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Why Airplane Food is so Bad

This article has an interesting breakdown on airplane food, and what happens to taste/smell in the air. http://www.theatlantic.com/health/arc...

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  1. That article doesn't say the food tastes bad, just that a lot of flavor is lost so they went to sauces. This is a situation where food is fuel and I wish people would lower their expectations.

    27 Replies
    1. re: c oliver

      I posted the article title - but I think the more accurate title is why the food tastes bad (i.e. how our taste buds work in that situation).

      Personally, I'm in agreement with you. Any international flight I've ever been on had fed me enough where I've never been hungry (and in some cases during the 'overnight' portion of the flight extra snacks were made available if anyone wanted).

      1. re: c oliver

        Well...Someone better teach Varig Airlines about sauce making and what goes with what. My flight from Miami to Manaus a few years ago featured a hyper-baked, practically mummified chicken breast in beef gravy.
        I think it ranks as my worst ever. I can't adjust my expectations much lower than that.
        CP

        1. re: c oliver

          This is a situation where food is fuel and I wish people would lower their expectations
          _______________________

          That's not exactly right. For the most part, airlines provide food -- esp. free food -- less as a means to fuel the body, and more as a means of distraction for the passenger -- i.e., as a way to pass time for long haul flights.

          As an aside, a flight attendant once confided in me that all coffee served on an airplane is decaf. Even if the little pouches of preground coffee beans are labeled "regular" and "decaffeinated" -- both are still decaf.

          1. re: ipsedixit

            I'm talking about from the passenger's standpoint. It's fuel.

            1. re: c oliver

              What passenger needs fuel for a 6-hour flight while sitting on her ass 99% of that time?

              Does getting up and going to the lavatory burn so many calories that without an additional reheated plate of salisbury steak masquerading as "steak" the passenger will faint of calorie deprivation?

              Or without fuel during those 6 hours the passenger will be so weak as to be unable to remove their belongings from the overhead compartment?

              Fuel? The plane needs fuel.

              The passengers need something to pass their time. Moving their hands and mindlessly eating food a mere hour into the flight constitutes the "national past time" for airline passengers.

              1. re: ipsedixit

                for me, it's as much mental as anything (although with some of the odd flight times, yeah, I've been pretty hungry when the mystery dish arrived)

                Eating as you take off = mentally, that's dinner. Watch a little tv or a movie, doze off.

                Wake up, have a lousy cup of body-temperature substance, visit the loo and wash my face = it's morning.

                It's like changing your watch when you take off -- it's purely faking yourself out, and you know it as you're doing it....but it works, and I'm not going to screw with what works.

                1. re: ipsedixit

                  I'm talking about ten to twelve hour flights. Those "baby" flights I could do standing on my head.

                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    You realize it's not healthy to go 6 hours between meals? Not everyone is 100% super healthy like you.

                    1. re: smoledman

                      Really? I usually eat lunch around noon and dinner between 730 and 8. What's the problem with that please?

                      1. re: c oliver

                        Some of us have to eat every two hours (like an infant) or we get cranky!

                      2. re: smoledman

                        You realize it's not healthy to go 6 hours between meals?
                        ___________

                        So I should get up at around 4 am to grab a bite to eat and then go back to bed? Or just forgo the recommended 7-8 hours of shut eye?

                        Choices choices.

                        Sir Hobson where are you?

                        1. re: ipsedixit

                          well which is it? sleep or food? why don't we just toddle over to sleephound.com and we can share ideas about pillows and thread count there. (smirk)

                      3. re: ipsedixit

                        The problem is that it isn't just a 6 hour flight. It's 2 hours security + travel to airport on each end. Sometimes it can be 10 hours of airport and airplane time, excluding travel to the airport. And a 6 hour flight could be connecting from a longer flight. If you don't have a lot of turn around time in the airport your only option might be to eat on the plane.

                        1. re: PotatoPuff

                          Skip a meal.

                          Most people (not you necessarily) could use to skip a meal every once in a while.

                          1. re: PotatoPuff

                            The food isn't going to make you sick. The food isn't going to make you gag. The food is generally boring and overcooked. It's one meal out of your life. I rarely remember ANY 'meh' meal 24 hours later.

                            1. re: c oliver

                              Hey, I hear ya.

                              I actually think airline food is just fine -- esp. given the constraints flight attendants have to deal with to prepare, "cook," and serve the food.

                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                As the Valley Girls say "TOTES" :) As I wrote here I recently (in the last year?) had something that I'd have served to guests. But I'm fine with chicken, gravy, a starch. Forget the vegetables and the salad. Save the cheese and dessert for if you're hungry later. I've never understood why transportation on an airplane is held to a different standard than, say, a bus or a train.

