The Fascinating Story of Your Airplane Food

The Fascinating Story of Your Airplane Food

Airplanes 2024-06-05

Nik Loukas, an experienced airline cuisine reviewer, runs Inflight Feed, a platform that evaluates the food served by airlines worldwide. Having worked behind the scenes at many airport catering kitchens, Loukas is well-aware of the extensive planning and preparation that goes into creating delicious airline meals, which passengers often overlook.

Over the past 7 years, Loukas has flown and dined on more than 500 flights. He suggests that curry is a reliable option, as its taste is enhanced at high altitude, while seafood is the most challenging for airlines to get right. Loukas speaks highly of the consistently flavorful and creative dishes served by Singapore and Thai Airways. His best airline meal to date was a pre-order upgrade with Austrian Airlines, which was a Japanese-style bento box he paid €15 ($17) extra for.

As an expert in airline cuisine, Nik Loukas provides valuable insights into the intricate world of in-flight dining. He sheds light on the meticulous planning and preparation that goes into crafting the meals that passengers enjoy. So let's get right into it and explore this topic together! Here's the key information you need to know about the history of airplane food, without any additional details. Come on!

The origins of airline meals

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Airline meals are carefully crafted in collaboration with professional chefs, and some airlines even employ renowned celebrity chefs to add a touch of culinary star power. For instance, Singapore Airlines recently announced a partnership with the celebrated German chef Johan Laffer, while Air France's first-class passengers can enjoy meals designed by 3 famous French chefs – Anne-Sophie Pic, Régis Marcon, and Guy Martin. The process of designing, testing, and perfecting a new airline menu can take months before it's ready to launch.

While chefs are responsible for the design of these meals, the actual cooking and assembly is often carried out by large airport-based catering companies.

This video by Airflygo shows the process of making Emirates Airlines' meals from scratch. The process is highly automated and operates around the clock to keep up with the demand. Airline food is typically prepared in advance on the ground, chilled, and then loaded onto the aircraft, where it's reheated and served to passengers.

Cooking for the 400-600 person capacity of a Boeing 747 while in the air would be a logistical nightmare, and for safety reasons, airplanes aren't equipped with stovetops or extensive kitchens. However, you can rest assured that your in-flight meal is safe to consume. The preparation of airline food is regulated by the International Flight Services Association (IFSA), with strict guidelines regarding temperature control, storage, cooking, assembly, and dispatch.

Culinary secrets at high altitudes

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When it comes to dining environments, being crammed into a seat surrounded by numerous other people at high altitude isn't exactly the most appealing scenario for most people.

Beyond the ambiance, the low humidity and high-pressure conditions found in aircraft cabins can actually diminish our ability to taste food properly. This means that even a spicy tikka masala dish may end up tasting rather bland while onboard. Charles Spence, the food scientist, published a book in 2017, which delves into how the elevated noise levels during air travel can interfere with our sense of taste. Spence highlighted that eating is a far more multi-sensory experience than we often realize, and the 80-85 decibels of background noise we encounter during flights can disrupt the balance of our senses, thus affecting our taste buds.

Interestingly, Spence noted that the only flavor that's actually enhanced at high altitudes is the savory umami, which is commonly found in Japanese cuisine. This may explain why the Bloody Mary is reported to be the most popular cocktail consumed on board by airline passengers.

Airlines are well aware of these challenges and have developed various strategies to ensure their in-flight meals taste delicious. They often use more spice, salt, and sugar in their dishes compared to what would typically be used on the ground, and they tend to choose more robust and flavorful menu options when designing their in-flight dining experiences.

Singapore Airlines has taken their culinary offerings to new heights. As stated on their website, the airline carefully tests all of their chefs' creations in simulated cabin environments, adjusting the flavors to ensure the dishes will be just as delightful when enjoyed at high altitudes.

In addition, Cathay Pacific has been coming up with creative ways to improve the gastronomic experience of their passengers, including the brewing of craft beer with specific ingredients, aromas, and carbonation levels that are optimized for the in-flight environment.

