Reader pics: the best (and worst) of business class food

By John Walton, February 7 2012
Reader pics: the best (and worst) of business class food

If you fly frequently, you probably have a love-hate relationship with airline food.

Sometimes, the food is perfect: it's well-chosen, just to your taste, cooked right and plated attractively.

Other times, the ovens are malfunctioning, or turbulence has meant that the crew are stuck in their seats while your breakfast omelette roasts to a bright yellow eggy lump, or it's "brown goo with white things" again. Yum.

So we polled a few of our readers for some on-the-plane snaps of their best and worst airline meals in business class -- some of which put paid to those glossy, primped food photoshoots you'll see on the airlines' websites, and others that are pretty tasty regardless of how they look.

Starters

Some of our favourite first courses pop up on British Airways. In fact, given that BA's main meals often work on the "put in oven until a smoking, leathery ruin" principle, we've been known to ask for two starters and no main course.

The crab and prawn with celeriac starter between Singapore and Sydney was one of the better ones we've sampled: 

Here's another starter, this time from Cathay Pacific:

The tray table is filled edge-to-edge with a small seafood entre, a salad which contained at least two cherry tomatoes (too many in-flight salads draw the line at a few leafy greens) plus hot-from-the-oven bread.

Main meals

This Qantas meal was served on a Perth-Sydney flight -- in fact, in business class on one of the first Boeing 747 flights Qantas stumped up between NSW and WA when Virgin Australia started their Coast-to-Coast service.

Burnt onto the bowl and with browning green vegetables, it's a far cry from the glossy PR pictures and Rockpool-enhanced menu descriptions.

But the red roo can get it right too: reader Rayme Gorniak writes in with praise for a Qantas burrito:

"The great thing about the burrito was that it was pretty authentic Mexican," Rayme enthuses. "That holds a lot of water from an American that misses Mexican cuisine. Not too filling, but it was satisfying."

And the worst? We reckon the British Airways mushroom penne snapped by AusBT journo John Walton on a Singapore-Sydney flight sets the bar at a low point.

Oven-spattered dish, everything a resolutely dark brown, a single cream-of-mushroom-soup flavour and the penne closer to paste than pasta, it was truly one of the worst business class dishes we've had in quite some time. 

Dessert

For dessert, we reckon that the American airlines have it right -- it's hard to beat an ice cream sundae with your choice of toppings.

Reader Mike in California had a scoop of strawberry and a scoop of vanilla, with caramel sauce, hot fudge and whipped cream, on a recent United p.s. (premium service) flight from JFK-SFO:

It might lack something in presentation, but Mike is a fan: "I definitely agree with your 'hot fudge sundae in the air' sentiment!"

Singapore Airlines, too, does a decent ice cream -- though with chic choc and coulis accompaniments rather than whipped cream, as an AusBT reader (who uses the aircraft rego of an Airbus A380 -- 9VSKA -- as his online pseudonym) shows:

 

Of course, the problem with ice cream is that cabin crew need to remember to take it out of deep-freeze so that you can actually get a spoon into it.

Regular AusBT contributor Chris Neugebauer encountered an ice cream sandwich on Virgin Australia's Sydney-LA flight that looks delicious, but was so hard when served (and for hours later) it could have doubled as a hockey puck.

Snacks

Frequent flyers on some short-haul trips (such as Sydney to Singapore or Hong Kong) opt to have a few serves of a lighter snack, spread throughout the flight, rather than tuck into a heavier main meal.

That's certainly the modus operandi of AusBT editor David Flynn when Cathay Pacific's seasonal duck noodle soup is on the menu.

"I usually take my main meal pre-flight at Sydney's Qantas First Class lounge, then hit one of a few favourite places in Hong Kong for dinner – so at various times during the flight I'll have a few serves of this soup with egg noodles, slabs of duck and greens, all served in a tasty but not-greasy broth."

Can you beat these? Drop a link to your photos of the best and worst airline food you've eaten in a comment below. (Don't worry if your comment doesn't immediately appear as published -- to reduce spam our systems automatically screen every comment containing links.)