                                1. re: c oliver

                                  exactly -- and what's available on trains (even in France) is pretty dire.

                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                    My grandparents still remembered the old Pullman cars that served proper hot meals with real china and glasses and tablecloths. After WWII the standard of food on trains declined and, yep, people complained :)

                                    Those were the days, eh?

                                    1. re: Roland Parker

                                      I remember my first flight at age five on an American Airlines Lockheed Super Constellation. Trays had an "A.A." logo embroidered linen place mat, the shrimp cocktail was served in a clear glass sorbet cup with crushed ice, real china, real flatware with "A.A." logos on all. I don't remember the meal other than the shrimp but I'm sure it was on par with the rest of the presentation.*sigh*
                                      CP

                                  2. re: c oliver

                                    We pay a lot more for flight tickets than for bus tickets.

                                    The flights that still serve hot meals are the long haul, international flights, and those tickets aren't cheap. When you think about it, those meals are probably the most expensive meals most people will ever have ;)

                                    The tradition emerged to serve hot meals on flights and it's now a long established tradition. Chipping away at it is always going to cause controversy, which is what happens when something taken for granted is slowly removed. In the last decade or so we've gone from having hot meals on short haul flights to just free drinks to now no free meals or drinks. People remember things like that (although I'm also aware that flight ticket costs have also declined for domestic flights in the US, adjusting for inflation).

                                    While I'm indifferent to the lack of food on short haul flights, as someone who flies 14+ hour flights multiple times yearly I do pay attention to the food served. When you're strapped to a seat for hours on a cramped plane and thousands of feet up in the air, the food does have an impact on ensuring a happy cabin. That's one reason why so many people are willing to pay a premium to fly Emirates over the other airlines.

                            2. re: ipsedixit

                              i may be a corner case, but - while i hear you - i have to stay on a scheduled, dietitian-ordered meal plan. it's important for me to be fed at appropriate intervals.

                              i usually brown-bag it, though!

                              1. re: chartreauxx

                                So, again, we're talking international, right? I find the meals to be too large and put away parts of it for snacks later...which I then never have. But for you, wouldn't that work? Or if it's the content of those meals, then you need to bring it anyway, right?

                                1. re: c oliver

                                  it's not diabetes or anything like that; i'm in recovery from an eating disorder that nearly killed me. i was just countering the "who needs to eat a meal that often" thing. as i said, i usually brown bag just because i don't like restaurant food. :-) it's more about not missing meals and having a balanced meal. i'm just saying depending on the case, it can be helpful for me to have a meal on offer.

                        2. re: c oliver

                          with two exceptions:

                          a) airline coffee -- especially on transatlantics, it's watered-down, lukewarm sludge. If Southwest can manage drinkable (not great, but drinkable) coffee on a 2-hour flight, there's not much excuse as to how the long-hauls can serve that shit with a straight face. (And tea? You can't make tea with piss-warm water)

                          b) airline "croissants" -- steamed, limp, chewy little wads of some unidentifiable dough "warmed" in their plastic coffin.

                          Mostly, yeah, I skip the breakfast -- I have the oj, I eat the yogurt, and I hightail it to the first coffee bar I find when I clear customs.

                          1. re: sunshine842

                            On trans Pacific flights I get the Chinese breakfast - rice porridge, some fruit and piping hot oolong tea makes a much better breakfast that soggy scrambled eggs, and I find black tea does a better job of getting rid of dry sleep mouth than coffee.

                            I honestly don't mind airline food in general (although I haven't travelled a North American airline in years, so I can't comment there). No, it's not a fantastic meal, but it's edible, breaks up the monotony, and keeps me from getting hungry. I've definitely had worse meals on business trips than what I get on the plane. (Meals cooked and served at 9000 ft, trying to find a meal in a smallish Chilean city at 7 pm on a Sunday evening)

                            1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                              I'm with you -- other than the "coffee" and the "croissants", most of it's not too awful. Desserts tend to be sugar bombs, though, so I don't usually eat them - just too sweet.

                        3. I've had Pringles on a flight. I've had soft drinks. I've had granola bars. They all taste just the same as they do on the ground. The airline food though? Horrifying mush.

                          1. I've actually had really good airplane food, and I've had really bad airplane food.

                            Sort of like when I'm on the ground.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: ipsedixit

                              Exactly. Some time in the last year I had something (don't remember now) that I thought "sheesh, I'd serve that to guests." I almost always eat the "protein" components. Maybe not the vegs as they're guaranteed overdone, some cheese, leave the salad, put the dessert thingie away if I want a snack later. Gets me from point A to point B. I have no other expectation.

