- Airline food tastes different at 35,000 feet due to reduced humidity, air pressure, and background noise, leading to added salt and spices for flavor.
- Air France and British Airways serve Michelin star-level meals in their first and business class cabins, offering elevated versions of traditional French and British dishes.
- Turkish Airlines and Singapore Airlines also prioritize high-quality inflight meals.
When it comes to airline meals, they can vary greatly depending on the airline and which class of service you are flying. With this in mind, today, we look at industry standards and see if any airlines serve Michelin star-level food.
Generally speaking, airline food gets a bad rap, but it is not entirely the airline’s fault because, at 35,000 feet, our taste buds and sense of smell are greatly diminished. How we determine the flavor and our perception of sweetness and saltiness drops significantly when we are inside a pressurized cabin.
Food smells and tastes different at 35,000 feet
Because of this, food and drink taste entirely different than they do on the ground. This is due to a lack of humidity, air pressure, and background noise. The first thing to go is your sense of smell, and as the aircraft gains altitude, the humidity in the cabin can be 12% dryer than in most deserts. To combat this, airlines give their inflight meals added flavor by adding extra salt and spices.
Photo: British Airways.
Because of food safety standards, all airline meals must be prepared and cooked on the ground and then reheated once in the air. This is a mammoth task leading airlines to create their own catering departments or outsource to companies like Gate Gourmet and Do & Co.
It also does not help airlines that we are a generation obsessed with smartphones and sharing our experiences on social media. A photo of a lousy airline meal on Instagram can be why someone might choose one airline over another. Anyway, with all that said, let’s look and see which airlines come the closest to offering Michelin-star dining at 35,000 feet.
With France famous for its cuisine bourgeoise of the urban elites, it is no surprise that French national flag carrier Air France serves meals concocted by Michelin star celebrity chefs. For its La Première and business class customers, Air France offers a menu inspired by the essence of fine dining.
Compiled by Parisian chef Thierry Marx from the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, the Air France meals take traditional French dishes and elevate them to the next level. The food is of such a high standard that Air France was named the world’s best first class dining experience by the Skytrax World Airline Awards.
While the United Kingdom may not be well known for its gourmet food, over the past couple of decades, London and its Michelin-star restaurants have gotten a reputation for being some of the world’s best. British Airways employed Michelin-starred chef Tom Kerridge to create a unique menu to bring Michelin-star dining to its first and business class customers.
What we like about the menu is its simplicity, allowing the ingredients to speak for themselves. Uniquely British favorites include an organic Plowman’s lunch with smoked cheese and ham and everyone’s favorite steak and ale pie.
If you have ever flown with Turkish Airlines, you will know that their food offerings are some of the best in the sky. Prepared according to the seasons with locally sourced ingredients, Turkish Airlines chefs create meals that will make you choose Turkish Airlines every time you fly.
Turkish cuisine is unique because modern-day food is essentially the heritage of the country’s Ottoman Empire. At its height in the late seventeenth century, it stretched from Asia to Hungary, encompassing Arabia and North Africa.
This has created a fusion of Central Asian, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, and Balkan fusion dishes like Saksuka, Inegol kofte, Borek, Pide, and Baklava. Turkish Airlines The Flying Chefs program won Turkish Airlines the 2023 Skytrax award for best business class onboard catering.
Derived and developed over the centuries from several ethnic groups, the food scene in Singapore is a national obsession. When planning its business class menus, Singapore Airlines turns to five world-renowned Michelin star chefs: Georges Blanc, Sanjeev Kapoor, Yoshihiro Murata, Zhu Jun, and the youngest Australian chef ever to be awarded One Chef’s Hat, Matt Moran.
Photo: Singapore Airlines.
Singapore Airlines offers what it calls “Book the Cook,” where you select a menu inspired by the chefs mentioned above. What is good about this is that you can choose your meal 24 hours before departure and know precisely what you will eat on the flight.
Source: Robb Report