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Is It Ok to Order Seconds in First or Business Class?

Is It Ok to Order Seconds in First or Business Class?
Ariana Arghandewal

Etiquette in first and business class is always a concern for newbies who haven’t flown in premium cabins before. But it’s also something every traveler should be mindful and considerate when traveling. One of the questions that came up recently was whether it’s OK to order seconds in first or business class. As usual, my answer is “it depends.”

In Business Class

I think it’s certainly fine to ask for seconds as long as you’re aware that in some situations, the crew may not be able to accommodate you. This is the case when business class cabins are packed and sometimes the crew even runs out of “first choice” items.

I would wait to ask for seconds once the whole cabin has been served. Especially if you’re asking for a second entree. The crew might be running low on food and asking for seconds when not everyone has been served is a little inconsiderate. Ordering a second snack or appetizer is probably fine in these situations. Again, just know that the crew may or may not be able to accommodate your request and don’t hassle them if that’s the case.

In First Class

In first class, there’s a little more flexibility. The cabin is smaller, less packed, and there’s generally more abundance. Depending on the airline you’re flying, the flight attendants are instructed to go above and beyond. So asking for seconds while flying, say, Etihad apartments, is probably not going to be a problem. The galley kitchen is well stocked and the crew is happy to take care of extra dining requests. Again, the key is to ask politely and be prepared for rejection in case the crew is out of options.

Ultimately, whether it’s OK to order seconds in first or business class depends on the situation. In first class, I think it’s almost always OK to order a second main course – especially if the first one was particularly inedible. I would definitely feel out the situation. If the cabin is packed and the flight crew has already announced that they’re running low on food, obviously it’s not appropriate to ask for a second main course. A second appetizer? That’s probably more likely to be available.

It Can’t Hurt to Ask

I think it’s always fine to make a request like this if you do it politely. The crew will do their best to take care of it and if they can’t, then no harm done. I know a lot of first-timers feel self-conscious traveling in premium cabins. Note that the flight crew is generally empowered to take care of passengers to a reasonable degree and they certainly will. In first class even more so. That being said, passengers should still be considerate and not put the flight crew in an awkward position if they’re very clearly running low on food. That’s definitely not the time to ask for an extra main meal, but a side dish or snack shouldn’t be a problem. As usual, be polite and gracious in your requests/handling of denials.


What are your thoughts on ordering seconds in first or business class?


[Image Source: Cathay Pacific]

View Comments (22)


  1. MrMan

    December 4, 2018 at 1:06 pm

    It appears author has not flown much or routinely. There is limited meals boarded and your not guaranteed your first choice of meal, much less ‘seconds’

  2. tacostuff

    December 4, 2018 at 1:44 pm

    On one recent CX F flight I flew with my significant other, only four of the six F seats were occupied. After the caviar course, I asked if they had the caviar for the other two empty seats, and if I could have one of them as “seconds.” They had no problem and were happy to oblige!

    Between the multiple tins of caviar, and trying to drink all of the Krug on the plane, it was a pretty good flight!!

  3. flying_geek

    December 4, 2018 at 1:55 pm

    the author is right – it depends – often also on the airlines. Qatar for example gives you a menu and you can order anything whenever in any order. My main QR route is DOH-MIA and at the end of the flight, many things become unavailable – but you get the idea. Airlines like Austrian, who “prepare” parts of the meal onboard also are good for multiple dishes – though they do run out and for example always ask non-refs in premium cabins last.
    I sometimes ask for seconds even on the ground, as recently as yesterday I had the steak and the burger in AAs MIA Flagship 1st dining lounge – and I felt a little bad about it – and the same time, I did not have a meal on my flight and I think a couple people in F did not – so plenty of meals to go around. I am assuming what doesn’t get consumed gets tossed – so I felt bad for not eating mine too – felt a lot bad for food related things yesterday apparently ;-)

    Point is – airlines are quite differently prepared for this. I have been on long BA flights where I was hungry and nothing could be found in J cabins and crew went to see if there was any food left in Coach

  4. lloydah

    December 4, 2018 at 1:56 pm

    I have found that I’m often offered seconds or other menu items when in F on AF or LH. But then I don’t remember the last time I flew when the F cabin was full, so presumably it’s all down to supply and demand.

