Category Archives: Fun Facts

Pilots and Co-Pilots Are Not Allowed To Eat The Same Food

Published / by Hunter Barrett

When on a flight, safety starts with a balanced and well working cockpit. Commercial airline pilots, believe it or not, have extremely different rules and codes of conduct from us groundlings as well as their other coworkers.

One funny example is that pilots can There is also another very interesting law that states that pilots and co-pilots cannot eat the same thing (aka meals) while they are both working in the cockpit.

There’s good reasoning behind this rule even though it seems rather silly and superstitious. The reasoning goes like this: if something is off about the meal, such as food poisoning or tainted food, BOTH pilots won’t be affected. The copilot can take over without any incident.

Although the FAA doesn’t mandate this rule, most airlines follow this and also have their own rules and regulations. There are also suggestions to pilots to avoid certain high risk foods such as raw fish and eggs before and whilst on the flight, to reduce the likelihood that the pilot will suffer gastrointestinal distress.

Seniority counts, even with the culinary options that are available to pilots. During an interview with Voyage Afield, Captain Han Hee-seong, who flies for China Eastern Airlines, states that co-pilots get a meal from business class while the pilot gets a meal from fist class. On popular question and answer website Quora, it was stated that kind first officers will allow their copilots to choose their meal first.

Although it seems that it would be rare that food poisoning would happen to pilots, it does indeed happen. In 1982, 10 crew members were incapacitated by a tainted tapioca pudding – including both pilot and co-pilot as well as the flight engineer – on a flight that was going from Boston to Lisbon. The flight, however, was thankfully able to turn around and land back in Boston without any further incidents. In 2010 it was reported that at least two pilots from the United Kingdom suffered from in-air food poisoning, although it remained unclear whether it was from on-board food or food eaten before the flight.