After our recent look at what the world’s best airlines are serving up for their First Class passengers and what they offer them in terms of wine, we take a tour of in-flight banqueting in Business Class.
Some major airlines are actively reducing the amount of space at the front end of the aircraft dedicated to traditional First Class. They are reckoning on major improvements in the Business Class cabin making the second-tier class more popular than ever.
The recent unveiling of Qatar Airways’ highly anticipated and “game-changing” new Business Class product, the QSuite, with its first-of-a-kind double bed in Business Class, is a timely example of the investment going into the Business cabin. This new product, which will soon be rolled out across Qatar’s Boeing 777s and A350s, is comparable to the world’s best First Class suites.
Additionally, nearly every international airline now offers a flat bed in business class, whilst many also offer on-demand dining – like Cathay Pacific will trial this summer – which was previously available exclusively in First Class.
The improvements in the Business Class cabin stretch into onboard service, too. And nowhere is this more realised than at meal times, where the entire dining experience has steadily improved, especially in recent years. Perhaps the explosion of social media and self-reporting has led to the airlines’ jump in standards, procedures and quality of produce.
Whatever the reason, Business Class is booming and airlines are making strides to stand out and excel in this most important part of a long-haul flight. Here, we take a look at which airlines have the best dining in Business Class.
Meal service in Air France’s Business Class cabin is a treat. Since 2009, Air France has employed the creative wisdom of a Michelin-starred French chef to create special dishes for its Business Class menu. Culinary stars to contribute to the menu and become “French gastronomy ambassadors” for Air France include Joël Robuchon, Guy Martin and Régis Marcon.
You’ll be greeted on board your flight with a glass of champagne, there’s an “à la française” menu you can pre-order from, or wait for the menu to be distributed and choose from a variety of aperitifs, appetisers, hot dishes, cheeses, pastries, sorbets and fruits. Fly from the United States or Canada to Paris and you’ll experience the culinary creations of Michelin-starred chef Daniel Boulud, such as Atlantic lobster with curried coconut sauce and bok choy, or salmon with fennel, chickpea and sumac. Bon appétit!
Emirates serves its Business Class patrons a menu of gourmet dishes that “that take you places”, inspired by your flight’s arrival or departure destination. The regionally inspired menus, which are updated every month, is paired with fine wine and champagne and complemented by a variety of cocktails and canapés.
A healthy menu is also on offer, in which dishes are prepared without added saturated and trans fats, salt or sugars. On-demand dining is available on select routes, whilst meals are served on Royal Doulton fine bone china with exclusive Robert Welch cutlery. On flights to and from Tokyo or Osaka in Japan, Business Class passengers can savour authentic bento-style dishes, made with fresh, seasonal ingredients, and served with Japanese sake or tea.
Emirates is also trialling a smartphone ordering system in which Business Class passengers place their food order on Samsung Galaxy A7 smartphones. It will be rolled out across Emirates’ Airbus A380 fleet by the end of April, followed by the Boeing 777 fleet by the end of May.
At this year’s ITB Berlin, Qatar Airways proudly revealed its brand new, never-before-seen Business Class suite, QSuite, complete with double bed, representing a new level of luxury in the business cabin. A new, more social food and beverage concept will be ushered in alongside the new suite.
The new Business Class menu will offer a selection of sharing dishes in addition to the existing dine-on-demand menu from renowned chef Nobu Matsuhisa. A wake-up “Express Breakfast” will also be available for those who choose to sleep a little longer by utilising the ‘Do Not Disturb’ option available on the door of their private QSuite.
With the help of its Food & Beverage Managers, hospitality experts with experience of working in the best hotels and restaurants around the world, Etihad offers its Business Class passengers a comprehensive “Dine Anytime” menu.
An all-day menu offers light snacks, whilst the a la carte menu features Middle Eastern and international dishes. All meals are crafted with the freshest and the finest ingredients, with the wide choice of meals meaning there’s plenty to please every palate. Onboard Food & Beverage Managers are also on hand to help you choose the right wine to pair with your meal.
Singapore Airlines’ chefs create its Business Class menu in a simulated pressurised cabin. They spend hours there, sampling and adjusting the flavours so that meals taste as good as possible at 30,000 feet.
Fly with Singapore Airlines in Business Class and you can choose your main course up to 24-hours before your flight from a wide selection of meals, including the creations of eight world-renowned chefs who make up Singapore Airlines’ International Culinary Panel. For example, on flights from London, SIA offers Business Class passengers such appetising meal options as grilled Aberdeen Angus fillet of beef with selected fresh market vegetables and Chef’s potatoes; and lobster thermidor, grilled asparagus, roasted diced tomatoes with herbs and fingerling potatoes. Yum!
British Airways’ Club World Business Class menu has been inspired by some of the world’s top chefs. Hearty three-course meals combine local and international flavours from locally sourced, seasonal produce.
Meals are accompanied by a glass of Old World or New World wine. In the morning, you can then choose between a hot or continental breakfast. Afternoon flights include a savoury snack or a quintessentially English afternoon tea, with warm scones and tea supplied by Twinings. Additionally, on selected flights, you can select your main meal from the onboard menu between 30 days and 24-hours before your flight, for no extra charge.
Cathay Pacific is following in the footsteps of a number of airlines by trialling an on-demand dining concept in Business Class during May and June 2017. On select routes, including the Hong Kong – Gatwick route, the Chinese airline will have a specially trained cabin crew on board to provide the flexible dining service.
Cathay’s Business Class menu, which changes constantly, incorporates locally sourced, sustainable, and seasonal ingredients, whilst lighter and healthy dining options are also available. For a taste of Asia, a variety of noodle soups is available on selected routes to and from Hong Kong.
2017 marks the 20th year of Qantas’ partnership with celebrated Australian chef Neil Perry, making it the longest running culinary collaboration in aviation. In celebration of the partnership, Qantas will be bringing back some of its most popular menu items from over the last two decades, such as Chinese style crab omelette with oyster sauce; and lobster with XO sauce, lo mein noodles, bok choy and sesame seeds.
The full Business Class menu offers a contemporary selection of Perry’s small and main plates, available to order upon request rather than at set times. An in-flight bar is also available on all B747-400, A330 and A380 aircraft.
SAS kicks off proceedings in Business Class with a glass of champagne. You can then pick your three-course meal with a choice of four different mains, followed by a cheese course and dessert.
In KLM’s Business Class you can enjoy dinner prepared by Michelin-starred Dutch chef Jonnie Boer, co-owner of the restaurant De Librije in Zwolle, Netherlands. The menu grants you the choice of cold starter or vegetarian soup; several main dishes, tailored for the time of day; and a choice of dessert, such as pie, fresh fruit and a selection of cheeses, accompanied by a glass of port or dessert wine. Additionally, on flights to and from China, India, Japan and Korea, the Dutch Airline also offers traditional Asian menus served on Asian dinnerware.