Airlines whet appetites at 30,000 feet

5 Sep 2009

To paraphrase a familiar saying, the way to a passenger's heart is through the stomach, and three airlines have taken up the challenge.

This week, SWISS International Air Lines began offering a new menu to First and Business Class passengers on its daily Hongkong-Zurich route. They will experience signature dishes created by Peninsula Hongkong executive chef Florian Trento, a Swiss national and long-time resident of the city. Chef Trento overseas the hotel's nine F&B outlets, including the iconic Swiss restaurant Chesa which opened in 1965.

Premium passengers expecting an Asian twist to Swiss dishes will find Chef Trento sticking to a distinctly continental line-up which dovetails with the airline's  "SWISS taste of Switzerland" service feature. The mains include crab meat, tomato and avocado stack with mesclun and baslamico, eggplant terrine with red bell pepper and basil oil for appetisers, slow-cooked lamb loin with balck truffle crust and wilted romaine leaves and for dessert, there is classic frozen chocolate and vanilla vacherin.

The menu will be changed every three months.

"The catering facility and our cabin crew have clear specifications on how the dishes are to be prepared and served respectively," said Marcus Binkert, Swiss managing director and head of product and services. "We are paying attention down to the last detail such as presentation – how the dishes should look like."

He added: "Inflight food may not be a key pillar in the travel experience, but we should not underestimate the total package."

Swiss' Hongkong-Zurich route is the first to carry the "SWISS taste of Switzerland" meal experience, a feature expected to be rolled out on other inbound flights. Swiss accommodates 48 passengers in First Class and 48 passengers in Business Class.

Meanwhile, Japanese  carriers Japan Airlines (JAL) and All Nippon Airlines (ANA) have announced their menu line up for the autumn and winter seasons.

For the first time in Economy Class, JAL passengers bound for Europe and selected Southeast Asian destinations can nowl enjoy inflight versions of dishes from the original offerings of the renowned Nihonbashi Taimekin, a western-style restaurant opened in 1931. From now until November, customers can taste the traditional flavours of the restaurant's Keema Curry, Hayashi Rice and Demi-glace Sauce Hamburger with rice.

Business Class passengers on JAL's Korea-bound flights from Osaka and Nagoya can also savour a special series of the Soraben (Sky Bento) called Soramen (Sky Noodles). This special menu – a Japanese-style lunch box of 200-gram noodles with assortment of meat and vegetable side dishes – is only available from now until September 30.

ANA, on the other hand, has announced two completely new menus – Japanese "Kaiseki" and Western haute cuisine – for First Class intercontinental flights departing this autumn and winter.

The "Kaiseki" menu is created under the watchful eye of master Tsujitome. The third generation of his family to head the kitchen of the eponymous restaurant in Tokyo's Akasaka district, he brins his ethos of Kaiseki as hospitality at its greatest" to his art, along with more than 60 years of experience in Japanese culinary lore.

For the Western menu, ANA collaborated with three head chefs – a Frenchman, an American and a Japanese – from Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo to whip up signature dishes worthy of a five-star dining experience at 30,000 feet.

For more information, visit, www, and

Gigi Onag

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