In its role as “the premier source for all kosher needs,”and in response to complaints by travelers that kosher food is no longer an option on domestic flights, the Orthodox Union Kosher Division today called on eight major domestic airlines to make kosher meals and snacks available for purchase on their flights, just as the airlines offered a kosher option when meals were included in the cost of a ticket. Since the airlines stopped providing the free meals, kosher passengers either must bring meals on board with them, or have nothing to eat on flights, even those of transcontinental length.
The airlines contacted are American, Continental, Delta, JetBlue, Northwest, Southwest, United and US Airways.
The OU has volunteered to work closely with the airlines in making the kosher food available, including providing the carriers with the names and pertinent information about OU certified caterers and snack manufacturers that could supply their planes.
In a letter to Vice Presidents for Food Services and other company officials, Rabbi Eliyahu Safran, Senior Rabbinic Coordinator and Vice President for Communications and Marketing of OU Kosher, noted that for decades, the OU has provided “reliable kosher certification of airline meals and snacks.” He added, “As the world’s largest and most respected kosher certification agency, the Orthodox Union certifies more than 400,000 products manufactured in 6,000 plants around the world. It is our symbol, the OU, that you see on so many consumer products in supermarkets today.”
Rabbi Safran noted in his letter, “Recently, many consumers, who are frequent airline travelers, approached us to see if we can find a way to make kosher certified meals and snacks available for purchase on those routes where this is the only option. We are well aware,” he added, “of the financial considerations that have made this policy so prevalent. But kosher consumers, who are equally willing to purchase food items, have been left with no option, as kosher meals and snacks are not available on your airline.”
“The OU seeks to share its expertise with you in order to assure that all passengers are truly able to equally enjoy meals or snacks on your airline,” Rabbi Safran wrote.
In an interview, Rabbi Safran noted that kosher flyers must prepare or purchase food before leaving for the airport, pass it through security where it is x-rayed, and bring it on board with the rest of their carry-on belongings, while non-kosher passengers have no such requirements. “It puzzles me why the airlines, which for so many years routinely provided kosher meals as an option – along with vegetarian and other special needs – eliminated kosher when they established the policy of on- board food purchase. But now is their opportunity to make up for this oversight, and the Orthodox Union will do everything possible to assist them in meeting the needs of the kosher passenger,” he declared.
Rabbi Menachem Genack, CEO of OU Kosher, expressed his belief that given the growing popularity of kosher products among non-Jews – particularly products carrying the OU symbol – that providing kosher food would satisfy a wide range of passengers. “The kosher market is enormous, it is expanding by 15 percent every year, and much of this growth is fueled by those who are not Jewish, but who purchase kosher food because of its high quality and its iconic brand names. Kosher at 35,000 feet will be every bit as popular as kosher in the supermarket,” Rabbi Genack said.