Monday newsletters always feature top 10 travel lists to inspire.
Today (May 4, 2020): Top 10 airlines with the best onboard food.
We all like to complain how boring, even disgusting, airplane food is. In fact, an entire website is devoted to posting photos by passengers of airline food: the good, the bad and the downright ugly. But there are airlines that actually serve excellent food at 30,000 ft. It should come as no surprise that most of these airlines also feature in my top 10 lists of the world’s best airlines for longhaul Business and the most luxurious First Class suites in the sky. Here’s a list of my 10 favorite airlines when it comes to above standard inflight dining.
There is more information (with trip reports) below the slide show. Think I missed one? Leave a comment or take my poll below!
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Emirates regionally inspired menus are all presented on Royal Doulton fine bone china with exclusive Robert Welch cutlery, providing an excellent fine dining experience. If you are flying First Class, you can enjoy a sumptuous seven-course meal in the privacy of your own exclusive suite. On the A380 aircraft, premium passengers may also nibble on canapés in a wonderful lounge at the rear of the mega-plane. But it’s a royal treatment for all, as Economy may start with slices of smoked tuna served with marinated vegetable salad, followed by charcoal grilled lamb brochette with cinnamon scented sauce, sticky date pudding, cheese, biscuits, and chocolates.
- Official website: Emirates
- Review: read here my review of Emirates’ First Class in an Airbus A380.
- Review: read here my review of Emirates’ First Class in a Boeing 777.
- Review: read here my reviews of Emirates’ Business Class in an Airbus A380.
- Review: read here my review of Emirates’ Business Class in a Boeing 777.
9. SWISS INTERNATIONAL AIR LINES
Swiss’ “Taste of Switzerland” program was designed to highlight different regions of the country on flights throughout the year. First Class passengers dine as if they were in a gourmet restaurant, and enjoy meals inspired by the country’s best Maîtres de Cuisine. Menus change every 3 months and may include dishes such as beef tenderloin with ofetori or Nidwalden-style mashed potatoes made with veal bacon and cheese. First Class meals are also complemented by regional wines, and of course, a selection of local cheese. But also Business and Economy Class passengers rave about food onboard Swiss International Air Lines.
- Official website: Swiss International Air Lines
- Review: read here my review of Swiss’ First Class in an Airbus A330.
- Review: read here my review of Swiss’ Business Class in a Boeing 777.
- Review: read here my review of Swiss’ Business Class in an Airbus A340.
8. ETIHAD AIRWAYS
The award-winning on-board chefs and food & beverage managers of the flagship airline of the United Arab Emirates are recruited from the finest Michelin-starred restaurants around the world. Their goal is to offer an inflight dining experience that equals that of a five-star restaurant. The Mezoon Grille menu, available to Etihad Airways’ First Class customers only, features a variety of premium produce, including beef, chicken, lamb and seafood, along with a range of delicate sauces, sides and delicious desserts, all of which are prepared to order. Whichever cabin you fly in, you will find that Etihad’s food is delicious and portions are always generous.
- Official website: Etihad Airways
- Review: read here my review of Etihad Airways’ First Class in an Airbus A380.
- Review: read here my review of Etihad Airways’ Business Class in a Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
- Review: read here my review of Etihad Arways’ Business Class in a Boeing 777.
- Review: read here my review of Etihad Airways’ Business Class in an Airbus A330.
7. CATHAY PACIFIC
In First Class, Cathay Pacific was one of the first airlines to have rice cookers, toasters and skillets on board their aircraft, enabling the flight attendants to prepare freshly steamed rice, toasted bread and eggs cooked to the passenger’s liking. Carefully prepared and selected by Cathay’s food culinary team, the dishes in all classes are a celebration of China. Those in the premium seats may see a menu of signature dishes from Hong Kong, such as slow cooked pork with preserved Hakka mustard greens; wok-fried chicken with black bean; or Hong Kong-style curry prawns.
- Official website: Cathay Pacific
- Review: read here my review of Cathay Pacific’s Business Class in an Airbus A350.
- Review: read here my review of Cathay Pacific’s Business Class in an Airbus A330.