                              1. re: mwhitmore

                                Not always possible or practical, although I do always have a few snack bars/meal bars in my bag.
                                My last 4 flights were 14+ hours, plus the 2 hr pre-flight check in, plus the 1hr commute to the airport. So... packing food for 17 hours/2 or 3 meals, into my one 22" bag and the "personal item" bag (i.e. laptop tote), seemed impractical. Also, when arriving at the airport at 9pm, and not knowing until 11pm whether or not my flight would depart, none of the food outlets was open, except the coffee bar.

                                1. re: KarenDW

                                  Not to mention figuring out what will get through security, and the risk of having your lunch confiscated at customs half way through the trip. I do always pack a couple of soy joys and some nuts in the bottom of my bag for unexpected delays.

                                  The worst I do on a regular basis involves a short connector flight, followed by an 8 hour layover before a 12 hour flight. The last five hours (9pm - 2am) the food source is the coffee bar at the newspaper shop. The airline provides urns of coffee, tea, water and either ginger tea (winter) or iced tea (summer) for the last few hours before the flight.

                                  1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                                    well that sounds miserable. what sort of Itinerary requires 2+8+12? you must be more remote than I.

                                  2. re: KarenDW

                                    the US, I'd try to pick up some snacks at Trader Joe's or Whole Foods. Can't rely on US airports to get satisified.

                                    In Europe, a bunch of airports have supermarkets, which is good not only for snacks but also for souvenirs.

                                    East Asia, the region I might know best, is another story. Some Chinese airports have local produce -albeit unsurprisingly marked up- stalls. Longan from Guangzhou, anyone? Moreover, KL, Hong Kong and Singapore, among others, have places open 24 hours.

                                    Jonathan
                                    http://buildingmybento.com

                                    1. re: BuildingMyBento

                                      Hi,

                                      Do you have recs for Hanoi via Taipei to LAX? TIA

                                      1. re: c oliver

                                        Does it have to be through TPE (Taipei)? Or are you looking to fly with a specific airline alliance? China Airlines is partners with Delta/SkyTeam, and Eva with United/Star Alliance. Neither Taiwanese airline offers anything terribly good- I've generally been served rice with "fish" and bok choy and carrots. I'm not a fan of standard airline fare from China/Taiwan - though you might not those staples - and always request a Hindu meal where possible.

                                        Regarding TPE, if you have enough time to pass through immigration for your layover, there is definitely a convenience store in the arrivals hall. Can't recall if there's one post-security.

                                        If you'd be willing to fly through NRT (Tokyo)/HKG, I know those airports better.

                                        1. re: BuildingMyBento

                                          We're booked on a tour for next year and will be flying EVA (glad to see that they're part of Star Alliance). We have about 2-1/2 hour layover in TPE which I dont consider time enough to have to go through security anywhere :) Thanks for your reply.

                                          1. re: c oliver

                                            if you're on EVA, they generally have an Asian meal option and that tends to be ok. Especially for breakfast, its a simple congee with some side dishes. Actually not a bad meal in the middle of a long flight. I'd also avoid the vegetarian options. My wife ordered those on our recent China Airlines flight and those were atrociously disgusting.

                                            TPE has pretty good food options where you can pick up any assortment of traditional Taiwanese fare, such as beef noodle soup. Is it the best Taiwan has to offer? No, but its more than passable.

                                            1. re: FattyDumplin

                                              Thanks for the advice. I think congee sounds just right.

                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                Enjoy your trip! And someday, be sure to find sometime to spend in Taiwan. The food scene in Taipei is ridiculously good for a wide range of cuisines and it's a fun place to boot.

                                                1. re: FattyDumplin

                                                  So much world and so little time. Thanks always.

                                2. it also depends on the airline. when I was flying TWA to Spain, it sorta sucked, and then due to terrorism (mid 1980's) the company switched us over to Air Iberia and wow it was better, still some douche across the aisle wanted to know his wine's pedigree as he was afraid he'd puke (dude, you're in economy and you're getting picky?) so to ease the load on the mostly Castilian speaking attendants even though the flight was only just half-full, I leaned across the aisle and offered 'just think of it as table wine and it's ok' that shut him up for a while and if memory serves somebody on the crew dropped off an extra port for me that flight. I knew the wine served and it wasn't a stellar wine, but not gargle.

                                  the point of it being food or drink service on a flight as diversion is right. if it manages to be good, so much the better and unexpected.

