Hot food on domestic flights is almost a thing of the past, but if you’re flying overseas you’re still likely to get at least one full meal. And on those flights, you might just get a cold roll with some even colder butter.


I was always frustrated by airplane butter because I could never spread it on the bread. And as minor as this sounds, it seems to be something that comes up on pretty much all my overseas flights.

But then I discovered a simple trick: Use the heat from the hot part of the meal to soften the butter and warm the bread. Like this:


I’ve tried this the past few times I’ve flown internationally and it has made a big difference. Here a few few tips:

• Open the butter wrapper; once it’s soft it can be messy if it’s not partially unwrapped.

• Don’t put the butter under the hot part of the meal, as it will melt and make a mess.

• Once you lay out the bread and butter, eat the salad (or whatever first course the meal includes) while waiting for everything to get warm.

• Break the bread open; the heat from the hot course probably won’t be enough to heat the bread all the way through.

The only downside of this trick is that you’re putting the outside of the heated container directly in contact with the food, which theoretically exposes it to germs. Still, I’ve never run into any problems, and travel is supposed to be an adventure anyway.

In any case, this little trick has resulted in a small but noticeable improvement in the otherwise uncomfortable experience of traveling coach on long, overseas flights.


— Jim Dalrymple II


Written by Jim Dalrymple II

Urbanism and travel writer. Also a journalist covering the news.


  1. This is a great idea! Such a simple trick that I’ll sure makes all the difference. I hardly ever eat the bread they give because it’s usually cold and the butter never spreads, so this will totally fix that problem! I will certainly be remembering this on my next long flight. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  2. Haha, that’s more than just cool. As someone flying over 100 times a year, I never though about this little trick. Yet, it’s so easy and intelligent. Thanks a lot for sharing 🙂

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