Lifestyle & Parenting

Fine Flying and Fine Dining

June 5, 2019

Fun fact: air travellers lose up to 30 per cent of their taste buds when flying. Our friends at British Airways have conducted extensive studies on how taste buds change at high altitudes in order to craft tastier in-flights meals. And, for the past 100 years, passengers on British Airways have been treated to some pretty exceptional catering experience (think ox tongue and peaches in Melba sauce in the 1930s, lobster mayonnaise and banana splits in the 1950s and even an in-flight Christmas dinner in 1987 serving traditional roast beef with Yorkshire pudding on fine tableware). Today, the airline continues to enhance its catering by investing millions in only the finest of ingredients to include on its menus. New to British Airways this year is restaurant-style catering, offered in all three cabin classes, plus à la carte menus and afternoon tea service in first class. We chatted with BA in-flight meal developer Andrew Rusk to find out more. Bon appetite! —Vita Daily

british airways

What goes in to the design of a new menu?

Our menus are designed around what our customers expect in the individual cabins. It is also important to consider the region we’re flying to or from; for example, on some routes we will include chopsticks as well as knife and fork or, as well as salt and pepper, we include soy sauce and Indian pickle. We also have to work around the capability of the local caterer to ensure they can deliver what our customers expect. (Charleston is a prime example because BA was the first international flight to launch so caterers at the airport had to make significant changes to accommodate for international flights as well as domestic.)

About how often is a menu changed and why?

Menus change either monthly or quarterly, depending on cabin. Where possible we use seasonal produce, because the food will be fresher and have more flavour; it also means we can source food that’s better value so we can invest in other areas of the menu to guarantee better quality.

british airways

What inspires you when creating a new menu?

Our customers! I want our customers to get off a flight and remember the food for the right reasons. We try and keep up with culinary trends, so we design our food around being modern and contemporary. It is then our job to create this on a large scale.

Do you consider the route, certain tastes, fashions and food trends when creating a new menu?

Yes! We make adjustments based on the route and destination. We will also look at local cuisine; for example, for the launch of Nashville we embraced a local favourite by serving hot chicken for a limited time on inbound flights.

british airways

How do you ensure the quality of the food you offer on-board is high?

Once we’ve gone through the process of designing a menu and its available on board we and our catering supplier will regularly check it delivers the quality we expect. This includes our caterer tasting and scoring the dish and feedback from our crew and customers.

What is the most popular dish worldwide?

There isn’t one dish … our customers have lots of favourites and it depends on the region. For example, in India we know that it’s curry. But generally speaking popular dishes are smoked salmon, tomato and mozzarella and, of course, steak.


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