Hi Frugalistas! My travel blogger friends are back. This time they’re not talking packing tips, or safety tips. No, this time we are getting down to the oh so serious business of airline meals. The good, the bad and the just plain weird, join me on a trip around the world in airline meals.
Amuse bouches on ANA Business Class
Stefan and Sebastien from the Nomadic Boys were fortunate enough to enjoy their first flight in Business Class this year. And they chose a good one for their first time – ANA Business Class:
We flew business class with All Nippon Airways (ANA) earlier this year on ANA Boeing 777-300 on our way back to London from Tokyo (12.5 hours) and loved every second.
ANA is Japan’s largest airline – rated not only as one of the seven 5-star Airlines by Skytrax, its business class was rated as the fourth best in the world at the 2015 World Airline Awards. The meal service is high class. Menus have been selected by THE CONNOISSEURS, a group of master chefs and wine experts from outside and inside Japan. For the first meal, you have a choice of the Washoku Japanese Cuisine or the International Cuisine.
Our favourite was the delicious Amuse-Bouches, which consisted of sweet glazed walnuts, young bamboo shoots aspic with okra puree, uncured beef ham and artichoke, cornichon brochette and marinated herring, feta cheese and semi-dried tomato. Washed down with (a few) glasses of champagne, it is goooooood!
Square Mystery Food on a Mystery Airline
Sometimes airline food can be a bit, well, cryptic…….Danielle from Like Riding a Bicycle decided mystery food was definitely the way to go – if you are wanting to build a fort on board!
This very square shaped meal was given to me on the flight between Bangkok to Shanghai last January on a Chinese airline whose name escapes me. Supposedly the square on the right is fish. The square on the left is mystery green dessert. Who doesn’t love green dessert? At least building a fort out of this food would be delightfully easy with their square shape!
Chocolate Mousse Cake on Singapore Airlines A380 First Class Suites
From the slightly ridiculous anonymous squares to the decadence that only comes at the pointy end of the plane. Matilda from the Travel Sisters nominated the delightfully decadent Singapore Airlines First Class as her choice (although personally, I’m loving the teddy too!):
My best (and largest) airline meal was aboard Singapore Airlines Suites Class (first class). This was no simple airline meal. Our lunch consisted of multiple courses- canapés, appetisers, soup, salad, main course and dessert. Upon boarding we were presented with an extensive menu and we were encouraged to order everything and anything we wanted. I ended up ordering every course and I ate until I could no longer eat any more. The entire meal was decadent and delicious but the highlights for me were the main course of grilled tournedos of beef and the Belgium chocolate mousse cake for dessert.
Real Cutlery and Table Clothes on KLM Business Class
Many people who don’t fly Business Class often marvel at the “little things” at meal time. Like real cutlery, table clothes and bone china. Heather from Conversant Traveller was no exception on her flight on KLM Business Class:
Hubby and I joked that our experience flying Business Class on the KLM Dreamliner from Amsterdam to Rio de Janeiro might be the best part of the holiday. We weren’t far wrong. The food was a pleasant surprise. Not only did it come with real cutlery, condiment sets and as many glasses of bubbly we could take, we also had our own table cloths! And a wine list.
My favourite course was the starter, a restaurant class spinach and coconut soup, with a selection of mixed leaves, various toppings and bread with dipping oil. Never have I felt so smug. A plate of braised veal with mashed potatoes and vegetables was up next, which although looked a little like a school dinner, was full of flavour. We finished with a choice of fresh fruits and Japanese style mousse. And of course some more fizz. Definitely the best airline meal we’ve ever experienced.
Going Middle Eastern on Turkish Airlines
Katharina from A Life Beautifully Travelled loves to watch her budget, but still managed to find decent, authentic airline food on Turkish Airlines Economy Class:
Last September, my boyfriend and I traveled to Japan. In order to save some money we decided to fly with Turkish Airways in Economy Class. Turkish Airlines has a reputation of offering very good food in all service classes.
Upon departure we were offered a menu including all the meals, drinks and options available. The dietary choices are pretty much the same as on any long flight; low calorie, Hindu, vegetarian, vegan, lactose-free, etc. Supper was served right after take-off from Istanbul. Having no specific dietary requirement we ended up having the choice between two main dishes for dinner. Both were Mediterranean inspired. My boyfriend opted for the minced lamb with mash and vegetables, while I chose chicken, rice and vegetables. We were also served two side dishes, a roll with butter, dessert and a drink of our choice. While the meal was nothing exceptional, we were still pretty pleased with the quality and taste.
