Flying business or first class is definitely a treat.The abundant access to luxury comes in form of beds, complimentary drinks, better entertainment, privacy and personal space, on-ground lounges and so much more. For the most part, not a lot of travelers pay attention to flight food, but we do think it makes a difference when you know what to expect. Here’s a list of the top 11 current menus making the rounds up in the air, as compiled by The Condé Nast Traveler Magazine. Bon Appétit!
11. Virgin America First Class
Food Specialty: The current menu for the trans-North American airlines has a special Chicken and Artichoke dish that is at the top of the list of favorites from their ever changing menu. The tender chicken breast is marinated with herbs and cooked with giant beans and served with seared artichoke, roasted radishes and caramelized fennel. The dish is also topped with sherry chicken jus. The alternative to the chicken is a Korean ‘mixed rice’ (bibimbap) and coq au vin with some slow braised short rib which is also quite the meal.
The experience: Virgin America flights are built for short-haul distances and hence don’t have stretch out beds but they do make up for that with spacious leg-room and recliners. Every chair has a personal entertainment system that also has the option to get movies, music etc. on-demand so travelers are not limited by choices. Priority check-ins and securities ensure you get special treatment from the ground onwards.
10. Austrian Airlines Business Class
Food Specialty: Besides the onboard flying chef that adds personal touches to every meal or the sommeliers that help pick wines for meals, the coffee house is the real limelight stealer. Aboard, business class passengers can choose from 10 different kinds of coffees, all freshly brewed and native to Vienna. The coffee is served with traditional Austrian bundt cake. And of course, you could get seconds.
The experience: Austrian Airlines Business Class passengers get a wide variety of special wines to choose from for their meal or recreational purposes. The long-haul flights also come with air cushions that resemble normal bed mattress. Besides access to the latest entertainment the seat also has an integrated massage function for the utmost relaxation. The comfort kit, which includes personal amenities, as well as the personal cabins are all Austrian themed.
9. Alaskan Airlines First Class
Food Specialty: A common breakfast dish is apparently the most requested on the flight – Granola. Besides the rolled oats, roasted sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, brown sugar, dried cranberries and fresh blueberries make this granola mix a sweet healthy meal for the start of any day.
The experience: The single person recliner seats also come with an adjustable headrest. Free Wi-Fi is a part of the on-flight entertainment. Every passenger also gets their own personal flight attendant to see to whatever needs you have, even if you just need somebody to talk to. The first class tickets are refundable and flexible to fit every passenger’s schedules and an added bonus is the additional miles over and above the regular miles passengers stand to gain with every ticket.
8. JetBlue Mint Premium Class
Food Specialty: All the meals on board the JetBlue Mint Premium Class are supplied by their partners and famous Manhattan restaurant, Saxon and Parole. Frequent travelers can expect all their experiences to be different as the menus are updated and changed regularly. Dessert is supplied by Mah-Ze-Dahr bakery and Blue Marble Ice Cream, both, leaving the sweet toothed spoiled for choice.
The experience: Though JetBlue is not an international carrier and the longest flight would be from New York to LA, the premium class may make one wish, they could stay on for a while longer. The seats are integrated with a massage feature and another to adjust the firmness of the seat to fit your needs, especially if you want to lie down. Entertainment also includes an in-flight internet connection. The airlines gives every premium class passenger an amenities kit from Birchbox – a big cosmetics and beauty brand, that contains some grooming and lifestyle not only for women, but for men too. At the end of the flight, premium class travelers are bid adieu with artisan chocolates and the promise of their baggage being the first to arrive at the carousel.
7. Qatar Airways Business Class
Food Specialty: The business class meals are the handiwork of chef Nobu Matsuhisa. His most praised main course is the yellowtail teriyaki which is fillets of the yellowtail amberjack cooked in teriyaki and truffle sauce along with sweet potatoes, roasted cherry tomatoes and okra. Though Chef Nobu makes a whole array of dishes including dessert, this meal is a favorite and staple for many.
The experience: The business class aboard Qatar Airways breaths comfort right from the personal storage space to the personal cabins to the linen supplied by the Italian luxury brand Frette. Besides the double screen touch interactive entertainment system, since it is the business class, wi-fi, on air mobile service, and a bigger desk support passengers’ needs to stay updated and be productive. The personal staff are always available to help one do so with unlimited drinks and in general, to make sure everyone is at their most relaxed state of mind. The beds, designer sleepwear and Giorgio Armani amenities are some of the finer luxuries on board.