  5. eng3

    December 4, 2018 at 2:25 pm

    “I think it’s certainly fine to ask for seconds as long as you’re aware that in some situations, the crew may not be able to accommodate you.” This is basically the entire article. And basically just common sense for any situation in life. It doesn’t hurt to ask as long as you are able to accept the answer.

  6. edgewood49

    December 4, 2018 at 2:31 pm

    I concur with MrMan it appears the author is writing without expressing her own experiences traveling in First or Business. She does not delineate between domestic or international totally different. On flying domestic and this applies US or Europe the catering is very limited as is space. So one meal per passenger. If you want seconds then it peanuts or pretzels. Internationally is far different airline to airline. I wondering did the author get seconds on Etihad? Most ME3 pack a lot of provisions on their flights and I have had on a number of occasions asked if there is anything else on the menu I would like. I have had two orders or caviar on EK long haul spreading out over the 16 hours. But then their caviar is really fresh.

    These blogs are suppose to be from personal first hand

  7. fotographer

    December 5, 2018 at 1:52 am

    you are assuming that the food is going to that tasty that you want seconds

  8. LHR/MEL/Europe FF

    December 5, 2018 at 4:15 am

    I believe some airlines – like LH – fully cater the F cabin with one of everything for each passenger. So if you want seconds, or even thirds, you’re going to get them. Other airlines either share the F and J menus (so F always gets first choice) or if they don’t share a common menu, will run out of some dishes.

  9. dgoedken

    December 5, 2018 at 4:21 am

    Was allowed this on a flight from NRT (in biz) to ORD. They were more than happy to accommodate. Granted much of the aircraft was empty in my cabin, but also likely they only took so much food as well.

  10. amnicoll

    December 5, 2018 at 4:32 am

    I often will ask for seconds (long haul business class)BUT I always wait until the cabin has been served. yes often you will not always be able to get your first choice but that is fair enough. On some occasions i have worked my way through all 3 breakfast options

    In the past I would often ask for second meal in economy and be served. last year on Thai Smile in economy the stewardess was more than happy to give me extra “lunches” once again after the cabin service was complete

    I see no problem in asking but you have to remember that it is not a right and that either your choice or the whole menu may not be available

  11. peterk814

    December 5, 2018 at 5:26 am

    A- stop being fat
    B- the caviar used on planes is cheap. It’s not like it’s beluga. Buy and eat it at home if you want it that much.

    People ask for seconds only because they think it’s so prestigious and want the image.

  12. Stephen25

    December 5, 2018 at 8:07 am

    On a recent flight in J from SCL-DFW I pre-ordered a meal that was horrible and nothing like the description. I am not a picky eater at all but I couldn’t eat ANYTHING on the plate. After waiting for everyone to be served (and then another 45 minutes for the AA flight attendants to get off their butts and come through the cabin), I requested a new meal, which she begrudgingly brought out. I then waited for a full hour for them to pick up my tray.

    So no, I have no problem asking for a second dish as long as you are considerate of everyone else in the cabin. I also can’t say enough bad things about AA and their flight attendants, overall customer service (on the ground included), on time performance, food selections, and seats (on their 772).

  13. eefor jfp

    December 5, 2018 at 8:18 am

    It really does depend on the airline. On BA, it used to be fine to have whatever whenever. Now the cabins are full and the leftovers are for the staff. So unless someone else foregoes something, there is nothing for seconds, even in first. Asking nicely my last few times has been met with , “Sorry, but we only load enough for each passenger to have one appetizer or main.” Often dessert/cheese seems to be an exception(i.e. you can have both), as are extra appetizers or mains on late night flights when people have eaten dinner in the lounge and just want to sleep).

  14. ZJ3000

    December 5, 2018 at 9:04 am

    Definitely depends on the airline, business class cabins doesn’t guarantee a pleasant flight, on a AA ROM-ORD flight in business, not only they changed equipment from lie-flat to angled, my partner’s food was inedible, even coffee was cold, crew could care less, according to our FA they had no more food or alternative, she ate an apple & chips on our 8+ hr flight.
    That’s the last I fly AA.

