Menus for Business class: what’s the right time for the crew to distribute them?

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  • Otte

    I personally prefer to find the menu on my seat as I board, glance through it, and make up my mind.

    I also like when the crew comes around while we are still on the ground to take drink and food orders, and then after take off, they can immediately start the service.

    For example, Aeroflot hands them well after take off, and it takes time to take all the orders, only then it goes into the galley, delaying the service by almost an hour.

    United leaves the menu on your seat to browse through when you board,and they manage to complete taking orders before take off.

    On Ethiopian Airlines, they seem to have an issue with menus, either they don’t have them at all, or they hand you a used one (Yiks).

    If they don’t have a menu to hand out,they just ask you “Fish beef or chicken”? As if the way its prepared, side dishes, sauces don’t count.

    I try to avoid spicy dishes, and that “chicken fish or beef ” question is not sufficient for me. I need to see the menu.

    After flights they collect the menus for reuse.

    A suggestion is to have the menue as part of the IFE, so you can read all about the dishes, without having to deal with lack of menues or late distribution of menus.


    I usually travel J on LX and OS long-haul. They tend to come round shortly after departure, hand you a menu, and explain it if necessary. I like the personal interaction and attention but I can’t say I’m too concerned about when the menu is presented, but being given a used one is pretty yucky.

    Good idea about having it on the IFE but some people don’t use the IFE.


    I thought most airlines hand the menu to you once you have boarded and settled, enabling you to “plan” your flight ahead, and hopefully look forward to what is on offer? The orders are usually taken after take off, bit on some occasions before.

    One thing BA is very good at in my opinion is getting the service started. One usually has a drink within 20 minutes of take off, and I am often surprised when I read BT reviews, and other reviews, where passengers still have had nothing after an hour in the flight ( on a daylight or evening flight, as opposed to very late at night flight), and even recall an SQ flight that was like that.

    Handing out the menu, as opposed to leaving it on your seat, I feel helps build the rapport with the crew, and is far more personal.


    Singapore airlines keep the menu at the seat folder, so one can decide about food, drinks, snacks well in advance.


    Sparkyflier, if you travel business or first class in SQ, you get a drink as soon as you board. The drink option includes champagne as well.

    The drinks order is taken before the takeoff and normally served right after seat belts signs are off.

    QR, Emirates, CX, Thai and MH almost similar, although I had bad experience once in Emirates.

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    Slightly off topic.

    Maybe 12 years ago, I boarded an SWISS flight dearting FCO (in J) and just before we pushed back, a Storm came over the airport. The Captain said we’d be at least 60 mins on the ground (which proved to be correct).

    Immediately the crew started a full sevice in J (not sure about Y) and served pre dinner drinks and also the full meal. I was astounded.

    Then after the meal service, the cleared away the trays and we took off.

    I commented to fellow travellers that we’d not likely see them again but after the flight levelled off, out they came again with a drinks and Tea/coffee service with refills later also.

    I was very impressed.


    I know we discuss some really first world issues on this amazing forum – but – seriously, the timings of when menus are handed out….. 🙂


    Agree with Martyn about being a first world issue, a privileged first world issue at that.

    In my limited experience , if an airline gets the small things right and pay meticulous attention to detail then they can justify charging a premium price.

    My best experiences have always been in AC’s Executive Class cabin , because of the focus on hospitality .

    A Caesar cocktail prior to take-off and on one occasion a beer too , and this was when the menu was handed out.
    Orders taken at the next drinks service after take-off
    Wine selection prior to meal service
    Starter served and then cleared
    Main Course served and then cleared
    Dessert served with coffee service and cleared
    Finished with an aperitif offering

    Who needed first class , and shame on AC ditching Exec Class , bringing in Signature Class , so they can introduce a PE cabin to blackmail their Y passengers into upgrading out of cattle class

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    MArtynSinclair,don’t waste your energy responding.Spend it on meaningful forums .
    When I pay 3 to 4 thousands usd to fly,I am very much concerned what kind of service I get.


    Thank you Capetonianm.I also believe that interaction with the crew is a sign of good caring service.


    I agree with you Sparkyflier.On one hand leaving the menue on your seat is kind of time effective,but definitely not very personal. I wonder if next is finding the starter on your seat in a box:-)


    Given a chance I prefer to eat when I want to eat not when the crew think (for whatever reason) I should eat.
    If I have dined in the lounge prior to boarding I’m just not in the mood for more food immediately, partcularly on a night flight.
    Qatar seem to be quite flexible in this respect.



    When the menus are distributed is not exactly a burning issue for me ether but I would not much appreciate being asked to choose food immediately on boarding or having a menu on my seat. On boarding I want to settle, get belongings sorted and would prefer to left to do that.
    For me Cathay gets it about right in J.

    Immediately on being seated drinks and are offered (choice of champagne- juice or water – in some ports were the laws allow a good crew will make you a mixed drink if you ask nicely). If held on the ground for a period refills are not an issue ether.Coats are hung if needed followed by the distribution of warm scented damp towels. 15 to 30 minutes after take-off the bar is opened and drinks offered. On long haul flights the menus are distributed and explained normally about an hour into the flight.
    Landing cards are also distributed early in the flights and if needed I normally get this filled out early and place inside my passport.

    I find that Qantas and Emirates particularly are very slow and generally recalsigent with drink offerings.


    Spending only $3000-$4000 and expecting perfect service as you think?

    That kind of money in nothing nowadays if you want to be pampered.

    Try some better airlines where might have to pay more or try first class on these premium airlines.

    For most of my longhaul flights ticket cost between $5000 – $7000 in business class and I am happy what services I get.

    I know (and can see sometimes) that the service at first class a few notch higher, but I cannot afford that and don’t complain.

    Also having status helped. If one have high status, you can get better wine if you request discreetly with the cabin director, when/if they come to greet you.


    For me, the only issue about meal service (in all classes) is on very late night/ early morning departures. Some airlines commence very slow, full service which is hardly welcome, especially on shorter flights. Qatar are really good at this in all cabins, offering rapid snack service in Economy and choice of timing in Business. It is some time since I flew Finnair long-haul in Business but I seem to remember that they used to be particularly annoying in this regard, with full lights up for ages on service out of HKG.

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