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What You Need to Know About Airline Food

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Never order pasta on board an airplane. Conditions at 30,000 ft above sea level make it impossible for pasta to stay al dente.
So says Fritz Gross, director of culinary excellence at LSG Sky Chefs Asia Pacific, which is responsible for preparing all in-flight meals at airlines like United (UAL), Delta (DAL), and US Airways (LCC).
Speaking to CNN, Gross shared that other no-nos on the menu include chicken breast, noodles, and all that is deep-fried.
What should you order then? Your best bet, Gross shares, is stew because “we can simmer it and reheat it over and over and it will still be a stew.”
The biggest issue with airline food is not how it is prepared, but rather what happens when it is served. The standard airline food formula is to prepare, chill, and then reheat when served, but complications like turbulence could mean that food could be left out to right.
As such, the safest items to order in the air are the ones that can best retain moisture. Besides stew, the list includes vegetables, fried rice, and fish.
If you’re flying in Asia on an airline that serves LSG Sky Chefs food, Gross recommends getting the sweet and sour pork, which is “deep-fried, but vacuum marinated, locking flavor deep into each piece of meat, and coated in a special cornstarch batter that remains crunchy when reheated.”
And as for which airline serves the best food, Turkish Airlines seems to be the winner, at least according to the latest SkyScanner passenger survey on airline food on 19 international airlines. Singapore Airlines was second and Etihad rounded the top 3. Singapore Airlines, perhaps in a bid to nab the top spot, recently recruited Gordon Ramsay to become one of its chef advisors.
United placed 13th and American, the other US airline included in the survey, finished dead last.
Here are the complete rankings:
  1. Turkish Airlines: 86%
  2. Singapore Airlines: 81%
  3. Etihad: 80%
  4. Aer Lingus: 78%
  5. Emirates: 77%
  6. Cathay Pacific: 75%
  7. KLM: 75%
  8. Qantas: 72%
  9. Aeroflot: 71%
  10. Air France: 70%
  11. Iberia: 65%
  12. SAS: 64%
  13. United Airlines: 62%
  14. British Airways: 60%
  15. Qatar Airways: 57%
  16. Virgin Atlantic: 57%
  17. Alitalia: 54%
  18. Lufthansa: 53%
  19. American Airlines: 47.5%
(See also: With Consolidation of Airlines, Is Elite Status a Thing of the Past?)

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