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Hot or not? The good, the bad, the ugly of airline food




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Ever since the first passenger plane took off, airline food has been a somewhat controversial part of our travel experience. If you have ever been confronted with a plastic tray of something you can’t quite describe on a long haul flight, you will know what we mean. In our latest blog we take a look at the good, the bad and the ugly of airline food.

The first ever sky high meal

In 1912, the first international passenger flight was operated by DELAG from Hamburg to Copenhagen. Passengers tucked into turtle bouillon, lamb chops, champagne and sherry. They were seated at tables dressed with white tablecloths. While on board catering is still key to winning discerning customers, with 4 million meals served in the sky every single day, it’s little wonder things have changed.

The good

So who tops the charts in term of airline food? Luxury food magazine Saveur’s Good Taste Award went to Singapore Airlines in their First Class Airbourne Eats category; “with its gang of international chef consultants and quarterly changing menus, Singapore Airlines offers many meal options.” The airline even has a Book the Cook option, which lets you pre-order dishes from sushi to Chicken Biryani from one of their international chefs.* Yum!

But don’t think you have to pay top dollar to experience great food at 35,000 feet. Both the magazine’s expert panel and their readers voted Singapore Airlines’ economy class meals tops as well. And with competition fierce among the top Asian and Middle East airlines, it seems our culinary experience in the sky may improve even more.

The bad and the ugly

We’ve all had terrible airline food, but spare a thought for passengers on North Korea Air Koryo. It landed bottom again last year for the worse food and service out of 681 airlines surveyed by Skytrax, a UK based airline and airport consultancy company.** Photos of their now infamous in-flight mystery meat burger are all over the Internet, while other worst meals ever can be viewed on airlinemeals.net where passengers post photos and rate their airline meal!

Don’t be left hungry

In-flight entertainment is probably our main way of whiling away the hours, and on some short haul flights you have to buy or bring your own food. But the meal we get is still important, and to make sure you’re not left feeling empty Here’s Budget Direct Insurance top five tips for surviving airline food.

1. Order a special or vegetarian meal – it gets you served first. Hindu vegetarian meals seem to survive the reheating process more than most.

2. Bring a sachet of jam or peanut butter with you, even if the meal is dire or your kids are fussy you’ll survive with a couple of bread rolls.

3. Tuck into the ice-cream, according to experts it’s the only thing you can really taste in the air as the pressurized cabin dulls your taste buds and dries your throat.

4. If you are a tea drinker, bring your favourite tea bags as this will at least ensure a good cuppa.

5. Avoid seafood as storage and reheating may cause tummy trouble.

If you have any great airline food stories, get in touch, or send us in some photos of the best and worst of those airline meals.

Wherever you go, whatever you do, remember it’s vital to have good Travel cover.
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* Saveur’s Good Taste Award 2015
** The Telegraph, UK