Traveling can be a burden, but airlines have been making it more and more convenient as the years pass. Some companies in particular go to crazy lengths to serve their customers, with full-service bars, celebrity-chef curated food options, and even in-flight chefs to cook you your food. This all sounds pretty great, but what’s wild is that we weren’t even talking about first class yet. However, we have to because there’s amazing food to be had. Here are some of the airlines with totally bonkers first class meals you have to see to believe.
Emirates Airlines is known for their complimentary champagne almost as soon as you walk on board, but they also have some incredible food offerings. The real question is, where do we start? Let’s go with logistics. Two things you’ll find in every Emirates first class section is a) a fully stocked mini bar at your seat, and b) a full-service bar in the cabin. For breakfast, they serve items like French toast with poached peaches and vanilla mascarpone, in addition to a bevy of boozy cocktail options like their staple martini of gin over ice with marmalade, orange, and Cointreau, or their espresso martini made with coffee tequila, Amaretto foam, and a shot of espresso. For lunch and dinner, there is the option for a seven-course tasting menu that is served on fine china, to boot. Highlights from this menu include stir-fried lobster in black bean sauce, and a rotating, region-specific wine and champagne list that is unique to each starting city location.
2. Etihad Airways
Etihad Airways, which is one of the largest airline carriers serving the United Arab Emirates, boasts an in-flight chef program. This means the airline has recruited over 100 trained chefs who are aboard each flight to cook food for you right before your eyes. Etihad is especially known for their legendary breakfast. If you’re an egg fan, you’re in luck because you can get eggs made any way you like, from soft-boiled, to poached, or just plain old fried. You can also order a full English breakfast, fit with the customary baked beans, mushrooms, sausage, and tomato, or you can upgrade for king oyster mushrooms and hash browns. Might just take Etihad for the in-flight breakfast, tbh.
3. Singapore Airlines
Singapore Airlines has been legendary in the first-class food department for quite some time. At one point, they recruited famed chef Gordon Ramsay to curate their menu. Now they have a service called “Book the Cook,” where you can choose your meal in advance, so it’s ready and waiting for you whenever you get hungry. When it comes to the actual food options, they are totally drool-worthy. If you’re feeling like a baller, you can go for the pecan-crusted veal served with candied sweet potatoes and red onion marmalade that’s paired with Dom Perignon. If you’re feeling something ethnic, there’s always the baked Chilean sea bass in XO sauce, beef rendang, or prawn and chicken laksa. On top of it all, Singapore Airlines caters to literally any special diet that exists, including Kosher Vegetarian, Ovo-Lacto Diet, Ulcer Diet, and Non-Strict Nut Free. We’re not even sure what half of those are. Btw, we forgot to mention they also serve Wagyu beef. This is literally insane.
4. JetBlue Mint
We just want to preface this entry by saying we didn’t know JetBlue Mint was even a thing, but their food selections are so ridic we can solemnly say our lives are changed for the better. The menu stays true to its American roots by featuring cuisine from famous New York City eateries like Brooklyn Roasting Company, Saxon + Parole, and Blue Marble Ice Cream. The airline also hired a staff wine specialist, who ensures all wine selections are native to the Napa Valley, which has been known to produce some of the best wine on the market. Highlights from the food menu include red wine poached pear with vanilla yogurt and toasted granola, feta frittata, and polenta with tomato caper sauce and artichoke.
5. British Airways
The food found in the first class section of British Airways is so bougie we can’t even deal. At one point, the menu was designed by celebrity Michelin-starred chef, Heston Blumenthal. While the menu items change frequently, British Airways has been known to serve Gressingham duck with caramelized apple, parsley sauce, and braised kohlrabi, and lemon-cured salmon gravlax with caviar. The airline is also famous for their first class high tea accompanied by cakes, sandwiches, and teas from around the world, their impeccable cheese offerings, and their delicious scones with clotted cream and preserves. Bonus points: the scones are freshly baked on the aircraft.
Qantas, which calls Australia its home base, cooks every single food item fresh on the plane whereas many airlines are known to just reheat previously cooked items in a microwave or toaster oven. This is impressive in its own right, but once we share some of their staple items, you’ll wonder how this feat is even possible. Sample menu items found on the first class menu include venison carpaccio salad, pan-fried blue-eyed filet with black bean, and linguine with roasted butternut, pine nuts, and sage butter. For dessert, they have baked lemon pudding with plums, and fresh chocolate macarons with raspberries. Seriously, how is this possible? Might be some Aussie magic.
7. Swiss Airlines
Swiss Airlines has a pretty strong in-flight menu, but they really shine in the finer touches. For example, each meal, regardless of what you order, is accompanied by a selection of fresh cheeses and Sprüngli chocolates. They also offer an optional wine pairing alongside their refined meal offerings like seared beef tenderloin with lobster slaw, crab cocktail, and watercress butter. Another novelty is the fact that Swiss Airlines worked with a restaurant called Hiltl to provide vegetarian meals to customers who follow a meat-free diet. Hiltl just so happens to be the world’s first vegetarian restaurant in existence, and it’s clear the Swiss share great pride in that.
8. Cathay Pacific
Even though Cathay Pacific is based out of Hong Kong, they serve food items from all over the world. Standout options include ricotta ravioli with tomato ragu and arugula, and chicken breast with chanterelle mushrooms and lemon confit. If you want an Asian-inspired dish, they also serve items like chicken with soy sauce, steamed rice and shiitake mushrooms. All of these superior food items are made possible by the airline’s extensive kitchens, which have been known to have basically any appliance you could ever need, including rice cookers, steam ovens, and toasters. Cathay Pacific also has a pretty impressive wine program, which is evidenced by the fact that 1.65 million bottles of wine were consumed by the airline’s passengers in 2013.
9. Qatar Airways
Qatar Airways really goes above and beyond by recruiting not just one Michelin-starred chef to design their menu, but four. These chefs include Tom Aikens, Ramzi Choueiri, Nobu Matsuhisa and Vineet Bhatia, who specialize in French, Middle Eastern, Japanese, and Indian cuisines, respectively. These chefs have created dishes like the mixed grill with lamb chops and kefta, chicken tikka with saffron rice, oven-roasted salmon, and daal with cucumber and carrot salad. Qatar Airways also has a committee entirely devoted to wine comprised of two International Masters of Wine, who convene bi-annually to redesign the menu.