Airline Food is OverratedAirlines love to tell their passengers how wonderful their in-flight meals are. But airlines often seem to think the food served on board is better than it really is.

Both Qantas and Virgin Australia enlist the help of celebrity chefs in marketing their business class meals. But some airlines have taken this even further. United Airlines last year released a cookbook so you can learn how to cook their business class food at home. And Air Asia thinks its food is so good that it’s opening a restaurant chain in Malaysia.

Sadly, the reality of airline meals is often far, far away from the airline marketing spin. Most airline meals are mass-produced and are sometimes barely edible. It also doesn’t help that many airline meals are packed with salt just to make the taste bearable at 35,000 feet, when your tastebuds are switched off.

United’s Polaris cookbook features delectable dishes such as a “trio of mac and cheeses” and retails for USD29.99. Meanwhile, Air Asia’s fast-food restaurant, selling the same dishes as those featured in Air Asia’s in-flight menu, will be called Santan. Let’s hope the quality of the food served at Santan will be a little better than what’s served on board. This is Uncle Chin’s Chicken Rice, one of Air Asia’s signature dishes served both in Economy and to Premium Flatbed customers:

Chicken rice served on Air Asia
Chicken rice served on Air Asia

It’s not clear whether United or Air Asia actually expect to make any money from these food-related ventures, or if they’re just being used as promotional tools for the airline. Surprisingly, neither of these ventures were announced on April Fool’s Day.

Of course, not all airline food is terrible. Overall, Virgin Australia has done a pretty good job lately with its Business class meals, and Qantas also produces some quality meals. Virgin has even created its own business class wines. That said, the Neil Perry salads served on Qantas international flights have become a running joke among AFF members.

What’s the worst meal you’ve received on a plane?

This week our members are discussing the worst meals they’ve received in-flight, and there have been some absolute shockers. One member recounts receiving a gelatinous grey “thing” on a domestic flight in China that the entire plane refused to eat. Another member has twice contracted food poisoning from in-flight meals. And then there’s the person who found a fly buzzing around in their meal…

What’s the worst airline food you’ve received? Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: Worst in-flight meal you’ve received?


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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]