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Today’s inflight dining options are offering healthier choices and more distinctive culinary experiences
After many months of global pandemic that sidelined inflight food services aboard most airlines, airline inflight menus are making a comeback – and with some twists. As carriers work to lure back those all-important premium travelers, airline food selections are becoming healthier, more varied, more diverse and more sustainable.
Upping the culinary game at 35,000 feet is a constant balancing act between customer demand, limitations of weight and space and sourcing products at far-flung destinations. But for some airlines and their customers, the effort pays off as inflight meals become a celebrated part of the luxury travel experience.
“Inflight meals must do far more than keep you satisfied,” Antony McNeil, director of food and beverage at Singapore Airlines, told Business Traveler USA. “They are designed to create a moment of service with our cabin crew, to entertain you, to provide a taste of home or a bit of indulgence.”
For premium travelers looking to indulge, we’ve put together a quick roundup of four of the latest inflight offerings.
As the airline with the best cuisine in business class in last year’s Best of Business Travel Awards, Singapore Airlines inflight menus have an established reputation for noteworthy onboard gourmet dining.
“Whether it’s an elegant caviar service, an iconic Champagne or fine wine, or a time-tested classic like Lobster Thermador,” McNeil said, “for Singapore Airlines, providing a superior inflight dining experience has always been an expression of our brand, and a cornerstone of our service delivery.”
The latest iteration of that brand commitment is a partnership with San Diego-based destination wellness retreat Golden Door that brings a menu of health-focused meals, exercise and well-being options.
This in addition to the carrier’s existing line of dishes from its International Culinary Panel, its exclusive Book the Cook program and other offerings.
“These include steelhead trout that are sustainably raised in land-based aquaponic farms, the world’s best cheeses from the Rogue River Valley in the Pacific Northwest, and the world’s freshest inflight produce from indoor, vertical farms just miles from our US airports, among other new features,” McNeil explained.
“We welcome the return of both corporate and leisure travelers, and are introducing a range of new culinary offerings to enhance their flights.”
Delta Air Lines
Delta is plotting several different menu moves, partnering with US restaurants such as “fast-fine” restaurant Souvla, New York’s Union Square Events and LA chefs Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo.
In March, the airline also introduced five new dishes with plant-based products from Impossible Foods and Black Sheep Foods on select flights of 900 miles or more. Features include a green chili spice rubbed Impossible Burger with caramelized onion jam and Manchego cheese, or Black Sheep Foods’s lamb-style meatballs with spinach rice and feta.
Even as Delta transatlantic partner Virgin Atlantic previews its new leisure-focused A350 experience, the carrier has also launched changes to its current inflight dining experience, including the option for premium customers to pre-select meals between 72 and 24 hours before departure.
In addition the carrier has launched a new menu, with highlighted dishes including hot smoked salmon, truffle butter breaded chicken and garlic ginger prawn curry. Upper class also offers dishes such as garlic and stir-fried oriental chicken, chicken achari curry, and pork and parmesan meatballs on selected routes.
For Upper Class passengers Virgin’s ‘Mile High Tea’ has received “an upgrade,” with burgers, superfood salads and crab cakes available alongside the cream tea.
Qatar Airways is rolling out new menu offerings aboard its North American flights, inspired by the 13 gateway cities the carrier serves in the US and Canada.
The menus, created by Mary-Jane Bonnaud, the carrier’s first female head chef, include selections like American beef short ribs with jus, purple potato mash and sautéed vegetables on the Seattle, Philadelphia and Washington, DC, services.
On flights from New York, Chicago and Los Angeles options range from sea bass with black rice, bok choy and soy sauce to a Philly cheese steak panini. And customers on Montreal flights will be offered dishes such as gravlax salmon carpaccio with dill, ginger, shallots and fried capers or a Montreal pastrami bagel.
“We worked to balance tradition and innovation to create a menu that will encourage travelers to rethink what dining inflight can look like,” Bonnaud explained.
From his first flight as a kid aboard an Ozark Airlines DC3 (does anybody remember Ozark?) to his many recent around-the-world jaunts as a travel writer and editor, Dan is a travelin’ man at heart. Whether it’s the latest jetliners or antique steam trains, there’s something about the joy of the journey that has always drawn him.
Dan is the editorial director of Business Traveler USA and Business Travel Executive magazines. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri, one of the world’s most prestigious journalism schools; his Master’s Degree is in television and film; and he combines this impressive educational background with 30 years’ experience in print, radio, television, advertising and academics, including the last eight years with Business Traveler.
On the rare occasions when he’s not ticking global destinations off his bucket list, Dan enjoys time with his grandkids, and works on projects around his North Carolina home.
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