Finding good food on a domestic flight is just about as rare as a traveler arriving to the airport to find no line at security. A great tasting and satisfying in-flight dish is a rarity up in the friendly skies, but that’s not to say that the U.S. carriers aren’t trying, at least according to expert Nik Loukas. As the founder of the website InFlightFeed, this foodie has made it his job to taste and test out menu items from 150 airlines around the world. During his recent travels here in the states, he discovered a few diamonds in the rough, including in-flight menus that source locally from their home bases and those that have called upon chefs like Tom Colicchio and brands like Blue Marble Ice Cream to help up their onboard sustenance game. Below, Loukas divulges his favorite thus far, so that this stressful holiday travel season you can at least have a delectable meal to look forward to on your journey.
“If passengers are fortunate enough to fly with Delta in the premium cabins this holiday season, they could be in for a local surprise depending on where they’re flying to or from. I was flying from Seattle to Los Angeles in September with Delta and I booked business class to check out the inflight meals. The day before, I was walking around Pike Place Market and to my delight, I was served a meal that was sourced from Pike Place Market on board—clam chowder, Cajun spiced salmon with fettuccini, and a macaroon for dessert. If you’re flying economy with Delta however, don’t despair: They have teamed up with Luvo to offer a great range of low-calorie wraps. If flying further afield, expect meals created by chef Masatoshi Ishimoto, served on transpacific flights.”
“This airline is really trying to improve business and first-class dining. This season, flyers in first-class cabins can expect to be served dishes that have been created by Dallas-based chef Julian Barsotti.”
“I’m a big fan of their Mint class offerings, which include products from New York–based companies like Mah-Ze-Dahr Bakery/A Colicchio Discovery, Blue Marble Ice Cream, and coffee from Brooklyn Roasting Company. They also serve dishes from Saxon + Parole like buttermilk pancakes with poached pear, pomegranate seeds, and crème fraiche, as well as a kale cobb salad with confit chicken, tomato, bacon, avocado, blue cheese, and green goddess dressing.”
“Alaska Airlines has worked with Seattle restaurateur Tom Douglas for years and his creations like a delicious smoky barbecue chicken sandwich and Hawaiian breakfast with rice, scrambled eggs, and chicken in a sweet and savory sauce on Hawaiian flights shouldn’t be missed.”
“Speaking of Hawaii, this is the only airline in the U.S. to offer free meals in economy class. I’m talking proper airline meals here, created by the famed chef Chai Chaowasaree. The dishes include ginger chicken with green peas, carrots, corn, steamed white rice, a mixed bean salad, and a guava cookie. In first class they also have an amazing coconut tapioca, yogurt, and fruit parfait for dessert.”