6. LAN Airlines Premium Business
Food Specialty: The airlines might not have outstanding amenities to offer, even for the premium class, but it does serve the best beef on flight along with a good selection of South American wine. The beef, no matter what version of the dish, is always cooked to perfection, so simple yet packed with flavor is always served with the freshest vegetable produce of the season. The Brazilian churassco Beef Fillet with potatoes à la dauphinoise aboard the partner TAM Premium Business is an example of excellent beef. For dessert, passengers can choose between the caramel flan and the dulce de leche torte or just get both. The LAN premium business definitely makes up in food what it lacks otherwise.
The experience: This South American Airlines is one of the biggest in the region and has been trying to make its way up it to the luxury niche. The premium business section has bed converting seats and a personal cabin to ensure privacy and rest. Personal flight attendants are also available to every passenger to make sure they have the best experience.
5. Cathay Pacific First Class
Food Specialty: Every month, Cathay Pacific has a new menu aboard the First class which are specially designed by the star chef from one of the Mandarin Oriental hotels. The menus are planned to match the season and specialties of whichever hotel is in-charge of the menu for that month. The chicken breast, roasted with braised cannellini beans, chanterelles and lemon confit from the Mandarin Oriental San Francisco had left quite the mark on passengers’ palettes.
The experience: On board Cathay Pacific first class, every cabin is fitted with an LCD touchscreen, from where the passenger can control and adjust the seat, bed, and lights at ease. Every first class passenger gets a cotton night suit designed and made by PYE Hongkong. The personal amenities, like skin care and toiletries, come from Aesop in pouches made by Ermenegildo Zegna for men and Trussardi for women. A wide screen TV and BOSE headphones are part of every cabin. Cathay truly knows how to let its flyers travel in class.
4. Virgin Atlantic Upper Class
Food Specialty: The Thai Beef Salad is the best option for those looking for a tasty but healthy meal. Created by Lorraine Pascale, British celebrity chef known for healthy eating recipes, the beef is dressed with roasted pine nuts and topped with a chili dressing. Besides that the on flight meals are good, but Virgin Atlantic prides itself on being proper British. The tea time during day flights aboard the first class is the best and is when the stewardess comes around with trays of finger sandwiches, cakes, jam and cream scones, breads and a good English cuppa.
The experience: The Upper Class Suite boasts of a futuristic bar, which encourages and was built with the idea of passengers being able to socialize with one another in a more open space. The multiway recliner lets passenger sit comfortably and switch positions with ease. The recliner also stretches out into a full sized bed with soft mattress to help passengers sleep well. The cabins have entertainment facilities like a personal screen as well as connecting points for travelers to work. Each cabin also has an extra seat, just in case you have visitors. Travelers can also enjoy a complimentary chauffer service (airport transfers) on ground.
Food Speciality: Being a Japanese airline, they take pride in serving authentic Japanese meals to all their passengers. The Koura Yaki is fondly remembered not because of its name but because of its almost exotic preparation and ingredients. The dish is a made from crab meat and crab butter wrapped in egg and fried tofu filled with rice and some veggies as an accompaniment.
The experience: This 5-star Japanese airline offers travelers comfort in the form of bed pad – a comfortable mattress that can also be used as a seat cushion. Along with the bed pad, comes a body quilt and a pillow that are built to help you sleep better. Passengers also get slippers to make you feel at home, aroma cards to help you relax and a letter set. Other amenities include a L’Occitane kit with a serum and a lip balm and other small comforts like earplugs, eye masks and cotton pads. Light sweatshirts and foot massagers are available as rentals.
2. Hawaiian Airlines First Class
Food Specialty: The meals aboard the first class are the works of Chef Chai Chaowasaree and are a combination of Asia and North American cuisine, since most of Hawaiian food is a mixture of the two. Filipino Beef Kare Kare is a special dish that has been doing the rounds on most of the airline’s routes and has gotten excellent reviews so far. The pork leg and oxtail stew with tripe is slow cooked in a cashew sauce and served with asparagus, roasted potatoes and carrots.
The experience: First Class travelers aboard Hawaiian Airlines are served complimentary drinks; unlimited drinks are available only on long-haul flights. For entertainment purposes, every person in the first class is given a personal tablet and only a set of specially trained cabin crew are at the service of first class travelers.
Food Specialty: Meals are served in Givenchy tableware and crystalware but that’s not the highlight. Taking air travel to another level, the Singapore Airline Suites allows passengers to ‘Book the Cook’ to ensure they have a special meal crafted for them. With this service, passengers can enjoy whatever they feel like from more than 60 dishes on their panel, whether it be comfort or healthy food or just something they’ve never had before, and all it takes is a booking at least 24 hours before take-off.
The experience: The Singapore Airline Suites are definitely state of the art. It’s not just a personal cabin, is a personal suite that has doors and blinds to control your privacy. The suite has a lot of firsts for air travel, like the bed, which unlike other premium flight services is not a seat converted into a bed, and the 23” personal television in every suite. With all that opulence, expect everything, from the linen to the amenities to be designer labelled.