Missed any of Australian Business Traveller's Food Week articles? We've got a whole week of them — and keep an eye on our @AusBT Twitter account for the very latest news and reviews.

John Walton

Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.

AlG
AlG

04 Nov 2010

Total posts 674

Here's some lamb cutlets I had on a Qantas business class flight SYD-LAX last year. A great meal and typifies what I like in airplane food, not so heavy that it sits on your stomach, doesn't try too hard in fact its probably 'basic' to some chefs but was still a very enjoyable meal.

htc
htc

Qantas P1

18 Jan 2012

Total posts 73

What about the chicken satay served on Malaysia? Usually in infinite numbers. I experienced this last year in J from SYD-KUL. Another goodie I had recently from WLG-SYD in J on QF was the Harpuka. It was great in a curry type sauce with green beans. (Sorry - I travel too much to take photos of all my food/lounges etc.).

In terms of worst, particularly in J, would have to be LAN's transtasman offerings. I often don't eat them. Most of the time it is a sandwhich.

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2387

Have to agree that when it comes to sweet treats in the most basic form of ice-cream, US airlines do 'em pretty well. I remember a great ice-cream sundae served on Delta business class to LAX.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Jan 2011

Total posts 29

One of my all time favourite dishes is the salmon and squid-ink pasta with a soy dressing that I've had trans-tasman (in Qantas Business) a few times.

My worst airline dish ever was also in Qantas business - received for breakfast flying CBR-MEL. Scrambled (seemingly powdered) eggs, and it was totally inedible. The CSM even came and apologised for such a bad quality meal when I sent it back (without complaining).

Alas no photos, otherwise I would have shared them with JW :)

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Jan 2011

Total posts 29

Sorry, that's MEL-CBR (not CBR-MEL).

The morning breakfast catering out of CBR is usually excellent!

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2387

Okay, so I'm going to try and top a few of these offerings with a bit of a cheat which at the same time shows how good in-flight food can be. 

Last September I visited Seattle on a Qantas-Boeing media trip for a two-day series of briefings, after which we flew back to Sydney in The Red Roo's latest and literally factory-fresh Boeing 737-800 (a "delivery flight" which entailed stopovers at Hawaii and Fiji).

Qantas has no catering facilities at Seattle, but Boeing laid on some amazing food to be served in flight on the Seattle-Haiwaii leg – it was easily some of the best and freshest airline food I've ever enjoyed!

(I was sitting in the business class cabin of the 737 for most of the flight so thes emeals qualify as business class food, yes?)

We started with breakfast of fresh seafood salad (prawns, lobster and smoked salmon) and clam chowder.

 

Later on, a light snack of leg ham, prosciutto, buffalo mozzarella and rockmelon.

 

Later again, a delicious steak with grilled vegies, prawns and herb butter.

 

Not shown here: the batch of chocolate chip cookies baked in the 737's oven by the Qantas flight attendants!

 

After all that it's very hard to go back to the "chicken or beef?" in cattle class! :P

AlG
AlG

04 Nov 2010

Total posts 674

Looks like MAS chicken and beef satay sticks. Can't go wrong with a Tiger beer alongside that!

07 Feb 2012

Total posts 4

'traditional greaves and meat dumplings' on OS

07 Feb 2012

Total posts 4

'iced' coffee served at OS 

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2387

For those who don't speak airline code. LearJet's 'OS' meals are from Austrian Airlines – and don't they look great! That iced coffee is alerady making me want one!!

07 Feb 2012

Total posts 4

starter of the japanese menue @LH

AlG
AlG

04 Nov 2010

Total posts 674

Wow, that is just mouthwatering, the soba noodles look totally yum.

07 Feb 2012

Total posts 4

next to the main coure on austrian airlines, which based on my experience has one of the best caterings in the air [they even have a chef on board :-) ] and japanese starter on Lufthansa

the below show a fruit platter served by Thai

Cathay Pacific - Asia Miles

25 Apr 2013

Total posts 544

David's Boeing 737 airline food made my appetite.


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