I've eaten far too many meals in an airplane while flying from one place to another at 35,000 feet and 600 miles an hour. While some of those meals have been better than others (yes, it's true that First Class does have its benefits), none have been particularly memorable.
However, Delta and United Airlines are in a knock-down, drag-out food fight to change all that.
According to a report in Fortune, Delta Air Lines made its first move on its international flights. Effective March 1, the airline has upgraded its food and beverage service -- offering economy (!) passengers such amenities as real, metal knives, forks, and spoons along with free sparkling wine in addition to beer, wine, and spirits.
Delta is also emphasizing the use of higher-quality food ingredients -- regionally sourced for flights originating in Asia. Not only that, but Business Class passengers will be able to order specific meals before they fly. Says Lisa Bauer, Delta VP on-board services, "We're reinventing the onboard dining experience for every customer in the cabin."
For its part, United is raising the bar on its own in-flight, "farm to (tray) table" meal options. United announced that effective immediately, the airline is expanding its food selections and introducing an entirely new menu for passengers flying from Canada to the U.S. Says Charlean Gmunder, VP of catering operations at United, "We want every customer onboard to find something that catches their appetite and feel good about their purchase."
In United's case, this means offering its own "exclusive" vodka brand produced by Wheatley Vodka, grass-fed beef Think jerky, organic nut mix from Nuts.com, and new, healthier breakfast, lunch, and dinner options. While none of these different in-flight food meal options are free for economy travelers, they're all under $10 each.
Delta and United's food fight clearly signals that we are entering a Golden Age of in-flight dining. I for one am looking forward to my next flight to see who's winning. Hopefully one of my next meals will be more memorable than the ones that preceded it.