- Review: read here my review of Cathay Pacific’s Business Class in a Boeing 777.
6. AIR FRANCE
Given the high culinary standards of the French, it should be no surprise to find Air France on my list of the best food in the skies. With its refined details, considerate service, intense flavors, and porcelain tableware, Air France’s meal service is a truly pleasant experience. Every 6 months, a different renowned French chef will serve up special dishes on long-haul flights departing from Paris. And frequent fliers do not have to fear repetition as the menus are changed every 10 days.
- Official website: Air France
- Review: read here my review of Air France’s Business Class in a Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
- Review: read here my review of Air France’s Business Class in a Boeing 777.
5. QATAR AIRWAYS
Four celebrity chefs have been chosen to create Qatar Airways’s unique and diverse à la carte Business and First Class menu: Nobu Matsuhisa, Tom Aikens, Ramzi Choueiri, and Vineet Bhatia. Together, they spent months adapting and testing their specialty dishes for Qatar’s customers, taking into account not only flavors and spices, but how the taste buds are altered at 30,000 feet. Be prepared for extraordinary cuisine mouth-watering dishes when you fly Qatar Airways.
- Official website: Qatar Airways.
- Review: read here my review of Qatar Airways’ First Class in an Airbus A380.
- Review: read here my review of Qatar Airways’ QSuite Business Class in an Airbus A350.
- Review: read here my review of Qatar Airways’ Business Class in a Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
- Review: read here my review of Qatar Airways’ Business Class in a Boeing 777.
- Review: read here my review of Qatar Airways’ Business Class in an Airbus A330.
4. TURKISH AIRLINES
Turkish Airlines certainly knows how to impress its customers when it comes to airline food & gastronomy. A chef in starched whites and towering toque greets boarding passengers at the plane door as if to welcome them into a restaurant. The “flying chef” is in charge of all cuisine, for Business classes, served on long-haul flights. Coach flyers can relish starters like olive oil–poached artichoke and entrees such as grilled beef with creamy eggplant. Even on short domestic flights within Turkey a substantial snack and drink are still offered.
- Official website: Turkish Airlines
3. SINGAPORE AIRLINES
Singapore Airlines’ stellar culinary reputation is guaranteed by its collaboration with world-acclaimed chefs who own Michelin-starred restaurants, like Singaporean culinary maestro Sam Leong, Suzanne Goin of Los Angeles’ Lucques, Carlo Cracco of the Michelin two-star restaurant of the same name in Milan, and Matthew Moran of one of Sydney’s finest restaurants. The airline is famous for its “Book the Cook” service where you can select your gourmet main course from a premium selection of dishes at least 24 hours before departure. Economy Class passengers also benefit from the airline’s dedication to gastronomy, with appetizers like potato salad with baby shrimp and entrées such as wok-fried chicken and bamboo shoots in sesame oil.
- Official website: Singapore Airlines
- Review: read here my review of Singapore Airlines’ First Class in an Airbus A380.
- Review: read here my review of Singapore Airlines’ Business Class in an Airbus A380.
- Review: read here my review of Singapore Airlines’ Business Class in an Airbus A350.
- Review: read here my review of Singapore Airlines’ Business Class in an Airbus A330.
- Review: read here my review of Singapore Airlines’ Business Class in a Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
- Review: read here my review of Singapore Airlines’ Business Class in a Boeing 777.
2. EVA AIR
Taiwan based EVA Air has one of the best (and most underrated) Business Class products in the world. Its Business Class catering really stand out as extraordinary and is on-par with what you are served in the First Class cabins of most other airlines. Food service also includes an extensive menu for preordering meals and vintage Champagne. EVA Air regularly collaborates with famous chefs for its onboard menus, such as Tan-style cuisine master chef Huang Ching-biao and Michelin three-starred Kyoto chef Motokazu Nakamura. Light, healthful, and packed with exotic flavors, the dishes onboard EVA Air make for a perfect inflight banquet.