Interestingly enough Turkish Airways distribute bottled water to all passengers right after supper service. This comes in very handy for a long haul flight and I believe that more airlines should do this.
We were served breakfast the next morning, just before landing. Again it was inspired by the local Turkish cuisine and tasted pretty good.
Breakfast on the Singapore Airlines A380 First Class Suites
Mar from Once in a Lifetime Journey is another fan of the Singapore Airlines First Class Suites, and seriously, with a foodie experience like she had, what is not to love?
On a recent flight to New York City I decided to upgrade my Business Class ticket to Suites and get to experience Singapore Airlines’ famous product. Aside from having your own private room complete with a sliding door, you also have your own flight attendant ready to bring you food or drinks anytime. There is no food service, but instead, an in-flight chef and a set of dishes you can order anytime you feel hungry. Needless to say, I indulged. From the lobster at the Private Room exclusive Suites Lounge before take off to the unlimited Krug and Dom Perignon champagne onboard, my personal in-flight attendant made sure my glass was topped and my stomach filled with premium goodies.
Perhaps the part I liked the most was breakfast. Since the flight is 23h long with a stop in Frankfurt, I got to have pre-dinner, dinner, supper, breakfast and lunch, all made to order. Breakfast included some delicious waffles with cream, syrup and fresh strawberries followed by this wonderful set of poached eggs with bacon and ham, how could I resist? And it all looked so beautiful!
Vegetarian Options on Emirates
Michela from Rocky Travel Blog is a frequent traveller who is vegetarian. And the options apparently are not always great……..
As a vegetarian I often find myself struggling with food, in fact choosing a special meal is not easy at all. First of all you don’t know what to expect. And most of times the food you get on planes leaves much to desire.
I had a vegetarian meal on my last flight to Dubai that wasn’t bad. I couldn’t imagine that the second meal was far from that standard; it didn’t really look like human food and I couldn’t eat it. So while I was starving myself, I tried to get the attention of a steward and begged for something else. He came back with a pear as hard as a stone but I didn’t dare complain, I gulped it as I hadn’t seen food for a long time. While I always have small snacks with me, I believe it is legitimate to expect a decent meal onboard. So to calm down my frustration I started peering through my neighbours tablets to see how their meals looked like. One guy had a meal that looked good, he told me it was a diabetes special meal. To self: remember that for the next flight. All standard meals looked way better. So my conclusion: I think airlines should really work on the food offer in the economy class, especially with regards to special meals.
Pre-ordering on Air Asia
If you fly on discount airlines you would know that if you want to eat you need to pre-order your meal. So you can’t check out the options from the row in front during the meal service. Talon from One Dad One Kid accepted the challenge and ordered the chicken masala……
I went in with very low expectations. When I opened the container, it sure seemed like those expectations had been met. However, it actually tasted pretty good. I ended up ordering it again on other flights.
Qantas A330 Domestic Business Class
The Sydney to Perth route in Australia is highly competitive. Both Qantas and Virgin Australia pull out the stops to tempt their premium customers with what is really better than many airline’s international business class offerings. Lyn from The Travelling Lindfields suffers in the name of research to give us the low down….
They say being at 40,000 ft makes food taste bland. If so, the Neil Perry designed menu on our QANTAS A330 flight from Sydney to Perth has overcome the problem admirably. The Business Class food is worthy of any of Sydney’s better lunch time cafes. We have a choice of two entrees and four mains served on white table cloths, with a selection of Australian wines. The broccoli and blue cheese soup is particularly enticing and seduces me to break my diet -yet again. I follow with a Korean seared beef noodle salad telling myself a lighter main will make up for the richness of the entre. I am sure I am deluding myself but having a pleasant lunch at cruising altitude is an experience to be enjoyed.
Children’s meals on Japan Airlines
We’ve been fortunate to fly Japan Airlines Business Class when MissG was much younger, so we know their children’s meals really are a treat for junior flyers. I can’t help thinking how much more adventurous Along for the Trip’s Carrick‘s kids are compared to the always fussy MissG…..
Japan Airlines is known for excellent food and service, so we jumped at the chance to fly with them to Tokyo in business class this past spring. Passengers are offered either western or eastern style menus, and since we always encourage the kids to try something new, Andrew and I went with the Japanese menu. It’s a collection of small plates ranging from seafood and traditional vegetables to beef and pork dishes. Ala carte options include steaming noodle bowls, fruit selections, and sweets. The kids received special treat bags, and it was all served up with impeccable Japanese service. It was an amazing experience!
