Memorable Airline Meals

United Airlines Caprese sandwichUnited Airlines recently announced plans to introduce better food options to first-class travelers on flights of at least 800 miles. New menu items will include meals such as a chicken and mozzarella sandwich and heartier salads. The decision came on the heels of American Airlines’ announcement that it is taking the opposite approach—getting rid of full meals for first-class passengers on shorter journeys.

We asked staff members at Academic Arrangements Abroad  to share their stories about the best and worst food they’ve sampled while flying the friendly (or not-so-friendly) skies.


Turkish Airlines has fantastic food (and serves Turkish Delight)!” says Olivia Balsinger, an Assistant Tour Coordinator at Arrangements Abroad.

Writer Ingrid Ahlgren recalls that there was good cuisine on Scandinavian carrier SAS in the 1990s, when she studied abroad in Sweden. “I don’t remember exactly what the meal was, but I remember that there was an appetizer with smoked fish and a hot entrée,” she says.

Indra Purmale, Manager of Operations, recently flew on SAS for the company’s Baltic trip. “I agree on their good quality food,” she says. “No smoked fish, but they had this amazing cheese.”

“United Overwater DC-8 First Class with huge tan leather seats and a real kitchen serving prime rib, hericot vert, garlic fingerling potatoes, vanilla flan, served on china plates with metal flatware circa 1989,” says Tom Cawley, Chief Financial Officer. “Abundant hot towels scented with lime for the hands and face.  All for the fantastic upgrade premium of $100 over full fare economy for travelers at the top of the airline’s Mileage Plus program.”


“I actually don’t fly American Airlines because they are so cheap with their meal,” says Balsinger.

Ahlgren says that her worst airplane meal was on a domestic Thai airline (not award-winning Thai Airways) in the 1980s. “It included some sort of egg that was boiled in syrup,” she says. “The Thai travelers seemed to like it, but I wasn’t a fan. Also, there was a smoking section on the plane, and the fumes wafting into the rest of the cabin made the meal even less appetizing.”

“Not really bad, just frozen solid,” says Cawley. “Inaugural PeopleExpress flight from Newark to Gatwick in May, 1983, $149 each way, an all First Class configuration 747 leased from the Braniff bankruptcy estate.  Box lunch, $6.  By the time it thawed, all was inedible.  Carrots were translucent from frost.”

Haven’t gotten your fill of airline meals? Check out website AirlineMeals, or take a look at this slide show on CN Traveler.

United Airlines Strawberry Fields Salad


One thought on “Memorable Airline Meals

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