                                  1. That's why I eat at the airport whenever I can. There's almost always *something* that is better than the dreaded "chicken or pasta?" Nasty.

                                    1. Airline food can be quite decent. We fly Emirates very often as we're in Dubai and the food is pleasant and enjoyable, both in Economy and Business. Emirates gives you a huge selection of meals to select from and the Middle Eastern/Indian options are quite good.

                                      Singapore Airways also has pretty good food as does Qatar (at least in Business).

                                      Since we fly so many long-haul flights (anywhere from 7-14hours) I do find the meals just as useful as a way to break up the monotony of the flights.

                                      5 Replies
                                      1. re: Roland Parker

                                        Yes, Singapore was (or may still be) a great exception, cuisine-wise -- and I would never use the words 'cuisine' and 'airplane food' in one sentence.

                                        1. re: linguafood

                                          For years, I flew Singapore Airlines at least once a year and was very impressed by the quality of their food in coach. This is an airline that operates by a different set of rules than the American carriers. Due to a change in job, I no longer travel outside of the country a lot. I am happy to hear that Singapore Airlines is maintaining its standards.

                                        2. re: Roland Parker

                                          You are talking about two of the best airlines in the world.

                                          All Nippon Air's Japanese meal in business class is also really good. I look forward to having it.

                                          The food on a 6 hour Delta flight in coach? Not so much.

                                          1. re: AdamD

                                            took ANA to SIN and back last Fall in their new Dreamliners; one of my best flight experiences ever. Really nice & interesting Japanese menu, drinks, & service; and that Ippudo late-nite ramen service hit the spot like very few snacks have in the past year.

                                        3. You can have bad foods on the ground too, no? Just ask LaGuardia Airport...

                                          I've written a few things about airline food (http://buildingmybento.com/tag/airpla...), commenting on the peaks and valleys, and have come to the conclusion that, if you like it, ordering a Hindu meal and - big shock - avoiding US carriers is usually the safest bet.

                                          Additionally, Do & Co is an Austria-based airline catering company that supplies meals to Austrian and Turkish, and possibly others. They know the score. If only I could tour their JFK facility...

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: BuildingMyBento

                                            Hmm, I wonder if it was Turkish Airlines where I had something really quite tasty. Flew them a couple of times last year.

                                          2. Korean Air and EVA have decent food if you go with the Asian selection. The rest, I just forgo. If the flight is domestic, I'll wait it out. Long haul, I'll have a vodka tonic and a sleeping pill to fuel my travel efforts.

                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: alliegator

                                              I fly EVA pretty regularly, both it and China Air have edible food, as do the Japanese airlines. I think the best meals I've had were on Jet Air, an Indian airline, which served curries and rice.

                                              I sometimes fly out of tiny little airports that don't really have a place to buy food, and where there's only a vending machine after you go through security. Or at weird hours, where only the coffee bar is open, even in a big international terminal.

                                              1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                                                Ooh, ooh, ooh :) I've recently booked a trip to SE Asia next year where we'll fly EVA from LAX through Taipei to Bangkok and return Hanoi to Taipei to LAX. Glad to hear any feedback on EVA. And are they REALLY Alliance partners? (OT - sorry)

                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                  Yup, Star Alliance. Which kinda made me sad, because I'm Skyteam's b!tch stemming from my many years in Atlanta.
                                                  Expect good food on EVA.

                                                  1. re: alliegator

                                                    Good to know. A plus. Off to Hawaii now!!!

                                            2. Airplane food used to be actually pretty decent, still ca 20 or 25 years ago. I remember flying in the early nineties with a Brazilian airline, eating on board was fine, even Lufthansa was better then.
                                              Nowadays I do take the hot Dinner and use the whole thing to warm up those horrible frozen rolls by placing them on top of the still hot foil cover. That's about all that food is good for. My mother used to say "tastes like cold monkey".....

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: RUK

                                                Our meal on Alitalia back in the late 1990s was one to remember. They even had a menu like a restaurant to choose from.

                                                1. re: coll

                                                  Back then, that wasnt uncommon on international.

                                              2. Had a great snack on a Delta flight last year: hummus, excellent crackers, olives, cheese, almonds. Tasty and filling.

                                                14 Replies
                                                1. re: pikawicca

                                                  What did it cost, do you remember? I've never bought any of those things. Oh, wait, I did buy a little thing of Pringles in the last year or so.

                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                    I think it was $8, and really quite a lot of food.

                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                        Oh, I had that hummus and olives one a while back. It was way better than a hot meal.

