Our wishlist has regional favorites made with locally-sourced produce.
In-flight meals don’t have the best reputation, especially in economy class. Passengers often complain that food tastes stale and flavorless and sometimes isn’t even packed well. A major reason for this is that meals are prepared on the ground and reheated on the plane. Plus, the recipes used at ground level taste very different when you’re dining in the clouds.
But airlines have made major strides in enhancing the dining experience for travelers across the board. Now we know how our taste and smell get affected when we’re flying, airlines are using this information to do better with meals. From collaborating with Michelin-star chefs to sourcing produce locally and changing the packaging, the culinary journey is somewhat different. And after the pandemic, it has gone through more changes. Traveling is back in our life and we can’t wait to get our hands on these tempting in-flight meals.
Top Picks for You
Swiss Air Lines
Local wines, Swiss cheeses, premium chocolates—Swiss Air Lines is big on seasonal and local ingredients. For Business and First Class long-haul passengers, the airline has invited celebrated chefs with Michelin-starred restaurants to curate their menu that changes every three months. Economy passengers also get to sample a taste of Swiss with hot meals and chocolates and cheeses. The a la carte menu has six dishes that can be pre-booked, including Swiss Prime Beef Burger and Swiss Traditional Meal.
What we’d like to try: Vegetarian special meal from the a la carte menu. It includes Hiltl tartare, vegetable green curry with basmati rice, mango mousse with fresh mango compote. What’s so special about it? It has been created by the oldest vegetarian restaurant in the world, Hiltt, which is based in Zurich.
In December last year, Singapore Airlines changed the meal concept for economy passengers on short-haul flights. Now travelers get a choice between two mains (Western, regional, or local specialties) from a smorgasbord of 40 dishes on rotation across different routes. The best part? Everything is served in leak-proof, eco-friendly packaging that can hold soups and gravies just fine, with bamboo cutlery to reduce single-use plastic waste.
What we’d like to try: The menu with 40 new dishes seems tempting, and on our minds are three comforting dishes: laksa, mee siam, and banana sugee cake.
If you’re pampering yourself with a business class ticket on Cathay Pacific, then you’re in for a treat. The Hong Kong-based airline has an amazing menu with local favorites and Häagen-Dazs ice cream on many flights. It has partnered with restaurants in the country and also offers a variety of vegetarian options. Business-class passengers on long-haul flights can pre-book their meals.
What we’d like to try: Mak’s signature wonton noodles in soup, which is created in partnership with popular Cantonese restaurant Mak’s Noodle. Another must-try is Pak Loh Chiu Chow Restaurant’s fishball and fried fish cake with flat rice noodles in soup and spicy chili oil.
The UK-based carrier has collaborated with Michelin-starred chef Tom Kerridge to bring quintessential British food on board. The Tom Kerridge special menu is available to pre-order from the Speedbird Cafe for Euro Traveller (short-haul economy) passengers.
What we’d like to try: the vegan spiced cauliflower and chickpea wrap, and the classic pub food, steak and ale pie. The afternoon tea, which is a long-standing tradition in the country, is another service we’re excited about. It comes with a sultana scone, cream, and strawberry preserve (tea is actually extra—something that didn’t go down well with passengers).
Emirates’ passengers are treated well when it comes to food. There are regional offerings and international dishes on the menu for all travelers and the Dubai-based carrier goes above and beyond to make the experience special for everyone. For $43, economy class passengers can pre-order a cake and champagne to celebrate on board. For business and first class passengers, summer brings specials such as burrata and tomatoes, and strawberry eclairs (on some routes).
What we’d like to try: Emirates’ exclusive Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage 2013, Arabic dips, and Bzar chicken made with traditional Arabic spice marinade and served with rice, fried onions, and pistachio—served in Business and First Class.
Last year, Virgin Atlantic stopped alcohol sales and introduced Fly Safe, Eat Well boxed meals in their economy and premium cabins. Upper Class customers had their food delivered to their seat on a tray. Now it has brought back welcome drinks and hand-plated meals for its Upper Class passengers and a selection of wines and beers for Premium and Economy. The spring menus have new additions after the minimized service of 2020.
What we’d like to try: Eric Lanlard Mile High Tea that’s designed by French chef and patissier Eric Lanlard. It’s served in all cabins and features sandwiches and scones with jam and cream. Premium passengers get a choice of Prosecco or hot drink while the Upper Class passengers can have a deli dish or a lighter option.
On European flights, Austrian Airlines will have a much wider selection of meals for its economy passengers. It has launched Austrian Melangerie, a new concept with Austrian snacks, dishes, beverages, and sweets—all made with locally sourced, high-quality ingredients. From 2021, economy passengers no longer have to make do with a sandwich or a cake (sweet or salty?) on short flights. They can buy Austrian favorites on board and there’s also a complimentary chocolate treat for all.
What we’d like to try: Austrian classics like Viennese schnitzel, sachertorte (chocolate cake), apple strudel, and Wiener melange (coffee).