One of the main benefits of flying in business or first class is meal service times. Instead of getting a meal in a tin tray and a drink in a tiny plastic cup, premium cabin flyers get fine china, real flatware and only choice spirits in an actual glass. While most of the time the food isn’t much of an improvement, some airlines are stepping up their culinary offerings at 30,000 feet above the earth.
If you’ve ever dreamed of dining on chef-inspired dishes, these airlines may be able to accommodate. Before your next flight in premium class aboard these airlines, be sure to check and see if they give you the option to select your meal prior to departure.
American was the first U.S.-based carrier to offer meal selection for premium cabin customers prior to departure – a luxury previously reserved for travel on international carriers. If you are flying in first or business class, you may be able to request a specific menu item up to 24 hours before your flight.
How to reserve: To request a meal, simply log in to your AAdvantage account or revisit your reservation online using your record locator code. You can also call the airline to find out if meal orders are available. Meals may be requested between 30 days and up to 24 hours before a flight.
Star Alliance member All Nippon Airways recently made “significant changes” to their business class meal ordering service. Instead of offering two choices to ANA Mileage Club members, everyone flying in the premium cabin now gets to pre-order their meal with multiple choices available, depending on the route.
How to reserve: The only way to reserve business class meals on ANA is through their website – flyers can’t call on the phone to request a meal option. Meals must be pre-ordered no more than 24 hours before departure and is subject to availability.
The British flag carrier allows nearly all flyers departing from London Heathrow Airport (LHR) to select their onboard dining options before departure. While first and business class options are complimentary, economy class options may be purchased ahead, including a choice of beverage.
How to reserve: Meal reservations must be done online by accessing your booking. On flights that offer advance meal selection, choices can be made starting 30 days before departure and up to 24 hours before the scheduled departure time. Flyers can’t choose their dishes on meals departing to or from Abuja or Sydney, or inbound flights heading to London Gatwick Airport (LGW) or LHR.
On many international flights, China Airlines allows flyers in business or premier business class to select their meal using the e-menu online. However, the selection options are limited based on destinations: e-menu service isn’t available on flights to several cities in China and southeast Asia.
How to reserve: To select a meal using the e-menu, travelers must log in with their reservation on the China Airlines website. Orders should be completed at least 24 hours before departure.
In 2018, Delta announced a large expansion of their meal selection service for SkyMiles members traveling in their premium cabin, Delta One. On flights out of their major airports, including Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport (ATL), John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) in New York and Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP), members can request their meal before boarding even begins.
How to reserve: Eligible SkyMiles members will receive an e-mail three days before their flight, giving them the option to request their meal in advance. It’s important to make sure flyers have their SkyMiles number associated with their trip – otherwise, they may miss out on a meal selection.
Selecting meals ahead of a flight isn’t just for business class flyers. While premium-cabin flyers will be treated to main courses designed by chefs, economy passengers can also book a seat-and-meal package. Some of the local favorites include the smoked reindeer platter or a smoked salmon flatbread.
How to reserve: Business class flyers must select their meal at least 24 hours before their trip. Menus will vary based on season and destination. In economy, flyers departing from Helsinki can purchase a meal 7 hours before departure, or 24 hours before their trip leaving from anywhere else.
The sister airline of British Airways also allows their passengers in premium cabins to select their own meals, with a wide selection of offerings. In addition to traditional Spanish cuisine, travelers can select grilled, Mediterranean or even Asian-inspired offerings.
How to reserve: The service is available to premium-cabin flyers departing from Madrid. Passengers may select their menu options when booking a maximum of 30 days before their flight departure date, or up to 48 hours before their flight through managing their booking online.
Business class flyers aboard JAL have two options to choose from: a traditional Japanese meal, or a standard Western meal consisting of a beef main course. Meal selection is available on most medium- and long-distance routes operated by the Japanese carrier.
How to reserve: Flyers can request one of the two special meals by logging into their reservation on the JAL website and selecting the “request special meal” option at least 25 hours before departure. The service is not available for breakfast meals on overnight flights.
Business class flyers aboard Qantas have the most options when it comes to their in-flight meal selections. In addition to ordering ahead of their flight, passengers may also dine in the Qantas lounge before the flight, or ask no meal be served so they can get the most rest on their flight.
How to reserve: Starting seven days before a flight up to 12 hours ahead of departure, passengers can request their meal option by managing their booking online. If a flyer requests no meal, flight attendants will make the passenger’s bed instead of after takeoff.
For economy travelers who want the business class treatment, SAS offers a full menu that is available for purchase before takeoff. A frugal menu of daily specialties is available for pre-order, or passengers can order premium options with the main course option of beef, fish, poultry or vegetarian.
How to reserve: Preordered meals can be purchased directly from the SAS website before travel by managing your booking. Standard meal options are available on European flights longer than one hour, while premium menu items are available for international travel to and from Asia or the United States.
Luxury travelers in the Singapore Suite, first class, business class or premium economy cabins can “Book the Cook” before they travel. The menu may vary based on where flyers are sitting, or where they are departing from.
How to reserve: Up to 24 hours before a flight, travelers may select their meal through the online reservation management. The “Book the Cook” meals aren’t available for the continental breakfast or other refreshments.
Premium cabin travelers flying out of Lisbon aboard TAP Air Portugal on select international flight can choose from one of three meal options: meat, fish, or pasta. Executive Class flyers, Plusgrade passengers, Stopover passengers and those changing planes in Lisbon to an intercontinental destination may all have the option of selecting a meal ahead of time.
How to reserve: Passengers can place their meal request by managing their trip online, and selecting the eligible flight for meal pre-selection. You can order meals starting seven days ahead of a flight, up to 24 hours before departure.
[Image Source: British Airways]