                                                          1. re: pikawicca

                                                            Now that hot meals aren't served in economy on domestic flights, I think the "food available for purchase" is probably better. I've thought for decades that airlines would do better to serve "deli" type foods, i.e., meats, cheese, olives, etc.

                                                            1. re: c oliver

                                                              Agree, but am really looking forward to what my Air France Business Class from Atlanta to Paris is going to serve on Friday. If it's not better than the Delta snack, I'll shoot myself.

                                                              1. re: pikawicca

                                                                Nah, just have more wine and an Ambien :)

                                                                1. re: pikawicca

                                                                  AF definitely has the best wine selections -- even in coach.

                                                                  But ONLY on the outbound legs from France. Inbound from the US, they stock up on cheap California plonk.

                                                                  1. re: pikawicca

                                                                    Air France can be fairly ok. I've only done economy(that's how I roll), but when I book through Delta to Europe, I'll always choose Air France through codeshare when I can. If you sleep through dinner (I usually do), you can go back and ask the flight attendants for bread and fruit, etc. Not bad.
                                                                    Will be interested to hear what you get in business class :)

                                                                    1. re: alliegator

                                                                      I tend to skip dinner on international night flights. It can be a couple of hours before dinner is served and I'm usually ready to have the paltry few hours of sleep I can get :)

                                                                      1. re: alliegator

                                                                        back in the day Air France, British Air and Air Iberia were (within the context of airplane food) darn good.

                                                                    2. re: c oliver

                                                                      I agree, C. Oliver. I'd rather have a good deli sandwich than a miserly (chicken or pasta) "full" meal, which has either been sitting around getting cold or microwaved. I think that price of the deli sandwich would be about the same as the full meal.

                                                                      The problem is that when I have had deli sandwiches on airplanes, the airlines continue to cut costs, giving you a smidgen of meat and a disproportionately large, bready bun.

                                                                      1. re: gfr1111

                                                                        Yeah, well, when I'm Czarina of the Universe, we'll be getting the pastrami from Katz's and all manner of other good things. How about some NYC bagels???

                                                          2. I went to a gilded restuarant once where the food was served under those old-fashioned steel domes. The waiter ceremoniously lifted the dome, and the aroma of meat-in-a- savory sauce, pasta in cream sauce, and glazed carrots was shockingly similar to divesting those little plastic trays of their tin foil....

                                                            1. If airline food was good, standup comics would have nothing to joke about. :)

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: 4X4

                                                                Try watching someone besides Seinfeld some time.

                                                              2. Here is the definitive site: photos, menus, amenities, what the crew eats, and cabin shots of all the world's airlines (North Korea's Air Koryo seems to have dropped out since I last visited the site. No great loss.) Enjoy.

                                                                http://www.airplanefood.net/photo/air...

                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: Chefpaulo

                                                                  That points out something. In economy all the food arrives at once and it's a very tight fit. I'm guessing that effects the 'enjoyment' and therefore perhaps the taste. Once you remove covers, unwrap 'silverware' etc. there's hardly any space whatsoever.

                                                                  I'll also mention that lately it seems that the offerings are no longer "meat or chicken" but rather "chicken or vegetarian pasta."

                                                                  1. re: Chefpaulo

                                                                    According to the sole photo I have of an Air Koryo meal, it consisted of ginger ale and a tuna and cheese sandwich. By far, it was not the worst airline meal I've had.

                                                                  2. I wonder what the astronauts on the ISS must be thinking as they read (and post?) on this thread.

                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                      as they slurp their replicated goo? must be thinking what a bunch of texturo-philes we are.

                                                                       
                                                                      1. The main reason airplane food is bad is that the airlines are making it very cheaply. Food on first class usually is very good. Food on many non-US airlines is very good.

                                                                        Better to pick up food at the airport before getting on board. It will taste almost exactly the same at 35k feet that it does on the ground.

                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                        1. re: calumin

                                                                          no, actualy, it won't -- there are articles too numerous to mention detailing how the recirculated, dry air and change in pressure alter how we taste.

                                                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                                                              I just had a sandwich today on the airplane. It's fine. The problem with some of these articles is that they they spend more time trying to explain why something is true based on some dubious science, rather than empirically test whether it's true to the extent that anyone cares.

                                                                              From the article linked by the OP:

                                                                              “If you were to serve a nice breast of chicken, which you can do on board, within a minute or two, the chicken would be like sawdust."

                                                                              Just a bit hyperbolic?

                                                                          1. My other question is -- does anyone really get on an airplane expecting great food?

                                                                            Maybe it's managing expectations, not outcomes.

