When picking the top 10 best airlines in the world for in-flight meals, it is hard not to be biased by personal preference. For example, I love a good breakfast and for this reason, along with their “Taste of Switzerland” menu, I rank Swiss Airlines in my number one spot. Their breakfast, like breakfasts you find across any luxury hotel in Switzerland, are outstanding, coming with all the usuals along with my absolute favourite Bircher Muesli (pictured above).
It is worth mentioning that the best Bircher Muesli and probably the best breakfast that I have experienced in the world is not in Switzerland at all, but is instead at the Hotel Hermitage in Monte Carlo. One of the best hotels in the world IMHO.
If you want to pick up a travel bargain, you should read our 7 sensational secrets that ALL travellers should know (but probably don’t).
Swiss International Airlines
The food on Swiss Airlines sits happily at the top of my listing for the best airlines in the world for in-flight food. This is partially due to the aforementioned Bircher Muesli, making their breakfast my favourite airline breakfast in the world. But this accolade is also a result of their “Taste of Switzerland” menu program which is designed to highlight different regions of the country on flights throughout the year.
First Class passengers dine as if they were in a gourmet restaurant, and enjoy meals inspired by the country’s best Maîtres de Cuisine. Menus change every 3 months and may include dishes such as beef tenderloin with ofetori or Nidwalden-style mashed potatoes made with veal bacon and cheese. All meals are complemented by excellent regional wines, and of course, a selection of local cheese. Read more in my Swiss Airlines First Class Reviews.
My last Business Class flight menu choices included a dinner of salmon rillettes with grapefruit and bulgur salad to start, a main of Älper Macaroni – traditional Swiss macaroni gratin with cheese and potatoes and a pudding of crème brülée cheesecake with raspberry sauce. Ninety minutes prior to landing, breakfast was served and you could choose from a selection of seasonal fresh fruits, artisanal yoghurt, and home-made Bircher muesli, a bakery basket with a varied selection of bread, Swiss jam and honey., a selection of cheese and cold cuts as well as a warm egg dish, plus coffee, espresso, and a selection of teas. Read more in my Swiss Airlines Business Class Reviews.
Austrian Airlines offers a wonderful meal service. First, the food comes from DO & CO, a catering company that has upscale restaurants and cafés in cities like Vienna, London and New York. Then, dishes are partnered with the perfect wines.
My last Austrian Airlines Main included a starter of creamy corn soup, with olive tapanade crostini, a main course of grilled cod fish, with dijon beurre blanc, fried potatoes, oriental lentils, and leaf spinach. Dessert was a cheesecake with marinated berries, accompanied by fresh fruit cuts. All delicious! And when you need a caffeine kick, you get to choose from 11 different types of Austrian Meinl coffee.
90 minutes prior to landing, my excellent and beautifully presented breakfast was a cold meat & cheese deli platter, yoghurt, muesli, fruit salad, and 2 eggs, sunny side up with crispy bacon. One of the best breakfasts that I ever enjoyed in a Business Class cabin.
To find out more about the latest menus and food, have a read of our latest in-flight experiences in our Austrian Airlines Business Class flight reviews.
Singapore Airlines collaborates with world-acclaimed chefs who own Michelin-starred restaurants, like Singaporean culinary maestro Sam Leong, Suzanne Goin of Los Angeles’ Lucques, Carlo Cracco of the Michelin two-star restaurant of the same name in Milan, and Matthew Moran of one of Sydney’s finest restaurants.
The airline is famous for its “Book the Cook” service where you can select your gourmet main course from a premium selection of dishes at least 24 hours before departure. Economy Class passengers also benefit from the airline’s dedication to gastronomy, with appetizers like potato salad with baby shrimp and entrées such as wok-fried chicken and bamboo shoots in sesame oil.
The award-winning onboard chefs and food & beverage managers on Etihad are recruited from the finest Michelin-starred restaurants around the world. Their goal is to offer an in-flight dining experience that surpasses that of a five-star restaurant. The Mezoon Grille menu, available to Etihad’s First Class customers only, features a variety of premium produce, including beef, chicken, lamb and seafood, along with a range of delicate sauces, sides and delicious desserts, all of which are prepared to order. For more on this take a look at our Etihad First and Business Class flight reviews.
