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Impossible meals? The food and meal situation of flight attendants in Scandinavia – A qualitative interview study
- Nyberg, Maria, Lennernäs Wiklund, Maria
- Appetite 2017 v.113 pp. 162-171
- beverages, hunger, ingestion, interviews, organization of work, planning, risk, work schedules, working conditions, Scandinavia
- The working conditions of flight attendants (FAs) often involve extended and irregular working hours, short rest periods, difficulties in planning for breaks and high demands of service provision. Moreover, work schedules including early check-in, shifts during circadian low and time-zone transitions imply constant exposure to alterations in circadian systems and related health risks. The aim of this explorative study was to investigate how the organisation of work, time and place influence the food and meal situation of FAs when at work, focusing on patterns, form and social context of meals. The research questions posed were how food and meals at work were characterised and perceived among the FAs, and what strategies were adopted to manage the food and meal situation. Qualitative, semi-structured interviews were conducted with fourteen FAs working in Scandinavia. The results indicated that the organisation of work, time and place have a major influence on the meal situation at work, and how food and meals are perceived and managed by FAs. The work was defined as fragmented and inconsistent regarding time and place resulting in scattered meals and a more snack-based form of eating. The meal situation was characterised by irregularity as well as unpredictability. Eating took place when food was available and when there was enough time to eat, rather than being guided by hunger or social context. Various strategies such as eating in prevention, using emergency food, avoiding certain food and drinks or eating little or nothing at all were used to manage the unpredictability of the meal situation as well as the gap between organisational and individual times. The findings demonstrated the individual responsibility to solve the meal at work, e.g. to solve organisational times.