                                                                            17 Replies
                                                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                                                              Very true. And as a little side note, I rarely see people turning away the food or not eating a good bit of it :)

                                                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                                                I would be one of those! As I said above, I might eat the roll - after warming it a bit on top of the hot foil cover of the dinner! That is usually it!

                                                                                1. re: RUK

                                                                                  Yeah, Bob mostly always eats the roll but I'm not a real bread for the sake of bread person so I never touch that.

                                                                                  Because we live in CA and travel internationally usually east or south, our long haul flights are generally at night. I just want the whole drink/meal service to be over so I can try to sleep a few hours. I guess I've just done a better job than some with that "managing expectations" that sunshine mentioned above.

                                                                                  1. re: RUK

                                                                                    Yah, ditto. That stuff always fucks me up, so I stay away from it.

                                                                                    I'd rather skip a meal than deal with that crap.

                                                                                    1. re: linguafood

                                                                                      I have such an iron constitution that nothing bothers me really.

                                                                                        1. re: linguafood

                                                                                          'Cept I'm "plump" and I'm bettin' you aren't :)

                                                                                          1. re: c oliver

                                                                                            Plump is in the eye of the beholder, and doesn't (unfortunately) have much to do with how our insides work.

                                                                                            And anyway, as the saying in Germany goes "A woman without a belly is like a sky without stars."

                                                                                            1. re: linguafood

                                                                                              Awwwwww :) I think I need to visit Germany :)

                                                                                  2. re: c oliver

                                                                                    You know the old joke: "The food on that plane was horrible! And they didn't give you enough!"

                                                                                  3. re: sunshine842

                                                                                    On a recent R/T from NYC to Madison Wisconsin, all four flights I got a package of Biscoff cookies. Pure bliss. I was happy.

                                                                                      1. re: John E.

                                                                                        Yes, both ways. Didn't find anywhere in the Detroit ariport worth eating.

                                                                                        1. re: TrishUntrapped

                                                                                          I was at Detroit for a two hour layover on the way to New Orleans and had not eaten anything that day. I was really hungry, hungry enough to eat Quiznos.

                                                                                          1. re: John E.

                                                                                            Sad Detroit doesn't offer better things. The place is huge. Barely made it across the whole place during one of the layovers. Moving sidewalks help a bit.

                                                                                            1. re: TrishUntrapped

                                                                                              The Minneapolis-St. Paul airport has local restaurants with locations at the airport. Andrew Zimmern has a sandwich shop there. One of last season's Top Chef contestants is the executive chef of a Japanese restaurant at the airport.

                                                                                  4. You can order a special meal such as vegetarian, kosher, Indian vegetarian (usually good on British Airways). You get served first which is great, and for some reason you don't get the icky desserts but fresh fruit.

                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: smartie

                                                                                      but you usually have to order at booking, not on the plane.

                                                                                      1. re: hill food

                                                                                        Yes, or at least 48 hours before departure, IIRC. Once you're on the plane, you get chicken or pasta.

                                                                                        1. re: hill food

                                                                                          Yah, I once made the mistake of ordering the vegetarian meal. It was worse than the regular choice. Feh.

                                                                                          1. re: linguafood

                                                                                            Yeah, I'd rather have overcooked meat than overcooked vegs :(

                                                                                      2. Yeah its true . May be because of pressurization effect!:)

                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                        1. re: jhoni123

                                                                                          Yah, that's kinda what the article was pointing to. Did you read the link?

                                                                                        2. Dunno about anyone else, but my cereal tasted just as good 36,000 feet up in the air as it does at sea level.

                                                                                           
                                                                                          17 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                            wow -- who were you flying that served that? Obviously not back in steerage.

                                                                                            If breakfast looked like that on my flights, I might not even bitch about the crummy coffee. (maybe)

                                                                                            1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                              United has usu. been one of the better domestics for a cross-country (haven't tried Jet Blue yet and US Air has become a crap shoot)

                                                                                              1. re: hill food

                                                                                                Southwest is my airline of choice for cross country. They are VERY generous with the peanuts! And I could make a meal just out of that.

                                                                                                1. re: coll

                                                                                                  I was on a SWA flight one time from Nashville to Phoenix, and there was a group in the row in front of me that had taken that flight from Pittsburgh at around 7:30 a.m. local time and their final destination was going to be San Diego (with connections through Boston, DC, Orlando, Chicago, Nashville, Salt Lake City, Phoenix, Vegas), scheduled to arrive around 8:15 p.m. local time.

                                                                                                  In other words, b/c the turnaround time for SWA flights is so short (and efficient) they never deplaned inbetween legs of the flight it meant that they were going to be on a SWA plane for something like 15 straight hours. That's a lot of peanuts.

