14 economy airline meals you’ll actually want to eat
As passenger tastes change, so do the menus of airline in-flight meals (yes, even in economy class).
In fact, it’s the back of the plane that presents the most challenge, and airlines are upping their game to please palates with more than a quick snack.
Here are several airline economy meals that go beyond the usual “meat or pasta.”
Air New Zealand: Red wine braised beef with polenta
Enjoy economy-class menus from Air New Zealand’s Executive Chef Peter Gordon, a celebrated chef with restaurants in both London and Auckland. One such offering is this substantial main course: red wine braised beef with blue cheese polenta and green beans.
Alaska Airlines: Cascade Brisket Chili
Tom Douglas, a celebrated US chef, is bringing his award-winning cuisine to the skies. Alaska Airlines recently began a partnership with Douglas to introduce some of his signature flavours as purchasable meals on-board flights from Seattle, US, of 2.5 hours or longer.
American Airlines: Chicken cobb salad
On domestic flights longer than three hours in the US, American Airlines sells a range of fresh eats more filling than a can of Pringles. The chicken cobb salad combines thick slices of chicken breast with romaine lettuce, turkey bacon, corn, tomatoes, and blue cheese, with ranch dressing on the side.
Austrian Airlines: Viennese schnitzel
Upgrading your meal, but not necessarily your seat, is an option on Austrian Airlines. Economy passengers on long-haul flights may pre-order from a menu of gourmet meals (including classic Viennese schnitzel with a chocolate mousse dessert) from the chefs of Vienna-based DO & CO. Passengers flying from Austrian’s hub at Vienna Airport may even place an order at the last minute, up to one hour before departure.
Cathay Pacific: Hong Kong-style curry chicken
Served with steamed jasmine rice, salad, and Haagen-Dazs ice cream for dessert, the curry chicken is one of several economy meals on Cathay to feature traditional Hong Kong flavours. Cathay also keeps various snacks, like hot ramen noodles, available throughout the journey.
Delta Air Lines: Strawberry frozen yoghurt bars
Passengers on Delta get complimentary sandwiches and frozen yoghurt bars on transcontinental flights from New York’s JFK Airport to Seattle, Los Angeles-LAX and San Francisco.
Hawaiian Airlines: Loco moco
A signature Hawaiian dish, “Loco Moco” is a hamburger patty over steamed white rice, topped with gravy and a sunny-side-up egg.
JetBlue: Kale salad
Beyond snack boxes of packaged sweet and salty treats, you can get healthy fresh-made meals. This salad consists of cannellini beans, dried blueberries and cranberries, quinoa and grape tomatoes over chopped kale and spring greens, topped with white balsamic vinaigrette.
LAN Airlines: Hot ham and cheese breakfast
An economy class breakfast on Chile-based LAN Airlines’ long-haul routes is more than a simple croissant and jam; the traditional South American breakfast of meats and cheeses is served as a hot ham and cheese sandwich with a side of seasonal fresh fruit and a hot berry muffin.
LAN Airlines: Lasagna with malbec and flan
This is one instance when you’ll want to choose the pasta, as LAN’s Executive Chef Hugo Pantano develops the recipes for each main dish to pair best with the South American wines on-board, even in economy class. Order the lasagne and a pour of the Argentinian Malbec, and finish it off with sweet flan.
Qatar Airways: Classic Arabic mezze
From their base in Doha, Qatar Airways develops menus to showcase both international and Middle Eastern favourites. A passenger favourite around the world is the Arabic Mezze, served in all classes. Economy enjoys hummus, tabouleh, muhammara, and lahim bil agine served with Arabic bread.
TAM: Ravioli and dulce de leche cake
Like its partner airline LAN, Brazil’s TAM pairs comfort classics with South American flavours and robust wines from some of their destination cities. No matter the main dish — although the ravioli pairs excellently with the reds on TAM’s wine menu — save room for the dulce de leche dessert.
Virgin America: “Flight bites” tapas
Spanish tapas are the inspiration behind Virgin America’s boxed variety of light and fresh salads, which are complimentary. The selection changes with the seasons, but options have included edamame and ginger tartar with ponzu dressing, mozzarella and roasted tomato with capers, Lebanese chickpea salad, and Spanish chicken and artichoke salad.
Virgin Atlantic: “Marvellous mac ’n’ cheese” Kids meal from chef Lorraine Pascale
The littlest flyers aren’t forgotten on Virgin Atlantic, as the airline recently called upon British celebrity chef Lorraine Pascale to develop “fresh, nutritious, and simple meals with a home-cooked feel” for children travelling in economy class. The “Marvellous mac ‘n’ cheese” with pancetta is the far-and-away favourite, but children may also choose tender chicken strips and pea mash, sweet and sour pork, or “Mum’s chili con carne” with calypso rice.