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Jan. 19th, 2011 @ 07:03 am hey buddy, welcome back! so how was your flight?
Current Mood: on the ground, at home
Cannot sucking fleep.

I've been reading reviews of airline food on Airlinemeals.net. I have no particular love of airline food, as a childhood punctuated by grueling, 20-hour economy-class flights has sort of turned me off air travel forever. But what's most fascinating about the site is not the enormous variety of microwaved frozen pastiches of ethnic fare, it's the tendency of reviewers to leave stories about their flight experiences in their reviews and the details in their photos. Especially the difficult, nausea-inducing, engine-rattling long-haul trans-continental/trans-oceanic flights--possibly the only remaining form of consumer transportation that feels more like a journey, as our ancestors understood it, than a mere commute.

By design, airlinemeals.net doesn't let you link to specific reviews, so alas. Search "pilot," "turbulence," "miserable," "delightful," "tired," and "red-eye" and you'll see what I mean. Also advanced search username "crew member" for commentary from the long-suffering flight attendants who have to live off this stuff.

ON JANUARY 21, 2009, FLIGHT UNITED AIRLINES 869 DEPARTED FROM LA GUARDIA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT FOR ITS FATEFUL MAIDEN VOYAGE. LITTLE DID THE 200 PASSENGERS AND CREW ABOARD KNOW THAT THE GALLEY WAS OUT OF SALTED PEANUTS. NO STARS

While it's well understood that the quality of economy class meals has fluctuated violently since the 1960s (most recently taking a nosedive after 9/11), holy shit first class meals were so much better when no one could afford to fly first class. Not that the TGI Fridays-style first class meals served on long-hauls by American carriers today don't look pretty good already (not that I know firsthand; I've never had one), but damn. These are meals I used to think were impractical to serve on anything smaller than a train. Real silverware? Little bottles of champagne, poured in logo-emblazoned glasses weighted to defeat turbulence? Authentic Swiss Emmantaler cheese? Pate? Caviar? Lobster? Made-to-order chateaubriand, served on real silver, carved by your seat by the flight attendant? Fuck you, terrorism.
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toroko
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From:cougarfang
Date:January 19th, 2011 07:31 pm (UTC)
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Fuck you, terrorism.

And, y'know, the inevitable price undercutting capitalist system.
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From:erf_
Date:January 19th, 2011 08:38 pm (UTC)
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That's more the effect than the cause. First class meals used to be uber-fancy because flying cost so much that anyone who flew first class probably wouldn't care about the additional expense of good food. But every time there's a high-profile plane crash, demand crashes too. And when you've typically got half a dozen or less first class seats per plane, each of which could be removed to put in one and a half more business class seats or two more economy class seats, reducing the total number of planes you need to service and put in the air...well, it's just not practical anymore.

Besides, luxury goods like first class airline service are relatively resistant to price undercutting because at that end of the market, consumers can afford to care more about quality than price. If you were so rich that you could afford to fly first class often, and you wanted to choose between a good first class flight and a great first class flight, which would you pick? If you needed to save money you'd just fly business class most the time, saving first class flights for special occasions--in which case you'd want those splurges to be the best quality possible.
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From:zenragethinker
Date:January 20th, 2011 01:57 am (UTC)
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I just wanted to add that a number of the people who used to fly first class prior to the war on terrorism, have instead opted to buy their own plane so as to avoid the security screening and other hassles. I can't comment on the other foods you listed, but I know that Virgin Atlantic will give you champagne. The airline industry is a tough industry to make a profit in, but I think the most important thing is that they get better with customer service and that they don't turn into Ryan Air with the penny pinching.
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From:retch
Date:January 19th, 2011 08:10 pm (UTC)
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I bring my own meals because I know the plane food will be so awful. Amazing what a difference a good sandwich and delicious snacks can make in enjoying a flight.
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From:erf_
Date:January 19th, 2011 08:24 pm (UTC)
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That works for flights under 12 hours, but can get icky and space-inefficient for any longer. Fresh fruit is a godsend though!
From:natasha_fawn
Date:January 19th, 2011 08:31 pm (UTC)
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Flying While Vegetarian sucks especially. Yum, badly seasoned chopped veggies over rice, roll with no butter, and a crummy dessert (because they don't want to have to make separate vegetarian and vegan meals, I guess). I once had three flight attendants finding me fruit and rolls because my ticket had gotten screwed up and they didn't have a vegetarian meal for me.

Air France is nice because they give free wine and beer on transAtlantic flights, even in coach.
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From:erf_
Date:January 19th, 2011 08:59 pm (UTC)
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My condolences. While some of the vegetarian meals on that site look okay, all of the ones served by US-based airlines make me glad I'm not a vegetarian. :[

Air France seems to have pretty decent food in general.
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From:zenragethinker
Date:January 20th, 2011 01:49 am (UTC)
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I've been following airline industry news closely for several months now and am very interested in working in the industry. I have to say that from my reading/industry research, Air France is NOT a good airline. They have a surprisingly bad safety record, coming in at 1783 fatalities in total, behind only Russia's Aeroflot (who they code share with). Seriously, next time you go to Madagascar, skip Air France and go for South African Airways. Lufthansa will give you free wine in economy.