                                                                                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                    I can handle it ;-) I seem to remember they had (or sold) sandwiches and potato chips too.

                                                                                                    It's been a few years since we were on a plane, but something might be coming up this summer, and Southwest isn't an option, so I am at a loss.

                                                                                                    1. re: coll

                                                                                                      Southwest is fine for 1 - 2 hour short flights, but after that
                                                                                                      the extra stops and changing planes is not fun.

                                                                                                      I don't remember them ever having any other food than the peanuts. They serve drinks though, and as a frequent flyer I would often get free drink tickets.

                                                                                                      I was once a a SW flight where they announced that they would not be serving the peanuts because of a passenger who had an allergy. Big disappointment to everyone else. :)

                                                                                                      1. re: pamf

                                                                                                        "I was once on a SW flight where they announced that they would not be serving the peanuts because of a passenger who had an allergy. "

                                                                                                        Yikes. That sounds like it could become an "angry mob" situation! If one is allergic it might just be best to find another airline. I always thought of those peanuts as one of their trademarks. Without the peanuts it's just another airline.

                                                                                                        Those annoying stops? I've always thought of SWA as a bus service...that happens to use airplanes.

                                                                                                        1. re: pamf

                                                                                                          I'm always NY to either Dallas or Chicago, then to San Diego. I just remember the last time getting on and they gave you a bagged sandwich and maybe an apple and pretzels as you got on, but it was a few years ago, and maybe had something to do with the time of day/distance? I remember being so excited, like I won a prize!

                                                                                                      2. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                        cheap SWA flights: oh god I did that once, Caltrain from SF to San Jose, bus ride to the airport, stops in Burbank, San Diego, PHX, Dallas and Tulsa before finally getting to STL, I joked we were stopping every 60 yards. miserable. just miserable. I saved enough cash in airfare to blow it all on in-flight drinks and pour myself out of the plane (I'm a cheerful/sleepy drunk - no problem to crew or passengers).

                                                                                                    2. re: hill food

                                                                                                      Agreed that UA generally has pretty good food.

                                                                                                      Several years ago, I had to fly Delta (not my carrier of choice) and was actually excited because I had heard that Michael Chiarello was overseeing their dining program. Lets just say it was very disappointing. Oily anitpasta, greasy chicken, and yogurt parfait that was the best part of the meal.

                                                                                                    3. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                      Huh. You mean meals in BC (or FC?) are much better than in cattle class?

                                                                                                      Thanks for that stunning revelation.

                                                                                                      1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                        The article that the OP linked to presents the opposite conclusion -- that there is something inherent about being in an airplane which makes food inedible. Lots of evidence to the contrary however.

                                                                                                        1. re: calumin

                                                                                                          We ate a breakfast burrito the size of your arm last time we left San Diego, right after the plane got in the air. It was one of the most delicious meals we ever had in our lives.

                                                                                                          1. re: calumin

                                                                                                            There is something to be said about the quality of the base line, however.

                                                                                                            If you start with crappy ingredients, you'll get crappy results. Obviously, the food in BC and FC is better, period.

                                                                                                            1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                              A box of cereal and milk would probably be cheaper than what they currently usually serve in coach. And in this example, it seems the main difference is that in coach they don't give you nice bowls and eating utensils.

                                                                                                              1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                                It's not a guarantee that the food up front is better, however that can also be subjective.

                                                                                                                What Do & Co serves on Turkish (and Austrian, though I've never flown with them) in Y is consistently some of the most edible airline food I've tried. At the same time, I've had some nasty "vol-au-vent" on China Southern and Thai in business class.

                                                                                                                Also, there have been a few J class appetizers that have included something mysterious rolled around something equally mysterious, whereas in economy we know we'll be spared the dubious attempts at amuse-bouches...

                                                                                                              2. re: calumin

                                                                                                                Exactly.

                                                                                                                Cereal is good. Anywhere. At any altitude.

                                                                                                          2. Food can be good. I've had perfectly acceptable meals (in first class) on Lufthansa and Usairways,

                                                                                                            They just have to care about it...not overcook it...sauce it right.

                                                                                                            1. I tend to agree that the food on a flight, not international, is more about the distraction. It gives you something to focus on if you left your Nook in the airport restroom. You peer out into the isle and watch the flight attendant roll that cart down past the seats on the left and right. You get to see what the other passengers are choosing. Which ones are ordering the cocktails at 10:00 am. Or even get to watch someone remove a flask of vodka from their pocket to add to the complimentary tomato juice. When they finally arrive at your seat, you unfold the little tray table attached to the seat in front of you. Side note: those trays have been proven to be one of the most contaminated items on a plane, You strategically arrange everything in anticipation and then, the plane loses altitude and you lose your meal. Regardless, it kept you entertained for part of the flight.

