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Top 10 airlines with the best in-flight dining

The history of in-flight dining is a journey that is closely linked to the evolution of aviation itself.

In the 1920s,the early days of air travel, the culinary experience was constrained by technological limitations, resulting in simple, cold meals served on the lightest chinaware servers could find. This was because there was a great deal of focus on the weight a passenger could have onboard, as engines were really feasible, and since there was not as much freedom to divert energy from the engine to other sources, like heat, cold food was the norm.The concept of flying boats in the mid 1930s introduced onboard kitchens, making it possible for freshly roasted beef to be served directly on aircraft like Pan Am’s Clippers.

Frozen foods were introducedin 1940, catering to the nutritional needs of soldiers embarking on long flights to Europe. Varieties took off in the 1950s with airlines like Northwest Airlines setting up a lounge called”Fujiyama Room”, where pineapples studded with shrimp, cheese, cherry tomatoes, and fruit squares were served. This period also witnessed serving styles get more elaborate.

The 1960s witnessed changes like switching from glassware to plastic, as washing and storing them took a lot of time, and serving up foods that did not need to be cut with a knife and fork. The 1970s marked a pinnacle of choice and luxury in first-class flight offerings, with airlines like Japan Airlines setting the standard with their Teahouse in the Sky, featuring a selection of Japanese teas and sake.

As aviation continued to soar to new heights, so did the expectations for in-flight dining, transforming it into a culinary experience rivaling that of the finest restaurants on the ground.

According to experts, here are 10 of the best airlines with the best in-flight dining

Emirates

Emirates Airlines stands out for its exceptional in-flight dining, offering unlimited Dom Pérignon for first-class guests and a diverse menu selection for all passengers. From caviar to burger sliders, every craving is catered to with finesse. With attention to detail across all classes and a curated wine selection, Emirates ensures a memorable dining experience, making it the top choice for travelers seeking culinary excellence in the sky.

Singapore Airlines

Singapore Airlines takes in-flight dining to new heights with meticulously crafted menus tested in simulated pressurized environments. Their “Book the Cook” service offers exclusive pre-order options, while first-class amenities, including queen-sized beds and bespoke pajamas, ensure a luxurious experience. With a menu featuring over two dozen items, Singapore Airlines rivals top restaurants on the ground, earning its reputation as the second-best airline for culinary excellence in the skies.

Turkish Airlines

Turkish Airlines shines with its exceptional service and dining experience across all classes. Setting itself apart, the airline provides onboard chefs for first and business class, allowingpassengers choose how they want their meal to be prepared. With an extensive menu featuring options ranging from red meat to pasta and vegetables, passengers are spoilt for choice. Even in economy class, Turkish Airlines impresses with hot meals served in dishes and bowls, along with sides like hummus and fresh salads. Seasonality and freshness are paramount to the Turkish Airlines. Whether you ar in first class or economy, Turkish Airlines ensures a flavorful journey above the clouds.

Cathay Pacific

Cathay Pacific sets the standard for consistency in air travel. Embracing wellness and sustainability, passengers enjoy freshly brewed coffee and craft pale ale onboard. Across all classes, Cathay Pacific impresses with top-notch dining, with first-class passengers being treated to a white linen and crystal stemware dining experience in the world’s widest seats, at 36 inches across.Every detail reflects the airline’s commitment to excellence.

Qatar

Qatar Airways remains a top choice for travelers for several reasons. First and foremost, the airline offers an on-demand à la carte menu in first and business class, allowing passengers to indulge in freshly baked bread, burrata salad, or a duo of lamb at their preferred time. Additionally, Qatar Airways caters to dietary preferences with a variety of plant-based dishes available in business class, adding to the overall dining experience with Qatar Airways.

Etihad Airways

Etihad Airways redefines in-flight dining with a farm-to-tray approach, sourcing ultra-fresh, locally grown produce from UAE and regional farms. This commitment to freshness means that salad greens are harvested just hours before passengers are served. What sets Etihad apart is its dedicated onboard chefs, ensuring that every dish is cooked and plated to perfection. With an on-demand menu available throughout the flight, including the airline’s signature Etihad steak, every culinary experience with Etihad is a journey worth savoring.

Air France

Air France elevates the dining experience to new heights with solid options in every class and an impressive wine and champagne menu curated by master sommelier Paolo Basso. Committed to sustainability, 100% of meat, dairy, and eggs are sourced from France, while children and infants are served organically grown food components. In the upper class, “La Première,” guests dine on white linen tablecloths with designer porcelain plates and crystal stemware. Collaborating with top French chefs like Arnaud Lallement and Anne-Sophie Pic, Air France transforms each flight into a celebration, showcasing the best of French cuisine with fresh, local, and seasonal ingredients served in eco-friendly packaging across all classes.

Korean Air

Korean Air has been recognized for its outstanding in-flight dining experiences, particularly in first class, where guests enjoy two substantial meals and a selection of snacks throughout their journey. Even in economy and “prestige” classes, passengers enjoy satisfying meals, including the popular bibimbap dish on Pacific flights. Korean Air takes pride in using fresh, seasonal ingredients that reflect the essence of each destination, earning the prestigious Mercury Prize. The onboard dining experience is further enhanced with a wine collection curated by Marc Almert, the 2019 ASI World’s Best Sommelier.

All Nippon Airways (ANA)

ANA collaborates with top chefs like Toru Okuda for Japanese cuisine and Ryuta Iizuka for French dishes, to offer world-class dining onboard. With options for both Japanese and Western fare, passengers enjoy a culinary journey. The menu features dishes like crab and avocado salad in a kumquat, stem lettuce resembling Japan’s New Year kadomatsu, and Ankimo, a slow-cooked anglerfish liver with Arima sansho pepper and winter vegetables. Even economy passengers departing from Japan have the option of upgrading their meal for an additional charge.

Hawaiian Airlines

Hawaiian Airlines consistently earns top honors as the best domestic American airline, known for its outstanding service and above-average meal service. Unlike many others, Hawaiian Airlines continues to provide a hot meal to all passengers, including those in economy class. First-class travelers enjoy a special dining experience with a choice of cocktails and meals designed by chef Robynne Maii of Fete.

 

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