Whichever cabin you fly in, you will find that Etihad’s food is delicious and portions are always generous.
Qatar Airways has used celebrity chefs to create unique and diverse à la carte Business and First Class menu: Nobu Matsuhisa, Tom Aikens, Ramzi Choueiri, and Vineet Bhatia. Together, they spent months adapting and testing their speciality dishes for Qatar’s customers, taking into account not only flavours and spices, but how the taste buds are altered at 30,000 feet.
You can read more of my Qatar First Business Class flight reviews.
In First Class, Cathay Pacific carefully prepares and selects food by a culinary team, the dishes in all classes are a celebration of China. Those in the premium seats may see a menu of signature dishes from Hong Kong, such as slow-cooked pork with preserved Hakka mustard greens, wok-fried chicken with black bean, or Hong Kong-style curry prawns. Read more about the onboard experience in my Cathay Pacific First, Business and Premium Economy Flight Reviews.
We like that the Emirates regionally inspired menus are all presented on Royal Doulton fine bone china with Robert Welch cutlery. It is so good that you may be tempted to slip a set into your bag (cutlery not the bone china lol).
If you fly First Class, you can enjoy a sumptuous seven-course meal in the privacy of your own exclusive suite. Read more about First Class on Emirates in my flight reviews.
Meals in Business Class on Emirates is also very good, and on the A380 aircraft, premium passengers may also nibble on canapés in a wonderful bar-lounge at the rear of the plane.
Even in economy, the food is very good with starters made up from slices of smoked tuna served with marinated vegetable salad, and mains of charcoal grilled lamb brochette with cinnamon scented sauce. Sticky date pudding, cheese, biscuits, and chocolates will finish your Economy meal, which is surprisingly good.
My last transatlantic flight on United was probably my best so far in terms of food. In fact, the meal service on this flight was excellent and far exceeded all my other meal services that I had onboard other USA carriers so far. I ordered the following from the menu: A starter of smoked salmon, capers, onion, and hard-boiled egg, served with mixed greens, blueberry, papaya, strawberry, dressing and assorted breads. A Breakfast entrée of steak and eggs (e.g. grilled tenderloin, scrambled eggs, potatoes, asparagus, tomato). My dessert was vanilla ice cream with hot chocolate sauce (which was one of the items offered on a trolley rolled by the crew through the cabin).
During the flight a small walk-up bar was set up in the galley near the exit door, which offered some fresh fruits, salty and sweet snacks. One could also order a mid-flight hot bite (e.g. beef stew with rice, which tasted excellent).
Ninety minutes prior to arrival, a warm lunch was served. I choose the grilled chicken, served with tomato-basil sauce, vegetable couscous, green beans, and a side salad. Yum. Find out more in my United Airlines Business Class flight reviews.
We have flown on American Airlines in First on a number of occasions. I would describe the food as decent but not noteworthy. On my last flight in First, my meal was from the Flagship First food menu. I started off with the caviar and gazpacho. There was also a side of olives and beetroot chips. The caviar serving was quite small but tasty. The gazpacho had a bit too much of a ginger aftertaste for my liking. I ordered some salad with the Miso-Marinated Portobello for my starter. The mushroom was done quite well and was delicious. I was also impressed that they provided me with two mini-sized salt and pepper grinders.
For my main course, I had the Braised Pork Belly with a side of Brussel sprouts and choy sum. The pork belly was tender and succulent, and the honey soy glaze was adequately flavourful. The side vegetables were nice and crunchy as well. A satisfying meal, but not great.
If you fly American Airlines in Business Class, the food is tasty, although not as refined as compared to the gastronomic delights of the likes of Swiss, Singapore or Austrian Airlines.
I wish my national airline had better food. I would happily put it in position one if I could justify that the food was good. But it isn’t. Within Europe their British Airways afternoon tea is a poor effort. The food internationally is adequate but nothing special as you can read in my British Airways First Class, Business Class and Premium Economy long-haul reviews.
It is worth reading our tips to find cheap business class flights along with my top 10 Best Business Class airlines for long haul travel.
Review inspired by my friends at Luxury Travel Expert.