would add credibility to make this a better answer. (And if you aren't AA but have, maybe, non-revved on them, that's cool too... you still know your way around a galley better than the rest of us, and if you've seen them on there recently, that's a good data point.) $\endgroup$ – Ralph J Sep 8 '18 at 17:48

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