The first inflight meal was served in 1919 on a Handley-Page airplane from London to Paris. It has been an entire decade since, and a lot has changed in the culinary world of air travel.
When we book a ticket aboard an airline, airplane food is the last thing we look forward to, and there’s a scientific reason why. At high altitudes, our taste buds simply behave differently. The combination of the dry air in airplanes that suppresses our nasal passages and our appreciation of smell, and the practice of reheating food that was prepared hours before, completely alter how we experience food up in the air. This leads to airline chefs adding supplementary salt and sugar to heighten the flavor of airplane meals.
Some airlines walk the extra mile. Instead of simply adding more seasoning to generic meats, sandwiches, and pasta, they collaborate with the world’s best chefs to create lavish and delectable meals that could compete with some of the finest Michelin-starred food available across the globe. Scroll below to see our list of the top 10 airlines that serve the most luxurious meals.
10 All Nippon Airways
With the expertise of over 20 gourmet chefs and sommeliers, All Nippon Airways promises to ‘open new frontiers in the art of dining 30,000 feet in the sky.’
A typical multi-course meal on an international flight for first class passengers would include options such as white asparagus with crab, pan-fried alfonsino with shrimp-flavored sauce, and multiple dessert options. You can even select meals from their light dishes selection featuring entrees such as Tonkotsu ramen, as well as Green pea and fresh chèvre cheese ravioli.
9 Qatar Airways
Qatar Airways launched its new premium onboard dining experience in 2018, introducing regional influences to their favorite dishes. Whether you’re traveling to Italy or Dubai, you can enjoy regional flavors such as porcini and truffle risotto, along with biryani and flame-grilled meats.
If you’re watching those calories, Qatar Airways offers some of the most delicious, yet calories conscious meals available on airlines. You can enjoy woodland berries, warm oatmeal and even cold pressed juices on select flights.
Lufthansa’s first class menus draw their inspiration from seasonal highlights and regional produce. Whether you fly day or night, caviar is served as a course of its own through the first class along with an assortment of appetizing savory bites.
Passengers on Lufthansa can choose from a variety of snacks such as gourmet burgers, hot stews and soups, a luxury cheese platter, and hot main courses such as veal with cranberries, duck leg with corn patties and vegetarian spinach and goat curd dumplings.
7 Turkish Airlines
Turkish airlines is changing the entire game of pre-packaged and reheated airplane meals by introducing their Flying Chefs. These chefs prepare fresh meals for business and first-class passengers up in the air while on-board on Turkish airlines.
With over a dozen pasta and omelet options such as artichoke ravioli and Kaygana traditional black sea region omelet with kale and leek, passengers can enjoy a variety fresh gourmet dishes along with their Turkish tea and much on their Turkish delight.
6 Air France
Passengers traveling in the first class cabin (La Première cabin) on Air France enjoy the culinary expertise of three remarkable chefs, Anne-Sophie Pic, Régis Marcon and Guy Martin. Gourmet signature meals designed by these chefs rotate every few months so that frequent travelers can always uncover something new.
If your flight is departing from Paris, you can also relish delightful caviar by Aquitaine Sturia. On a long-haul flight, you can savor a multi-cuisine meal including scrumptious filet mignon, exotic cheeses and comforting soup, including mouth-watering waffles in the morning covered in fresh berries.
5 Cathay Pacific
Krug champagne, truffle, and caviar are just some of the luxuries you can enjoy during your inflight meal onboard Cathay Pacific. You can choose from a variety of contemporary Asian dishes, as well as healthy meal options created by renowned chefs when you book a first class ticket on this airline.
You can also enjoy a glass of Pinot Noir from their award-winning wine selection with an accompanying gourmet cheese board before dessert!
Emirates works closely with chefs to create meals inspired by diverse regions. These gourmet meals are then layered on Royal Doulton fine bone china and served to you at a time of your choice when you fly first class on Emirates.
Watching those calories? No worries. With Emirates, you can enjoy a specially curated healthy meal while onboard. With each course of your meal designed with fresh ingredients and regional inspiration, you can enjoy meals ranging from apple and raisin crepes to Arabic lentil soup and from lamb biryani with raita to braised beef ribs.
3 Etihad Airways
Customized food service is something you don’t generally expect from air travel, but when you book a first class ticket on Etihad Airways, you can enjoy delicious meals prepared to your individual taste.
Etihad Airways also offers the 'Dine Anytime' option for business and first class seats. Passengers not only decide what they want to eat, but also when they want to dine. The multiple course meals are served on chinaware and crystal glasses. Once onboard, you can enjoy luxurious meats cooked to your preference, exclusive wines, extravagant cheese platters, and decadent desserts.
2 Singapore Airlines
Whether it’s for their remarkable inflight service, incredible inflight entertainment, or their comfortable airline seats, Singapore airlines is always topping the best airline lists curated by publications such as Conde Nast Traveler and Travel + Leisure. The food served on this airline is no exception. You can use their creative ‘Book the Cook’ service if you’re traveling in first or business class and choose your meal 24 hours prior to flying.
Whether you’re a fan of Cantonese roast duck, prawn pad thai or nigiri sushi, you can find your favorite meal onboard Singapore Airlines.
1 Air New Zealand
Famous native chefs Peter Gordon and Michael Meredith have teamed up with the best wine connoisseurs to create an impeccable business class menu for passengers of Air New Zealand to enjoy. You could begin your inflight meal experience with a scrumptious appetizer like salmon with a dust of lemon and sesame, followed by ribs and mascarpone mashed potatoes for the main course, and end your meal with a dulce de leche tart or a white chocolate and rosewater pannacotta.
You can also enjoy some of New Zealand’s finest wines and purchase a bottle of your choice from the airline's wine shop.