Travel, wanderlust, journey, adventure are all terms that make you want to pack your stuff, hop on to the first flight and just flutter away to a new place. But in reality, there is a lot more that goes into this ‘fluttering away’. No no we’re not going to give you tips on traveling smart and packing light. It’s way more crucial than that – the food. More often than not we board flights famished and panting like a hungry pup, looking forward to what the lovely ladies in the uniform will serve us (and if I had a tail it would wag everytime the air hostess crossed my seat with a tray in hand) and more often than not we are greeted by unappetizing meals – we’re being super lenient here, by the way. Here are 15 airlines that defy all prejudices about inflight food.
What: “Marvellous Mac’N’Cheese” Kids Meal from Chef Lorraine Pascale
Finally something to keep the kids busy on a flight! Don’t get us wrong, we love them. But we love our peace too – especially thousands of feet above sea level! Virgin Atlantic recently called upon British celebrity chef Lorraine Pascale to develop “fresh, nutritious, and simple meals with a home-cooked feel” for children traveling in economy class. The “Marvellous Mac N Cheese” with pancetta is the far and away favorite, but children may also chose tender chicken strips and pea mash, sweet and sour pork, or “Mum’s chilli con carne” with calypso rice.
What: “Flight Bites” Tapas
Spanish tapas are the inspiration behind Virgin America’s boxed variety of light and fresh salads, complimentary to Main Cabin Select flyers and for sale in the main cabin. The selection changes with the seasons, but options have included edamame and ginger tartar with ponzu dressing, mozzarella and roasted tomato with capers, Lebanese chickpea salad, and Spanish chicken and artichoke salad.
What: Lasagna with Malbec and Flan
LAN’s Executive Chef Hugo Pantano develops the recipes for each main dish to pair best with the South American wines onboard, even in economy class. Order the lasagna and a pour of the Argentinean Malbec, and finish it off with sweet flan.
What: Hot Ham and Cheese Breakfast
Say god morning to the skies in style! An economy class breakfast on Chile-based LAN Airlines’ long-haul routes is more than a simple croissant and jam; the traditional South American breakfast of meats and cheeses is served as a hot ham and cheese sandwich with a side of seasonal fresh fruit and a hot berry muffin.
What: Ravioli and Dulce de Leche Cake
Like its partner airline LAN, Brazil’s TAM pairs comfort classics with South American flavors and full-bodied wines from some of their destination cities. No matter the main dish—although the ravioli pairs excellently with the reds on TAM’s wine menu—save room for the dulce de leche dessert.
What: Classic Arabic Mezze
From their base in Doha, Qatar Airways develops menus to showcase both international and Middle Eastern favorites. A passenger favorite around the world is the Arabic Mezze, served in all classes. Economy enjoys hummus, tabouleh, muhammara, and lahim bil agine served with Arabic bread.
What: Cascade Brisket Chili by Chef Tom Douglas
Tom Douglas is one of Seattle’s most visible and celebrated chefs. Now, his award-winning cuisine (he’s a three-time James Beard winner) can be found in the skies. Alaska Airlines recently began a partnership with Douglas to introduce some of his signature flavors as purchasable meals onboard flights from Seattle, of 2.5 hours or longer.
What: Sirloin Sandwich
Cross-country flights deserve a little something more than a tiny bag of potato chips, right? JetBlue gets it, offering several hearty sandwiches on their routes from New York-JFK and Boston to San Francisco, Los Angeles-LAX and Long Beach. One offering is this sirloin sandwich, made with top sirloin steak, red-wine caramelized onions, white cheddar, baby spring greens, and horseradish cream on a roll, with a side of quinoa and raisin salad.
What: Kale Salad
Beyond snack boxes of packaged sweet and salty treats, JetBlue’s transcontinental flights from New York-JFK and Boston to San Francisco, Los Angeles-LAX and Long Beach sell fresh-made meals. Some are even healthy—take this salad, which consists of cannellini beans, dried blueberries and cranberries, quinoa, and grape tomatoes over chopped kale and spring greens, topped with white balsamic vinaigrette.
What: Loco Moco
Read the name again, this one has to be good! As the only U.S. domestic airline still serving complimentary hot meals in economy, Hawaiian Airlines uses this as an opportunity to showcase signature Hawaiian dishes. One such iconic meal is “Loco Moco,” a hamburger patty over steamed white rice, topped with gravy and a sunny side up egg.
What: Hong Kong style Curry Chicken
Served with steamed jasmine rice, salad, and Häagen-Dazs ice cream for dessert, the curry chicken is one of several economy meals on Cathay to feature traditional Hong Kong flavors. Cathay also keeps various snacks, like hot ramen noodles, available throughout the journey.
What: Strawberry Frozen Yogurt
Free domestic meals in economy class aren’t completely gone from Delta, as the airline’s economy comfort passengers enjoy complimentary sandwiches and Luvo frozen yogurt bars on transcontinental flights from New York’s JFK Airport to Seattle, Los Angeles-LAX, and San Francisco.
What: Viennese Schnitzel
Upgrading your meal is an option on Austrian Airlines. God bless them! Economy passengers on long-haul flights may pre-order from a menu of gourmet meals (including classic Viennese Schnitzel with a chocolate mousse dessert) from the chefs of Vienna-based DO & CO. Passengers flying from Austrian’s hub at Vienna Airport may even place an order at the last minute, up to one hour before departure. Forget the Duty Free, this is what you should be doing at Vienna Airport!
What: Chicken Cobb Salad
On domestic flights longer than three hours, American Airlines sells a range of fresh eats more filling than a can of Pringles. The chicken Cobb salad combines thick slices of chicken breast with romaine lettuce, turkey bacon, corn, tomatoes, and bleu cheese, with ranch dressing on the side.
Air New Zealand
What: Red Wine Braised Beef with Polenta
A long flight to or from New Zealand is made better by economy-class menus from Air New Zealand’s Executive Chef Peter Gordon, a celebrated chef with restaurants in both London and Auckland who formulates the menus for each class. One such posing is this main course: red wine braised beef with blue cheese polenta and green beans.
Must get on a plane. Now.