The world’s first in-flight meal was served on a London-Paris flight in August 1919 and consisted of sandwiches, fruit and chocolates presented to passengers in a paper box. Since then, airline food has become a source of acute distress to millions all over the world, but carriers are slowly trying to change that in a bid to woo customers in an ever more crowded market. The Chosun Ilbo has the lowdown on a few success stories.
◆ Korean Air
This year Korean Air picked up a Mercury Award, a kind of Oscar for in-flight meals, with its Bibim Noodles dish. This is the second time the airline has won the award since 1998.
◆ Asiana Airlines
Asiana's most popular dish is the Bulgogi Ssam Bap (rice and beef with vegetables for wrapping) introduced in March. According to the airline, 70 to 80 percent of customers now opt for the dish. No fewer than six different kinds of vegetables are washed with a special vegetable detergent, rinsed and wrapped in cling film for the delicacy.
◆ Singapore Airlines
The airline couldn't have a more illustrious food advisory committee: it consists of chefs Gordon Ramsay and Georges Blanc, both with three Michelin stars, and seven more of the world's best chefs. In first and business class, Peranakan cuisine can be sampled, but it has to be ordered at least 24 hours prior to boarding.
◆ Cathay Pacific Airways
Hong Kong is home to the world's tastiest Chinese cuisine. Until Dec. 31, the airline will offer food from six of them, including Yung Kee, which has become a destination in itself for its roast goose, Jade Garden, which is famous for Cantonese dishes like dim sum, and Peking Garden for Peking cuisine.
The airline offers famous German beers like Becks and Warsteiner, and to mark the World Cup in Germany, it will serve special desserts like football-shaped chocolates --though again only in business and first class.
◆ Emirates Airline
The menu on the Incheon-Dubai route changes once a month, with both Middle Eastern and Korean food available. In first class, passengers are offered little Arabic touches like kahwa -- Arabian coffee -- and dates. All food is halal and none contains pork.
◆ Thai Airways
The airline offers popular Thai dishes including hot and sour prawn soup, curries and coconut sweets.
Not surprisingly, the airline is big on curries, usually offering two kinds on rice, together with Nan or flat bread.
◆ Air France
Cheese for the French is what kimchi is for Koreans. Even in economy class, the carrier offers a selection of cheeses. In business class and first class, seven to eight cheeses are available to choose from. But the favorite among Koreans is the plain old cup Ramen (instant noodles) kept ready in the rear of the plane so passengers can enjoy a bowl whenever they want.
◆ Northwest Airlines
On flights from Tokyo to Incheon, you can taste a cute little Bibimbab hand roll made by rolling the ingredients of Bibimbab into the shape of a Japanese maki. The menu changes every three months and currently features Teriyaki chicken.
◆ United Airlines
Starbucks coffee is served in all classes.