Question: I have always wondered about food and garbage on international flights. Since the import of fruits, vegetables and meats is restricted, what do airlines do with the garbage? Do they bring it back to the point of origin, or can they leave it in the foreign country?
– Lawrence Weiner, Toronto
Answer: International garbage is disposed of in accordance with local laws. Often it is burned. Specially trained ground personnel remove the garbage and then take it to the proper site for disposal.
You are correct about there being significant restrictions on bringing many types of food into countries.
Q: I was on an overseas flight that was canceled. What happened with the food that was on the menu? Was it wasted?
– TC RST
A: Usually the food on a canceled flight no longer meets the temperature requirements and is discarded.
Q: Can an airline prevent a passenger in coach from using a bathroom in first class? Often the restrooms at the back of the plane are blocked with food carts, etc. I don’t understand how an airline can demand that you can’t use a certain bathroom.
– John, Chicago
A: Each operator is different. Some operators and regulators view it as a security enhancement to require passengers to remain in their cabin class. You are required to comply with the instructions of the crew regarding the use of a lavatory. If they tell you that you must remain within your section of the cabin, it is mandatory.
Q: On every flight I take, I hear an announcement to raise my seat back and close my tray table (typically before landing). But I don’t believe I ever heard an announcement that I may recline my seat and open my tray table. Why isn’t that announced? When is it OK to recline my seat and open my tray table? Thanks, Captain Cox!
– Yehoshua, New York
A: For takeoff, once the airplane is airborne you may open your tray table and recline your seat.
For landing, tray tables must be stowed and seats in the upright position. This is normally done when the airplane is descending through 10,000 feet.
There are requirements for the tray table to be stowed and the seat to be in the upright position so there are announcements. There is no requirement to open the tray table recline or so there are no announcements.
John Cox is a retired airline captain with US Airways and runs his own aviation safety consulting company, Safety Operating Systems.
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