1. AUSTRIAN AIRLINES
IMHO, Austrian Airlines serves the best airline food and has its meal service down to an art. First, the food comes from DO & CO, a catering company that has upscale restaurants and cafés in cities like Vienna, London and New York. Then, to make certain the delectable dishes are complimented by the perfect drinks, Austrian Airlines has hired an on-board sommelier to develop wine pairings for its Business Class passengers. And when you need a caffeine kick (and who doesn’t on those long international flights?), you get to choose from 11 different types of Austrian Meinl coffee. So, it’s not hard to see why Austrian Airlines is popular among Business Class travelers.
- Official website: Austrian Airlines.
- Review: read here my review of Austrian Airlines’ Business Class in a Boeing 777.
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Congratulations on a wonderful blog and YouTube channel, your content is unique and extremely valued. Courtesy of you channel, I am looking at booking Soneva Jani in the Maldives next year. I was thinking of pairing the trip to take in Sri Lanka first. Have you ever been/have you any recommendations for Sri Lanka?
Eagerly awaiting your next video on YouTube!
All the best
@ Emma: thank for your very kind message. When you decide to stay at Soneva Jani, let me know before you make any booking since I can get you an upgrade there (read more here: https://theluxurytravelexpert.com/2016/08/12/free-upgrade-at-soneva/). I am going back to Soneva Jani next year, and then continuing from the Maldives to Sri Lanka for my first vacation on the island. I have not been there before, so I cannot really recommend any hotels, but I booked myself in both Aman properties (Amanwella and Amangalla) as well as the hotels of the Resplendent Ceylon group. Kind regards
Swiss food is definitely not better than LH. No idea how LX did make it on the top ten but LH not.
I have siblings that live in Europe. Hands down, IMHO, Lufthansa is superb. In fact even though it requires me to layover in FRA, their inflight First Class service is outstanding! I enjoy the First a Class terminal and the private shower rooms to refresh before I continue onto ZRH OR ARN depending which sibling I’m going to. The few times I’ve flown business it was without complaint.
Singapore Airlines in First Class definitely…but their Business Class catering leaves a lot to be desired. Flights out of Singapore fare better in this regard than those from other stations but still there is room for improvement in quality and quantity.
Swiss Is better than Lufthansa but not by much. My recent Experience with Turkish from BKK-IST-ATL was actually below my expectations and I didn’t like the food I got. Emirates and Qatar have had hands down best food on an Airline I’ve ever had. Etihad and Cathay are a close second IMO. I’m excited to try Singapore and Asiana soon, I’ll tell you later. I just tried Iberian’s food. Wasn’t as good as Swiss or Lufthansa or other Euro Airliners but it was better than BA, TAP, and SAS food, IMO. It’s getting major improvements and it’s becoming one of the better airliners in Europe.
I love food porn and your reviews never disappoint. You could start a food website, all you need is captions for what is prepared for each dish.
I know air NZ does not have a first class!
Below an interesting counter article re the latest ‘Best airlines’ ratings. I would be very surprised that Lufthansa would make the 10 list since Germans are not really known for their ‘fine cuisine’… Even the Wiene Schnitzel isn’t really German – whereas Sauerkraut und Eisbein are more along German fare. I am ALSO surprised to read that none of the East Asian carriers made it on the list.
I find this article quite good as a counter balance and offer some perspective from people within the industry, granted, their focus isn’t solely on BC or First Class.
I’ve only been on Ethihad and Emirates most times and it was the best aahh. I hope I get to fly in Qatar airlines next🤗
I voted for Air France simply because the champagne was free flowing in cattle class. Otherwise, Emirates was always number one for me; but I haven’t flown Emirates in a while since I’ve taken up with Qatar Airways. Qatar Airways has excellent food and the way the food is served and the wine presented actually seems better that Emirates. And both the Emirates lounge and the Qatar Airways are excellent, and the Air France Lounge is ok, but somehow the service staff at the Qatar Airways lounge is perfect. KLM is good but really it’s a mashup between Emirates and Qatar Airways.
I’ve heard good things about Cathay and wish to try the food. ANA was excellent; but, as a Westerner, I really have to vote for familiar Western food, as Oriental food can be exciting and exotic and I really don’t know how to rate its excellence.