A Growing List of Airline Meals Around the World

Categories: Gastronomy;

This aims to give everyone an idea of what you may expect once you book your flight with certain airlines. While it is something that may not influence your choice of airlines, it can give you an idea of the flavors they are serving. Besides, aren’t we all curious to see what other airlines may be dishing out to their passengers? If this leads to better air travel experiences, that would be great. If not, at least it would entertain you for five minutes.

We also want you to contribute your own photos and reviews for this post (it’s not like we are constantly found inside a plane, although that would be a nice goal). If you have anything to add, send a picture and email to [email protected].


Philippine Airlines (Philippines), Economy Class:

Philippine Airlines Airline Food

Ah yes. The Philippine’s official flag carrier. Always marred with controversy and strikes, it is still alive and kicking. There’s been a change of management somewhere around 2012, and promises to bring sweeping reforms, from the booking, pricing, and even the meals they serve.

This particular one was some time around 2011 before the catering crew strike. It seems to be a dory fish with tausi sauce and rice. While the dory is soft, the flavor doesn’t seem as thorough. And like most pre-packed meals, vegetables are soggy.

One saving factor here was the dessert. The leche flan topped with macapuno (some sort of sweetened coconut preserve) had good creaminess and sweetness. If they plan on selling this as a separate item, I bet people would get some to take home.

Philippine Airlines has some promising stuff to bring as they have not tapped famous chefs to create some magical meals. Updates on this on the next Philippine Airlines trip!


UPDATE: Philippine Airlines, Economy Class, September 2013:

Philippine Airlines Airline Food 2013-7838

It looks like Philippine Airlines is sticking to its promise.

While it is still admittedly a far cry from contending with the best the airline industry has to offer, this is leaps and bounds better than before. This particular chicken curry dish is tasty, has good texture, and the vegetables feel fresh. It also is served at an optimal temperature.

And they are the ones that got the right way to cook rice! This is a big plus for those who just need to have rice in their meals.

Gotta do something about those plastic utensils, though. Maybe because most of its clientele end up stowing it away?

Oh, and they also have one of the more engaging (and most family friendly) In-Flight Safety Video.


Philippine Airlines, Business Class, March 2013:

These are from a round-trip flight from Manila to Hong Kong. Had to use those mileages before they expire.

Philippine Airlines Business Class Meal March 2015-1345

Philippine Airlines Business Class Meal March 2015-1411

Presentation wise, it’s a slight upgrade from the hard plastic dinnerware used in the Economy Class. Taste-wise, looks like the promise of bringing better food did come true.

The omelette is cooked right preserving the eggs’ fluffiness while not becoming rubbery. The salmon was a bit overcooked, though.

A fellow passenger ordered the Hainanese Chicken Rice, and was very frustrated that the airline wasn’t able to bring with the dish the traditional dipping sauce you get with it. The airline reasoned that the caterer forgot to pack it into the plane. He wasn’t having any of it. After all, what’s Hainanese Chicken Rice without the sauces that came with it?

He was easily mellowed with their world famous “lugaw”.


Cebu Pacific (Philippines), All Classes:

Cebu Pacific Airline Food-3357

Since Cebu Pacific is a budget carrier, this does not come standard with their ticket purchases. It can be purchased for about PHP 350.00 . Currently there are options of either Barbecued Chicken or Beef Caldereta. This one in the picture is the Barbecued Chicken.

The first question you may ask: Where is the chicken? Those little shreded bits of mystery meat swimming in a cornstarch brown goo may probably be what they had in mind as chicken. You can’t taste it, nor can you even feel it as chicken. The barbecue sauce is more salty than barbecue-ey and is clearly larger in volume than the “chicken”. Also, the rice had a funny texture as if it was like it has been reheated more than three times. Oh, and don’t bother inquiring about the Caldereta. Strangely, it looks like their barbecued chicken, but with a redder sauce and same flavor.

As much as it is bad to be harsh, but it is also bad to charge consumers PHP 350.00 for what is a poor excuse to add more value into your flight experience. You might be better off sneaking in some cooked spam with biscuits, or forego a meal altogether and get closer to your God or any worshiped deity through the practice of fasting.

All in all, worst airline food as of this writing (May 5, 2013).


Emirates (United Arab Emirates), Economy Class, 2013:

Emirates Airline Food-4518 Emirates Airline Food-4541 Emirates Airline Food-6010 Emirates Airline Food-6012

As quoted from their website:

“An award winning dining experience combining the finest local ingredients with exquisite flavors and impeccable service”

And furthermore, for the Economy Class dining:

“The people of the United Arab Emirates pride themselves on their hospitality and service, and as the international airline of Dubai, so do we. That is why every delicious and satisfying meal served on Emirates is planned and prepared with the same care and the same high-quality ingredients.”

Depending on the meal, it can be quite satisfying, or sometimes it may make you wonder if the other option for your meal might have been a better choice. But one thing is sure here, their Economy Class meals are fairly good. If there is lamb on the menu, you cannot go wrong with it. It’s soft, little gamey flavor, and will satisfy. Some grilled chicken are accompanied by mashed potatoes, and the vegetables are not as soggy. The rice seemed a bit dry, though (This seems to be very consistent with other airlines. Must be a storage method to ensure it doesn’t spoil as fast.)

The interesting thing is that the meals will most often be an example of cuisine from where it has taken off (Like fish Escabeche from Manila). Loyalty into taking this airline can be quite rewarding in the food experience portion (As well as the vast in-flight entertainment, but that will be for another story)

Makes you wonder also: who is the award giving body that judges airline food?


Emirates (United Arab Emirates), Business Class, 2013:


Now we’re talking. This is, by far, the gold standard for commercial airline meals. Heck, this is the gold standard for commercial airline experience! Presentation, temperature of food, flavor, variety, it seems to be the complete package for what can currently be possible in airline food service. Mind you, this was experienced only by chance, but this was a chance one should take if given.

Oh, and you get as much champagne as responsibly possible, too!

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  1. Nikko Panti says:

    Super sad naman tignan nung meals from local airlines, gosh! Hindi ko din kinaya yung sa Cebu Pacific, I’d rather make baon. :))

    • rftreyes says:

      The PAL one is not so bad actually. I just saw some pics of meals from other US airlines and they are far worse 😛

  2. I agree… the best for me are Emirates and Japan Airlines… 🙂

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