Airline food through the ages

By | Category: Travel rumblings, Travel tips & opinions

Keith Lovegrove looks at how airline food has changed since the 1920s

In the early 1920s, refreshment on board a converted Handley Page bomber consisted of a flask of coffee and, for an extra three shillings, a lunch box containing a sandwich, fruit and chocolate. By the late 1920s, Lufthansa became the first airline to provide hot meals on its Berlin-to-Vienna express route. On board the Rayon d’Or route from Paris to London in the 1930s, Air Union served de luxe cuisine on fine bone china. Tables were laid with crisp white linen, cut crystal glasses and a vase of fresh flowers. Now, the award-winning ‘cheferati’ command healthy consultancy fees for planning inflight menus and vintners suggest a suitable vintage with which to wash down the ragout and roasted root vegetables. However, it is not all Bacchanalia in the skies – some short-haul routes offer the passenger nothing more than a warmed panini.

In the highly competitive market of commercial aviation, food and drink is one of the most important attractions for the passenger. When boredom and discomfort set in, the chance to unpack the cutlery and sample the fare is a welcome distraction. Back on the ground, airline food is a popular subject among the recently disembarked clientele; if the refreshments are poor the message gets passed on – a good enough reason to choose an alternative airline for the next trip.

Conversely, if the food is appreciated then recommendations ensue. Certainly eating is one of the essentials of life, but in the air it is much more about entertainment.

Extract taken from Airline: Style at 30,000 Feet by Keith Lovegrove (£9.95; Laurence King)

Tags: , , , , , , ,