World’s top airlines for best in-flight food. Aegean ranks 1st the European list
Airline food doesn’t always have the best reputation – especially if you’re travelling in economy or with a budget carrier. But for one man, the joy of flying is all about the food served on board.
For the last four years, Australian ex-pat Nik Loukas has hopped on hundreds of flights just to sample their culinary offering. Along the way, he’s eaten everything from steak and lobster to satay and sushi – and he can certainly tell you which airlines have the best, and the worst, food.
Now, the airline food addict is looking to make a documentary about the subject.
The Aegean experience
Greek Aegean carrier is one of Loukas’ favourite gourmet airlines. While travelling from Brussels to Athens in business class, he started the gastronomic experience with a chicken salad
On the same Aegean flight, he also had the grilled fillet of chicken with Lyonnaise potatoes, green beans and turkey bacon with lemon thyme sauce
To finish, Aegean served up a selection of Greek pastries with an Illy coffee, which was Loukas’ favourite coffee
Singapore Airlines is Loukas’ absolute favourite airline to fly for food. With Singapore Airline Suites, he tried a lobster thermidor and it was ‘amazing’
On a one-hour flight from Izmir to Istanbul with Pegasus Airlines, Loukas enjoyed a steak with grilled vegetables, potato bake and Turkish salad before rounding off the meal with a chocolate cake
AirBaltic, which will feature in the documentary that Loukas is making, served him a simple Caprese salad, chicken with grilled seasonal vegetables and a chocolate cream cake on a flight from Riga to Brussels
Speaking to MailOnline Travel, Loukas said that his passion began in 2011 when he moved from Australia to Europe.
As he worked in the airline industry, around 30 per cent of his time is spent in the air for work.
He started collecting menus and soon built these into his website, www.inflightfeed.com, where he now catalogs his own flights as well as news from the industry.
Since the blog was founded in 2012, he’s taken over 400 flights, tallying up to more than 400,000 miles – or 17 times around the world.
The Dublin-based frequent flier told MailOnline Travel: ‘I love everything about airline meals. I wanted to show passengers what they could eat in the air. Not every meal is gourmet though. On a flight from Paris to Copenhagen with SAS, which Loukas says usually does very good food, he had a rather terrible experience with a pizza
On a Delhi to Paris flight with Air India, Loukas was disappointed to find that the second meal of the journey was a meagre croissant. Although it did come with fresh fruit and a chocolate brownie
On a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Phuket on Air Asia, Loukas tried a rather unappealing Nasi Lemak. However, the fresh coconut drink made up for the shortfall
On another flight with Air Asia, from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur, he tried a chicken satay and a sweet and sour rice
Loukas said he was left rather disappointed with his meal on Air Asia
On a Norwegian Air operated flight from New York to Oslo, Loukas tried an ‘ok’ tasting beef with mashed potato and brocolli
‘Airline food doesn’t have a good reputation. I just want to show people that there are interesting choices out there.’
An example of this was a pre-ordered meal on FlyNiki, an Austrian-based subsidiary of Air Berlin.
For just €14 (£12.12), Loukas received ‘the best chicken schnitzel at 35,000ft‘, which was served with parsley potatoes and came with a side salad and a mousse au chocolat.
An alternative option on the flight, for the same price, was an Italian antipasti platter featuring Prosciutto di Parma with a simple version of a Caprese salad, grilled Mediterranean vegetables and a tiramisu for dessert.
On another occasion, when he flew with Japan Airlines, he was served a snack from KFC as one of his meals.
The KFC meal was a seasonal offering that followed the Japanese tradition of having KFC for Christmas.
Loukas flew from Paris to Taipei just to try the Hello Kitty kids meal on EVA Air, which featured pasta and meatballs served with a potato salad, fresh fruit, chocolates and a chocolate brownie.
On a trip from Tokyo to Seoul, Loukas flew on Asiana Airlines and wasn’t disappointed with their very traditional breakfast offering on board
On a domestic flight in Japan with Peach Aviation, a budget airline that allows you to buy food on board, Loukas tried a Japanese pancake that came with five different condiments
On another occasion, when Loukas flew with Japan Airlines, he was served a snack from KFC as one of his meals
Loukas, who says that he travels and collects these menus, and now photographs, for fun, spends a substantial amount of his savings on the flights but also takes advantage of his frequently flier points for business and first class upgrades.
The airline food enthusiast said: ‘Sometimes I travel to a destination just to sample the food. Recently, I flew from Paris to Taipei with EVA Air just to try their Hello Kitty meal.’
That offering, he said, was very memorable – not least because it was designed for children and his fellow travellers were more than a little baffled by his meal option.
He said: ‘Everyone was staring at me and I just wanted to fall through a hole in the cabin.’
However, the meal turned out to be rather good, although ‘there was a lot of chocolate’ considering it was a children’s option.
On another recent trip he travelled all the way to India for just four days and most of the time there was spent in the air, sampling the food offered on board some of the local airlines.
Loukas said LATAM was his favourite airline in South America. He flew on the Madrid to Frankfurt segment of a flight that was travelling on to Chile and saw a big focus on Chilean food on board, including balsamic vinegar from the country
Another option on FlyNiki was an Italian antipasti platter featuring Prosciutto di Parma with a simple version of a Caprese salad, grilled Mediterranean vegetables and a tiramisu for dessert
While travelling from Kunming to Bangkok on Thai Airways, Loukas enjoyed a meal featuring pork with noodles, a salmon salad and plenty of fresh vegetables
On another flight with Singapore Airlines, Loukas was delighted to find that the dessert was Haagen Dazs – and you get a choice of flavours
Now, around 50 per cent of the flights that Loukas takes is centred around food and he would also travel with a specific airline just to try their food.
He said: ‘My partner is always complaining that I’m always going somewhere.‘
There’s constant innovations in the airline food world that Loukas wants to explore.
For example, he admits that he hasn’t really flown on any African airlines and wants to try Ethiopian Airlines.
He’s also heard that South African Airways have just changed their caterer so that’s another one to add to his list.
According to Loukas, the USA is about to see an airline food revolution as some carriers are looking to reintroduce meals to flights where catering had previously been scrapped.
Delta in particular, he says, is looking to improve their gourmet appeal in a big way, especially with collaborations with chefs.
Loukas is so fascinated by the world of airline food that he’s decided to make a documentary on the subject, which he is currently crowdfunding for on Indiegogo.
Logistics and testing
He said: ‘Airline take nine to 10 months to plan a meal, it’s not just something that chefs decide to whip up.
‘There’s a lot of logistics and there’s a lot of testing.’
Those behind-the-scenes aspects of airline meal planning are the sort of subjects that he hopes to cover in the documentary.
Loukas and the team behind UK-based Rainbow Trout Films have already started filming some of the documentary.
He told MailOnline Travel that while there might be an opportunity to pitch the idea to a TV network down the line, the funding will help them to make the documentary and release it to DVD.
Loukas added: ‘I’m so fascinated by it I just wanted to get it done.’
NIK LOUKAS’ FAVOURITE AIRLINES FOR FOOD
- Singapore Airlines
- Aegean Airlines
- Japan Airlines
- Turkish Airlines
Best in Europe | Aegean
Aegean’s meals represent world famous Greek cuisine and local products in the skies. Recently, the company launched a campaign that highlights different areas of Greece on the basis of their culinary tradition at different stages of customer service, from the lounge to the aircraft and inflight entertainment. The food is prepared according to traditional Greek recipes.