                                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: PollyMorton

                                                                                                                Are there any US carriers remaining who serve complimentary food on domestic flights? And if it's food for purchase, isn't it all those pre-assembled boxes of different packets of food? I thought CO was about the last one to serve on domestic.

                                                                                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                  Continental was the last "legacy" carrier to serve free Y (economy) meals, but Hawaiian still does it on many routes.

                                                                                                                2. re: PollyMorton

                                                                                                                  good luck getting that flask through security. last time I did was in about 1994 and sure enough we hit turbulence right. at. that. moment. the attendant was cool and gave me a fresh G+T (I was spiking what was already a cocktail, so there was no question about smell) but it was a bit embarrassing with a splattered crotch. ehh it was SF to Burbank and I wasn't driving at either end.

                                                                                                                3. What's great about it . Knowing there is more alcohol coming. Give me three of those little bottles of wine. Help me get through this nine hour flight. 6'8" and miserable.

                                                                                                                  6 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: emglow101

                                                                                                                    yeah - why I love British Air, the attendant has never flinched when I order double scotches. I'm the type who just wants to be knocked out for the flight, I'll be cranky once I'm on the ground at Heathrow or JFK but not in the air.

                                                                                                                    1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                      I knew someone who was jetting off to his rehab stint, in search of drying out and starting anew. Alas, he also saw this flight as his last hurrah, his party in the sky before all of the parties ceased to exist for him. He bought drinks for all of the other passengers. That would ensure that he was not drinking alone. Since this was many years ago, he pulled out his monogrammed flask and continued to celebrate like the best of them. He enjoyed his meal, his libation and his smokes. Another bad habit that was tolerated back in the day. By the time that the plane landed, he was very inebriated. He proceeded to depart from the plane, waving goodbye to all of his newly found friends and proceeded to topple off the stairs leading to the platform, breaking both of his legs. An ambulance was summoned and off he went. He started his rehab after they set the casts for both of his broken legs and he has been sober ever since.

                                                                                                                      1. re: PollyMorton

                                                                                                                        I think that gets filed under "If you're gonna do it, do it 100%!"

                                                                                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                          To this day, he still walks with a slight limp. Regardless, he says he has no regrets and did it his way.

                                                                                                                          1. re: PollyMorton

                                                                                                                            that he has survived is the important part.

                                                                                                                            (pls don't ask for examples swerving off either end of that spectrum)

                                                                                                                    2. re: emglow101

                                                                                                                      hey emglow, there used to be a row in the very back of the 747 (I sought it out when smoking was still allowed) where the fuselage narrows and instead of 3 by the window, it's only two with space towards the wall, doesn't give you more legroom out front, but does allow a little more side sprawl.

                                                                                                                    3. JetBlue Mint service between JFK and LAX; just read about it last night. Features beds and the usual fancy stuff plus, germane to this thread, food by the Saxon + Parole people. I'm wondering what a "purposely built cappuccino machine" is...:

                                                                                                                      First-rate service
                                                                                                                      Mint will feature a pre-departure drink, followed by a cocktail and amuse-bouche once airborne. JetBlue, New York's Hometown Airline™, has partnered with the popular New York City-based restaurant Saxon + Parole to curate the onboard menu. Mint travelers will customize their meal by choosing among five "comfort food with a twist" offerings, served tapas-style, followed by dessert. Fresh cappuccino and espresso made from the first purposely built cappuccino machine for a U.S. airline will be available throughout the flight.

                                                                                                                      "It is a dream come true to work with such an innovative company like JetBlue and curate part of the onboard Mint experience," said Brad Farmerie, executive chef, Saxon + Parole. "Our vision from the very beginning was to create a truly memorable experience for the customer, and keep it in line with what is typical Saxon + Parole, food that is full of vibrant color and freshness, and resonates exciting and memorable flavors. My hope is that every JetBlue Mint customer will walk off the plane wondering why they have never had such a food experience in the air before."

                                                                                                                      http://investor.jetblue.com/phoenix.z...

                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: tcamp

                                                                                                                        I'm guessing that's first class only. And who on earth needs to 'go to bed' from JFK to LAX?!? :)

                                                                                                                        1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                          Oh, yeah, first class all the way. Supposedly intro fares for a few days this month at $499. I was planning a trip....

                                                                                                                          Maybe ipse already has a ticket and can fill us in.