Ever since Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin served his guests turtle bouillon, lamb chops and champagne on the world’s first international passenger flight in 1912, on-board catering has been key to winning the hearts and stomachs of top-paying passengers.
These days, about 4 million meals are consumed in the air every day. So with competition increasing between the highest-rated airlines in Asia and the Middle East, it’s no surprise that their battalions of food trolleys are in the vanguard of the fight for premium passengers.
Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. and Singapore Airlines Ltd. introduced new food and beverage offerings as they try to lure back premium passengers from carriers such as Emirates Airline and Etihad Airways PJSC that offer shower spas and luxurious suites. The Middle Eastern operators have used their geographic position at the crossroads of global flight paths to build giant transfer hubs that connect passengers between Asia and Europe and the U.S.
As the Champagne corks pop, we take a look inside the galleys of five airlines to see how each is looking to appeal to the modern road warrior.
Rated as the world’s best business class by Skytrax last year, Singapore Airlines is targeting the health conscious traveler with new dishes in first and business class that are high on protein and essential minerals.
The so-called “Deliciously Wholesome” meals use fresh vegetables, lean meat, fish, seeds, herbs and spices that the airline claims help passengers feel less tired and jet-lagged after a long trip. Under the carrier’s Book the Cook service, you can order a meal online in advance from one of Singapore’s panel of international chefs. Think spring salad bouquet of haricot vert beans, artichokes, asparagus and tomatoes with boiled eggs and roasted walnuts, designed by triple Michelin-starred Georges Blanc.
But don’t worry, there’s still a Charolais steak with foie gras, white wine and truffle Perigueux sauce to be found if you’re not so concerned about the jet lag.
Hong Kong-based Cathay teamed up with Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group last year to design a menu for its first-class cabin and has been busy adding Chinese cuisines to lure mainland flyers. Try a seasonal winter melon soup, clay pot rice and hairy crab roe, for instance.