  15. petercascio

    December 5, 2018 at 8:02 pm

    Guess, it all ‘depends,’ as they say.

    An acquaintance of mine, a rather famous British actor, quite a few years ago was flying economy with a very close friend of mine on Britain’s ‘flag carrier’ between London and Paris, and when he asked if he could have another sandwich — when they came to top up beverages — was told quite curtly, “no, you can’t.” From then on he made sure that his agent called the ‘flag carrier’s’ press office a few weeks in advance to let them know that Mr. X would be flying with them, “just in case press were at the airport.” He got upgrades every time, of course, and not only extra sandwiches, but also extra caviar.

    Personally I’ve never had a problem getting extra food either in business or in economy, and in whatever class you are flying it pays to observe basic human decencies: greet the flight attendants when you board, be polite if you have a request, wait for the right moment, when they have time. That way I scored a business class meal transatlantic in economy one time after mentioning to the flight attendant taking my tray after dinner service that I was still quite hungry.

    Being polite, and smiling go a long way.

  16. lebelgo

    December 6, 2018 at 12:48 am

    I’ve never been hungry enough after being fed in business or 1st that I could take in any more food. Especially if you had any food at the airline lounge before boarding the plane. How hungry can one be?

  17. seattlebruce

    December 6, 2018 at 2:51 am

    Silly article. You can ask for seconds even if you’re in economy. You just need to be prepared to get no for an answer.

  18. deliciafelicia

    December 6, 2018 at 11:45 am

    of course, you can. me personally i prefer food on the ground. take a steak or roast chicken for example. personally and cheap pub does it better that in the plane. the staff in the BA gold know me and they know i always order another burger and put it in a tupperware because it better than any club europe meal

  19. AlastairGordon

    December 6, 2018 at 1:54 pm

    Shorter version of article:
    Q: “Is it OK to ask a flight attendant politely for anything at all, regardless of which class you are travelling in, with the full understanding that what you’re asking for might not be available?”
    A: “Yes”.

  20. pointchaser

    December 7, 2018 at 12:53 pm

    @mrman the author has flown routinely. I’m referring mostly to premium cabins, which are often better stocked. And it never hurts to ask.

    @flying_geek good point. Etihad does the same thing – dine on demand. I think in those situations there’s definitely more flexibility in terms of ordering seconds.

    @eng3 True! :)

    @edgewood49 I was definitely referring to long-haul premium cabin flights. Domestically, I can’t imagine most people being hungry enough to ask for seconds…

    @fotographer lol! True. But to be fair, if your entree is truly inedible, you might ask for a “second” one that isn’t so bad.

    @amnicoll well said.

    @peterk814 Thanks for the perspective.

    @Stephen25 I should have mentioned that. Sometimes you’re not ordering seconds to pig out but to swap an inedible entree for a better one.

    @legelgo well there’s nothing else to do on these long flights but eat and watch tv. :)

    @alastairGordon the short version doesn’t pay the bills. :)

  21. kkua

    December 14, 2018 at 12:53 pm

    The more appropriate questions should be if it’s OK to ask for uneaten extras. But most people think it’s asking for seconds from the passenger point of view. In my experience, it’s never an issue because the food will be tossed out once the plane lands.

  22. bonoglobetrotter

    December 24, 2018 at 2:23 am

    The other issue is whether you can dine on demand. This may be to help adjust yr body clock or just because you’ve eaten in the lounge and want to eat later. QR, CX are great at this; even MH and AA can be ok; BA are terrible.

    These days, BA will INSIST you eat as part of the regular service so the FAs can spend the rest of the flight reading magazines. Until you speak to the CSD then they *may* relent and make a big show of doing you a favour. This was never the case say 10 or 15 years ago with BA.

    In fact I wonder if this is something they agreed as part of their union negotiations? Does anyone know? Would to understand the context behind such a change in attitude. Thx.

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