A Better Flight Plan
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Bon Appétit from 35,000 Feet

Airlines are investing heavily in the customer experience, including onboard cuisine to keep in step with food trends on the ground. Gourmet chefs, locally sourced ingredients and fan-favorite snacks are all playing a role in this culinary revolution. In honor of National Culinary Arts Month, we’re dishing out a few airline food industry secrets and details about what you can expect on your next flight.

Hawaiian Airlines’ Chef Chai Chawasaree is an award-winning restaurateur, known worldwide for his flavorful Pan-Asian creations. As an executive chef for the airline, he’s responsible for the First Class and Main Cabin in-flight meal, which includes a green papaya and grilled shrimp salad, braised chicken with yellow curry and chocolate macadamia shortbread cookies.

In a commitment to flavor and sustainability, JetBlue recently launched its own blue potato farm at New York’s JFK Airport. This urban farm produces 1,000 pounds of locally sourced vegetables and 2,000 herb plants per season. Once ripe, the blue potatoes are taken to a nearby factory where they are turned into blue potato chips and other culinary creations for passengers to enjoy midair.

Even on shorter flights where a full meal isn’t always feasible, airlines are committed to quality. United recently introduced a delicious new breakfast treat called a ‘Stroopwafel.’ This Dutch classic became an instant passenger favorite, thanks to the waffle’s creamy caramel filling and how well it paired with United’s illy premium dark roast coffee on early-morning flights.

Even with the freshest ingredients and trending recipes, preparing meals at 35,000 feet isn’t a simple task. How we experience food in the air is different because our bodies react differently at higher altitudes.

For example, the air humidity in your home or favorite restaurant stays around 30 percent. Onboard, aircraft humidity typically ranges from 10 percent to 12 percent, which can dry out your nose and dull your sense of taste. The low pressure at 35,000 feet also hinders your taste buds, reducing the taste of sweet and salty flavors by more than 30 percent.

U.S. carriers are rising to meet these flavor challenges by partnering with world-renewed chefs and culinary brand ambassadors to usher in a new era of airline cuisine. Forget everything you thought you knew about airplane food—these onboard treats are quickly soaring to new culinary heights.

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