Back in the day, one of the most overdone stand-up comedy lines was always So, what’s the deal with airline food? Due to the taste being zapped at 35,000 feet above sea level, the dishes that were served were typically bland, or per inverse, had way too much salt and spices added.
Fast forward to today, however, and the array of meals offered up on some of the world’s most prestigious airlines that rival that of Michelin-starred restaurants. Gone are the times where in-flight food was the comedy punching bag - the courses, whether in economy or first class, have done a full 360!
It should come as no surprise whatsoever that one of the world’s most revered and elite airlines makes its way onto this list. If you’re lucky (or, let’s face it, unquestionably rich) enough to nab a seat in first class, you’re even given the opportunity to order not one, not two, but a freshly-prepared seven-course meal.
The range of economy meals, while not quite as royal, is still sophisticated and elegant, with 400+ varying menus consistent of inviting ingredients such as smoked tuna, different kinds of vegetable salad, charcoal-grilled lamb, thick date pudding for dessert, and plenty more to satisfy your palate.
When it comes to overall quality, hygiene, and taste, the food onboard a Qatar Airlines flight is always sitting in the top echelon. While the quality level of ingredients remains high, the menu is constantly changing in order to suit passenger’s cultural, health, spice, and flavor preferences.
Aside from the highly-rated menus on its countless flight, Qatar Airlines has been turning heads for a number of years for its impeccable overall service. If you ever have the opportunity to fly in first class or business class, you’ll think that your plane went all the way to heaven.
8 Etihad Airways
Sliding into the third spot on our list is none other than the illustrious Etihad Airways, making it a hat-trick for the United Arab Emirates-based airlines. As a company synonymous with luxury travel, it should come as no surprise to any to realize that the dishes offered up to its passengers are top-shelf, to say the least.
It might be hard to believe but food can actually be prepared onboard the Etihad planes (well, for the upper-class passengers), including fresh beef cuts, tastye lamb, juicy chicken, and an array of seafood dishes.
7 Turkish Airlines
It might come as a bit of a surprise to see Turkish Airlines making its way onto this list considering that it’s been dominated thus far by the elite Middle-Eastern airlines, however, rest assured that your tastebuds will go wild on the national flag carrier airline of Turkey.
With over 300 flight routes to destinations scattered across Europe, Asia, Africa, and North, Central, and South America, you might find yourself squeezed into a Turkish airlines window seat a little sooner than you initially thought. Most reviews of the food, regardless of cabin section, are relatively good, with the kofta touted as a highlight
6 Air New Zealand
With multiple awards for service, food, and drink under its belt, Air New Zealand has hardly put a foot wrong during its time in the sky. The sumptuous menu is the brainchild of one of New Zealand’s most famous and loved chefs, Peter Gordon, who has spearheaded in-flight dishes such as the protein-rich main course of a delectable red wine braised beef, served alongside blue cheese polenta and green beans.
As an airline (and as a country, in fact), New Zealand is rather proud of its wines too. So if flying across the pacific with them, the lovely cabin crew will happily come around with a tray of some of the nation’s best blends for you to sample with your meal.
5 Air France
Considering that the beautiful French nation, aside from its Iron Lady, is known for its top-quality wines, cheeses, pastries, and overall gastronomy, if the airline even represented half of the country’s food and drink potential, it would still stake its claim as one of the world's best.
With vintage Bordeaux reds galore and authentic foie gras to accompany, plus an assortment of light cheeses, meats, sweet pastries, and chocolates, there’s no shortage when it comes to mouth-watering snacks on board. If you’re traveling to France with this company, the meals will be a perfect introduction to French cuisine.
In the real of authentic Australian cuisine, there isn’t a whole lot to choose from. There’s Tim Tams, of course, which are made to be slammed, and chicken parmas, kangaroo steaks, and a classic meat pie. Qantas, however, doesn’t offer too many of these classic Aussie delicacies, bar the Rockpool steak, which is a revered, delectable in-flight dish designed by Aussie chef Neil Perry.
The Australian-based carrier is actually world-renowned Chef, Heston Blumenthal’s favorite airline to travel on, which should say just enough about the quality of the food. Qantas might not be the cheapest airline en route to and from Australia but its reputation is growing.
3 Singapore Airlines
If we were to describe Singapore Airline’s range of in-flight food in one word, it’s hard to go past lavish. Unlike the majority of airlines, whether low-cost or incredible fancy, Singapore actually offers its travelers the opportunity to order their meals well in advance. They call it “Book the Cook”, and it’s been a rather successful novelty thus far.
With a balanced variety of Western, Asian, and ethnic dishes on offer, Singapore Airlines provides a constantly changing menu of 50+ combinations. So far it is yet to put a foot wrong, and despite the fact that altitude dampens flavor, you’d never realize onboard Singapore.
2 Thai Airways
Based out of Thailand, a country booming with flavors and tantalizing tastes, Thai Airways dishes up what they refer to as the ‘Royal First’ taste experience, and they’re rather proud of it too. It includes all kinds of delectable meals, including but not limited to Lobster Thermidor served with Duchess potatoes, Glass Noodles Pad Thai, egg omelet salads,
They boast an array of “seasonal ingredients and fresh produce from sustainable sources”, with each meal “designed to please all your senses.” (Thai Airways). With that much care and personal touch put into each meal, we’re sold.
1 Swiss International
If a cute serving of homemade muesli alongside a crème brülée cheesecake doesn’t get your mouth watering, then a flight on the illustrious Swiss International isn’t for you. For those who love that idea and can’t wait to hear more of what’s on the menu, however, the Switzerland-based carrier is sure to impress from the get-go.
The menu takes inspiration from the authentic cuisine of the Swiss Alpine region, offering up an array of delicious meats, Swiss cheeses, fancy chocolates, and locally-produced alcoholic beverages. For the foodies who appreciate the finer things, Swiss won’t disappoint.