Vegetarian on Qatar Airways Business Class
I fly Business Class regularly, but never order vegetarian, so I was intrigued with Sabrina of Just One Way Ticket’s choice for this post…..
On a recent flight from Bangkok to Atlanta, I was fortunate enough to fly business class with Qatar Airways. The award-winning airline has very high standards when it comes to on-board cuisine. All passengers in business class enjoy an á la carte menu and can select at any time, from a three course meal or just a snack. There are plenty of options.
I was impressed about their vegetarian and vegan choices. Even though I preordered already vegetarian in advance (and they had already something prepared for me) they told me I could still choose anything else from the menu as well. Loved it!
Every meal I had was delicious, it was a real culinary experience in the sky.
5 Star food on Hainan Airlines
Josh from Go Travel Your Way is a real avgeek, so it comes as no surprise that he’s on an inaugural flight at the pointy end of the plane…
In August 2016 I was invited on Hainan Airlines inaugural flight from Beijing to Calgary. I was pretty excited about going to Canada and to finally visit Banff National Park which is located only an hour drive from the city. On my flight to Canada I flew Hainan Airlines, one of the few 5-Star carriers out there. The service was outstanding and the food even better. For breakfast I was served this Bacon wrapped chicken breast with a side of potato wedges. It was super fresh and juicy. It’s exactly what I needed after a solid 6 hour sleep I had in the middle of the flight. Cool Airline, with a lovely crew and great food!
Vegan meal on KLM Economy Comfort
We haven’t explored premium economy, and we haven’t explored vegan options, but Lauren from Justin Plus Lauren is about to fix that….
When I fly, I request vegan food in advance to receive meals prepared without any animal products. My favorite meal to date was the one I received flying Economy Comfort on KLM. The meal was slightly upgraded from the one I received during the KLM flight in regular Economy Class.
For dinner, my meal included tempeh (a fermented soy product from Indonesia) with coconut rice and curried vegetables. I also received a small green salad, a small fruit salad, and a dinner roll with margarine. On this same eight-hour flight, I also ate an afternoon snack: a vegan empanada, vegan vanilla pudding, and fruit salad. I was impressed with the quality and variety of food, especially for someone with dietary restrictions.
Going Malaysian on Malaysia Airlines Economy
Chris from The World and His Tuk Tuk is a real fan of the local dishes on Asian airlines, except for one “small” thing……
The food on our recent economy-class flights with Malaysia Airlines (featured in the Guardian’s wrap of airline meals ) was surprisingly decent. But perhaps I ought to be less surprised, given I find the fare served on Asian airlines almost always superior to that of European carriers.
I’m always one for opting for the airline’s local option in the hope of a better meal, so I was gutted when I just missed the last serving of beef rendang on the way home (I let my boyfriend have that one, but made sure I tried it – delicious!) I was left with a chicken fillet in a creamy sauce with mashed potato, which could have been a lot worse but was certainly closer to the bland food served on many western carriers.
Desserts were pretty decent, too, but my one gripe with Malaysia’s food is the portion sizes. These were small across the board, with the second serving (the nasi lemak on our return trip) billed only as a ‘light meal before landing’ – not much to sustain you on a 13-hour flight, and served some 10 hours after the first round.
British Airways goes Middle Eastern
Shobha from Just Go Places – Family Travel Blog flew from London to Dubai on British Airways First Class and decided to get into the Middle Eastern spirit early with this fab looking mezze plate…..
Perfect beef on Cathay Pacific First Class
I must admit, every time I order beef on a plane it always disappoints me. Debra from Travelling Well for Less was more fortunate than I’ve been – perfect beef, courtesy of Cathay Pacific’s First Class…..
Fruit Salad on Air Canada Business Class
And finally my own choice? Well, I’m featuring the fruit salad I enjoyed on Air Canada. Air Canada doesn’t have the best airline food I’ve ever eaten, but this fruit salad put every other airline meal fruit salad to shame. No anaemic looking pineapple. No hard (sometimes even crunchy) melon. No grapes full of pips. This fruit salad was generous, colourful, bright, fresh and, dare I say it…..tasty.
All other airlines please take note: this is the standard by which an airline meal fruit salad is now judged.
What’s your best and worst airline food experience? I’d love you to share in the comments below.