Cabin Crew Life Dictionary en

What is A Galley? And How Does it Work?

If you are looking to become a flight attendant you must become accustomed with the concept of airplane galley. For curious travellers on the other hand this is the chance to get an inside look at one of the key pieces of equipment that makes on board service possible. So let’s dive into what is a galley and how does it work?

In this post:

What is a Galley?

A galley in simple terms is the equivalent of a kitchen in an airliner. Full service airlines and low cost airlines obviously use their galleys in different ways. Full service airlines take full advantage of these spaces as they need to serve every passenger in the aircraft. Low cost airlines don’t have this need. These spaces are more areas where the crew hangs out while not busy in the cabin or more importantly storage space for high margin duty free products to be sold onboard.

All the aircraft’s catering will be loaded in the various galleys present on the aircraft. Some galleys are larger than others depending on the cabins they need to serve. For instance the largest cabin on all wide body planes is always the aft one that has to serve the economy cabin. They also vary in size depending on the aircraft type you find yourself working on. For instance an A330 has a much smaller rear cabin compared to a 777 where you could easily fit a pingpong table.


Don’t Miss Any Of My Latest Updates!

Get the most important aviation news in your inbox once a week.

Don't worry I won't spam you, but I need you to:*
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

What is a Galley on an airplane?

What Should You Know About These Galleys

On smaller airliners, like the A320 or the 737, there are only 2 galleys. One at the back and one at the front of the aircraft, between the two sets of doors. On these smaller planes the back galley will serve the economy cabin and the front one the business class cabin and will also help the rear one.

SAS Airbus A321neo on takeoff

On the larger planes, like the A330s and the 777s, there are usually 4 galleys. As you might have imagined, the largest galley is located in the rear of the aircraft between the last set of doors. In a Boeing 777 it is a very big space. If you’ve never seen it take a walk down there on your next flight.

Emirates 777 has 4 Galleys on board and is one of the planes with one the highest number of them.

There is another galley in the economy cabin between the second last set of doors. This is a smaller galley which helps the back one during the service. Generally the larger kitchen at the back of the aircraft is operated by the economy cabin supervisor. A normal operates the smaller galley. So if the service takes extremely long on your flight it has mainly to do with the organizational skills of these two crew members. The other two galleys are in the Business class cabin and the First class cabin.

What is It Like Working in The Galley?

This is one of the most complicated tasks a single crew can have on a flight. You need to think about a lot of things and organize everything the other crew members might need. The galley operator has to prepare the welcome service and time the heating of the meals. Also he is responsible for checking that catering has loaded enough meals on the flight.

Interior of Emirates Boeing 777-300ER which relies on galleys to operate and offer on board service to passengers in all cabins.

I must be honest it took me about a year of flying to master the skills needed to run the galley flawlessly. Also in the business and first class cabins the galley operator is responsible of plating the meals. The appearance of a dish in these cabins will depend a lot on the cabin crew’s skills.

It takes a lot of mental organisation to be an effective galley operator. If you don’t plan everything and move rapidly you risk making the service slow and bothersome for the passengers in the cabin. Catering is something every passenger will comment about on their flight and for economy class passengers the main part of the on board service experience. If the meal service goes wrong in Economy, be assured passengers will remember about it and will comment negatively about their experience.

Therefore it is a much trickier job than what most people or the occasional traveller might think. However once you get the hang of it, it is so much fun to work in a kitchen at 40,000 feet in the air.

The Issue With Narrow Body LR Plane Galleys

The fact that airlines have started using certain narrow body planes on long range services, such as the A321neo, has raised a galley issue. These planes have 2 galleys, one at the front and one at the back, and aren’t designed to be spacious working areas. The fact that they now have to be used to serve 1 or 2 full course meals to over 120 passenger means that inevitably the service is slower. Therefore if you find yourself flying long range on a narrow body, don’t be surprised if the service is slower than usual. It’s just a matter of not having the working space and tools that crew would have on a larger plane.

Don't Miss Any Of My Latest Updates!

Don't worry I won't spam you, but I need you to:*
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.