Dining in the air
In-flight meals - a blessing or a curse?
We have long heard of those horror stories cautioning us against eating airline meals - the bread rolls are stale, fruits taste bland and is that my stirfried chicken or what?
Most in-flight meals are first prepared in catering centres near airports, then loaded onto aircrafts and heated up right before being rolled out onto service trolleys. As food preparation and cooking takes place on the ground, you can be rest assured that these meals meet quality and hygiene standards. After all, imagine the horror if an airline serves contiminated meals - mass food poisoning, loss of brand image and subsequent implications on other timed flights, their true nightmare.
Is it yucky or just me?
Did you know that flying does have an effect on the smell and taste of food and drinks?
For one, aircraft cabins are filled with too dry air, whereby this lack of humidity and moisture in the atmosphere actually reduces our nose's smell and taste sensitivity. As such, flavorful essentials like salt and sugar are perceived to be almost 20% less intense while at high altitudes. Thankfully, experienced airline chefs who understand how the intensity of different flavours play out are able to successfully create dishes that are still tasty.
Of course, the quality and type of meals prepared do differ between short-haul and long-haul airlines, as well as between low-cost carriers and full-service airlines. After all, we pay for what we get and dining onboard world-class airlines (even the Economy meals) is vastly distinct as compared to budget airlines.
In today's society, we are becoming increasingly aware and particular about what we eat due to a handful of reasons. Fortunately, airlines have learnt how to roll with the times and most do cater to diets with some of the following special requirements:
- Religious beliefs: halal and kosher meals
- Medical issues: low salt/ calories/ sugar choices
- Intolerances - dairy free options
- Personal preferences: vegan and vegeterian alternatives
Pssst, as most airlines serve special meals first, feel free to make use of this opportunity to try out a new diet.
Business & First Class
To those who fly in luxury, not only do your Business and First Class upgrades come with greater legroom, reclining seats, as well as exclusive access to bars and lounges, you are also offered meal options of a higher standard. Plus, airlines typically spare no expense in providing the best flight experience for their Business and First Class travellers - menus and meals in these 2 Classes are either created or prepared by renowned Michelin starred chefs.
Here are the 5 best airline Business & First Class catering in the world:
Remember to wipe that drool, ok?
1. ANA All Nippon Airways
As expected of Japan's largest airline, ANA enlists the services of several Japanese masterchefs to bring fine Japanese dining experiences to travellers - 30,000 feet in the sky. Desserts are also prepared by Pierre Hermé, who is the World's Best Pastry Chef and known as the 'Picasso of Pastry'.
2. Qatar Airways
As expected of the World's Best Business Class, [Qatar Airways](/en/airlines/qatar-airways) spares no effort in spoiling its travellers. From delectable cheese platters to luxury sharing platters, passengers are promised a culinary journey while onboard.
3. Hainan Airlines
China's Hainan Airlines serves its Business travellers authentic Chinese cuisine alongside elegant bone china and fine cutlery, providing them with a truly luxurious dining experience. Plus, they also offer daily specials, giving passengers the opportunity to try out local domestic delicacies when flying short-haul within China.
[Austrian Airlines](/en/airlines/austrian-airlines) recruits the services of DO & CO, one of the world's best caterers to ensure that all its Business travellers are satisfied with their in-flight meals. Besides soup and appetizers, passengers get to opt between an array of main course choices and a fine selection of desserts and cheese - promising a gastronomic delight.
[Turkish Airlines](/en/airlines/turkish-airlines) extends an invitation to its Business travellers, to an "elegant restaurant in the skies". There, you will be presented with mouthwatering selections of lamb chops, beef tenderloin, swordfish skewers or sea bass and many more. However, you absolutely have to try out their traditional Turkish delights available in-flight such as Mantı Turkish ravioli or Gözleme traditional grilled flat pastry stuffed with cheese.
1. Air France
The La Première cabin is Air France's First Class cabin and it promises travellers with menu creations by the crème de la crème of French chefs. Plus, get a taste of French fine dining while in the air with Air France's team of Michelin-starred chef Jean-François Rouquette and other talented French chefs.
[Singapore Airlines'](/en/airlines/singapore-airlines) international culinary panel certainly lives up to its name - with 8 celebrated chefs hailing from 8 different cities all over the globe. Onboard, you will certainly be delighted by the choice of both local dishes such as chicken rice or luxurious flavours like lobster thermidor and grilled lamb cutlets.
Chefs onboard [Etihad Airways](/en/airlines/etihad-airways) pride on their passion for cooking, coupled with their extensive training to emphasize on their ability to deliver top notch culinary expertise to its passengers. Onboard, First Class travellers are offered lavish caviar appetiser courses, cheese boards, traditional Arabic dishes and fresh seafood options.
4. ANA All Nippon Airways
ANA is back to offer its First Class travellers an exquisite myraid of flavours by only using the finest Japanese ingredients such as snow crab and tuna, allowing the savoury of these classy delicacies while in the air.
5. Oman Air
Image credit: thepointsguy.
Oman Air is Oman's national airline and offers on-demand dining in their First Class cabins. Flying in luxury with Oman Air will offer you a treat of traditional Arabic dishes, caviar courses and delicate desserts like panna cotta.
What are you waiting for? If you ever decide to give yourself a well-deserved treat, do try out the above airlines and the world-class standard dishes they have to offer!