Airlines Revamping In-Flight Menus As Travelers Return
From vegan meatballs to ice cream sundaes, airlines are offering new options and old favorites to woo returning travelers. As the peak travel season fades and inflation weighs on household and company budgets, it’s even more important than usual for airlines to court passengers, Leslie Josephs reported for CNBC.
Photo Insert: Travelers on Delta One flying internationally out of the hub can also preorder menu items curated by Bailey.
The start of the COVID-19 pandemic halted almost all food and beverage service on flights as travel collapsed and airlines limited crews’ contact with passengers to avoid spreading the virus.
The pandemic drove airlines to record losses and had them looking to cut costs wherever possible, such as in-flight food. With travel returning, airlines around the world are rolling out new menu options.
Alcohol sales, with some new ready-to-drink options, are back on board in US coach cabins. And face masks are now mostly optional, removing an obstacle to onboard food and beverage service.
Delta in July said the revenue recovery in premium products and its extra-legroom seats was outpacing sales from standard coach — further motivation to introduce new and exciting food items.
Last week, the airline said it is teaming up with James Beard Award winner Mashama Bailey, executive chef of Savannah, Georgia-based restaurant The Grey, for “Southern-inspired” meals on flights out of Atlanta for domestic first-class passengers.
Travelers on Delta One flying internationally out of the hub can also preorder menu items curated by Bailey. Airlines for years have teamed up with celebrity chefs to design their menus and lately have been working more with local businesses.
In February, American Airlines brought Tamara Turner’s Silver Spoon Desserts’ Bundt cakes on board domestic premium cabins.
Singapore Airlines, a carrier that operates some of the world’s longest flights, brought in Southern California-based luxury spa Golden Door to develop dozens of recipes for its in-flight menu. Golden Door’s executive chef, Greg Frey Jr., focuses on vegetable-forward dishes that he says are among the best for digestion on flights.
“I think people are, rightly so, concerned they’re not going to feel as satiated with this vegetarian meal and [think] ‘I just need this piece of meat.’ And in the end ... you really don’t need that much protein when you’re sitting in an airplane and relaxing,” he said. “It’s not like you’re heavy lifting.”