Better quality and more options – but with a cost…

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Gone are the days when travel fares included everything. Today, airline food often comes at an additional cost. Many airlines now offer the option to upgrade standard meals to more upscale or specialized options for an extra fee. For instance, Air France passengers can choose to upgrade to a health-conscious grilled chicken and quinoa salad, while British Airways provides classic British pub fare upgrades, such as their "Taste of Britain" and "Great British Breakfast" menus.

While having to pay extra for basic amenities can be frustrating, airlines are working harder to improve the quality of their meals in the hopes of generating more sales. Some airlines are so confident in their revamped menus that they're taking a chance by serving them outside of the airplane.

The CEO of the low-cost carrier AirAsia recently announced plans to open a restaurant showcasing their range of regional Malaysian dishes. Similarly, Air New Zealand demonstrated their faith in their latest menu when they launched a pop-up restaurant in London in 2017, complete with airline seats and tray tables.

The cream of the crop in airline cuisine

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This year, which airlines are set to impress you with their culinary delights?

According to InflightFeed, Thai Airways tops the list for the best economy-class airline meals, offering a diverse range of delectable Thai dishes, as well as a variety of international options. In second place for economy-class is Turkish Airways, known for their mouthwatering Mediterranean dishes, featuring an abundance of vegetables and rice.

Those traveling in business-class or first-class are truly spoiled for choice. ANA, the Japanese-owned airline, has earned high praise from travel bloggers for its outstanding business-class meals. Meanwhile, Air France's gourmet first-class offerings are considered among the most decadent in the industry.

The perfect start to your trip: convenient parking from!

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You might be surprised about this fact because most people are confident that on-site parking is the best choice when you're traveling by air. But, actually, it's not true, and we'll explain why.

People who prefer to get to the airport by car think that it's the most convenient option since on-site parking is the nearest place to the airport where it's possible to park a vehicle safely for the period of a trip. However, they make a huge mistake, as there is a big chance to face many following difficulties:

  • You will need to find a spot in a crowded lot,
  • You will need to carry the luggage all the way through the parking lot,
  • You must pay expensive fees without great service, and much more.

Sounds not so good, right? But there is one great solution in this situation – an off-site parking option!

The off-site parking service has many advantages, which will definitely convince you to change your choice during the next trip:

  • First of all, it's much cheaper. On-site parking can become too costly for you, as the price for such a parking type might equal half the value of the whole trip. The cost of the off-site parking, in turn, will be not so high, offering alongside free shuttles going back and forth between the parking lot and the airport.
  • Secondly, it's much faster. By choosing an on-site parking option, you'll be needed to find a free spot in a crowded lot, which takes a lot of time. However, by selecting an off-site parking option, you'll be able to drive directly to the entrance, where staff members will help you to pull your luggage out of your vehicle and load it into the shuttle, as well as park your car securely for you. Finally, a free shuttle will bring you and your bags to the airport.
  • Thirdly, it's much more convenient. No more worries about being late to the airport and your flight – the off-site parking is a hassle-free option that is usually faster. Since you use the services of a private company, people want to be sure you're satisfied with the quality and comfort of the services provided, so you don't need to wrack your brain about the quick path to the airport anymore.

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As for the companies that provide the best off-site parking services, we've prepared an ideal option for you. Our booking platform,, built excellent relationships with many parking lot operators to leave customers satisfied and their cars – safe. Furthermore, it doesn't matter what the airport you're flying from is – on our easy-to-navigate website,, you'll find the best deals for all the major airports and cruise ports in the United States and Canada.

To understand it better, we can give you an example. Let's imagine that you live in Los Angeles, California, USA and plan to visit Europe. Then, you can use the services of cheap parking near LAX. If you're flying from Memphis, Tennessee, the situation is the same – choose affordable off-site Memphis long-term parking. So, as you can understand, everything works simply.

By the way, on our website, you can find all the required information about the advantages of off-site parking, airport parking deals, and others. So travel profitably and enjoy your following trip together with us!