NEW YORK (NYTimes) - Is it really possible for economy passengers on long-haul flights to look forward to the in-flight food? Now, on some airlines, that answer may be a "yes."
While back-of-the-plane cuisine doesn't exactly have a reputation for being appetising, and amenities for economy flyers are increasingly few and far between, several carriers are taking the opposite approach by elevating their main cabin food on long-haul flights and, in some instances, the alcohol, too.
Many airlines promote their lavish meals and premium wines and liquors for first and business class passengers, said Paul Tumpowsky, co-founder and chief executive of the New York travel agency Skylark, but until recently, economy passengers have been largely neglected. Now, he said, tasty economy-class food is no longer an oxymoron.
"Competition among airlines is growing by the day, and having good food is a memorable gesture that goes a long way in building a repeat customer base," he said.
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Here, six airlines aiming to make eating in economy a not-so-average experience.
Serving generous portions of sumptuous, flavourful food in economy is a priority for this Asian carrier. Besides the two entree choices, there's an additional "Deliciously Wholesome" menu of healthful dishes such as quinoa with ratatouille and chickpeas and Oriental-style steamed fish. Those who want to imbibe have their pick of top-shelf spirits.
Will it be wok-fried pork along with Smirnoff vodka on the rocks for dinner? Or is cuttlefish in a five-spice sauce and a Bombay Sapphire gin more your fancy? For economy passengers on this Taiwanese airline, these are just two of many food and beverage options. The selections always include one Western entree and emphasize seasonal ingredients.
All meals for economy passengers begin with an aperitif of a glass of champagne along with salted biscuits, and the entrees, such as chicken in a spicy sauce with baby vegetables, are usually accompanied by a wedge of Camembert cheese. Between meals, snack carts full of pastries and French chocolates are set up in the galleys, and on some routes, ice cream is served.
As a Switzerland-based airline, this carrier prides itself on serving economy passengers Swiss food and beverage items including chocolate bars, beers and wines. On flights originating in Switzerland, the carrier collaborates with Hiltl, the renowned Zurich vegetarian restaurant, to offer meatless meals like Thai massaman vegetable curry.
Authentic Turkish cuisine prepared daily from scratch is offered to economy flyers of this Istanbul-based airline. Turkish olive oil and butter, along with a different Turkish spice each month, accompany all breads, and main course selections might be shish kebabs or eggplant stuffed with ground meat. Sweets such as sultac (Turkish rice pudding) as well as freshly brewed Turkish tea cap off all meals.
DELTA AIR LINES
Economy passengers don't have to fly internationally to get a taste of Delta's improved in-flight food: The carrier now offers free meals on a dozen of its longest domestic flights. Flyers receive menus with three choices each for breakfast and lunch, such as a fruit and cheese plate and a whole grain veggie wrap. Next up for the airline: a more attractive culinary program on international routes including possible partnerships with well-known chefs.