Airline Food Is Getting Classy

Why airlines are splurging for decadent in-flight meals

Abu Dhabi-based airline Etihad may be the first to kick-start the airline gourmet trend: The New York Times reports that airlines, in the midst of a downward market trend, are investing more in better in-flight food.

After years of scrapping in-flight meals and selling sugary sodas and chips for profit, many airlines are splurging to attract business and first-class passengers with better-tasting foods. Case in point: Air France's menu of Basque shrimp and tumeric-scented pasta, created by Michelin-starred chef Joël Robuchon. And Lufthansa Airlines paired with the Mandarin Oriental hotel chain to cater its U.S. and Germany flights.

Another example is Turkish Airlines, now known as the "foodie" airline for its Flying Chef program and five-star cuisine for business class passengers. The airline, which was recently selected as Europe's Best Airline by Skytrax, recently won over survey respondants with an 86 percent food approval rating.

The main hurdle airlines have to face, says The New York Times, is cost. Even shaving one ounce off their steaks saved Delta $25,000 per year. But for the chefs and caterers preparing the meals, cooking for an airline can be a logistical and culinary challenge — it took Delta's chef, celebrity chef Michael Chiarello, six months to prepare a new menu.

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