Each week, my Meal of the Week feature examines an airline meal from my travels over the years. This may be a meal from earlier in the week or it may be a meal served over a decade ago.
We return to Austrian Airlines for this week’s Meal of the Week because I simply cannot get over how great the onboard catering is.
I wrote about Austrian in a prior installment of this series, but want to again point out today the stark difference between catering on shorthaul flights in North America and in Europe (and much of the rest of the world).
On a recent one hour business class flight from Burbank to San Francisco on United, I was offered a snack basket with stroopwaffels, fig bars, muffins, bananas, and biscotti. As far as snack baskets go on United, this was one of the better ones. Later in the day, the contents usually include chips, chocolate, and granola bars.
Let’s compare that to a 45-minute Austrian Airlines flight in business class from Vienna to Frankfurt departing in the late evening. Moments after takeoff, a meal tray arrived. It included a smoked salmon dish with capers, tomato, sliced cucumber, and delicious warm bread. But that was just the appetizer!
The main courses included a warm chicken breast, beautiful salad with artichokes and bell peppers, and prosciutto. Dessert was delicious tiramisu.
But that’s not all. Austrian offers a full coffee service on their shorthaul flight, including espresso-based drinks. On this flight, however, I requested hot chocolate and was served one of the best cups of hot chocolate I had ever had. In fact, FAs left me enough for a second cup.
I know that in exchange for an inferior meal we get a better seat on domestic flights within the USA. Still, on shorter flights I’d prefer the coach seat and Austrian meal over a “real” business class seat.
Totally agreed. I’d trade big business seat for a proper business meal and service any time. If you want a big seat, just fly Spirit. I’ve always been impressed by Swiss’s catering as well.
I guess it’s a question of a seat vs. meal. A good (or atleast non-economy) seat would be my preference.
This was the same on a 40 min flight from VIE-BUD last year in business on a regional jet. In addition to the meal , My partner and I shared a full bottle of champagne on the flight. The FA couldn’t have been nicer and literally walked though every 5 minutes.
Well, FAs in the US are primarily there for your safety, not to waste time serving you a hot meal…
I imagine that you’re too young to remember full meal service on domestic US flights. I flew with my mother every summer from Kansas City to Dallas to visit family, which was an hour and a quarter flight, in Coach, usually Braniff or Ozark. When you boarded the plane, you could smell the food because it was warmed and ready to serve immediately after reaching cruising altitude. These were full meals served on one tray. I distinctly remember on Ozark being served steak and lobster, on more than one flight. I do not know how the ticket prices compare to today’s, but it was always enjoyable. Take off, eat lunch, land.
Those were the days! But you’re right—ticket prices were far higher.
Surely this meal on Austrian wasn’t recently? I recognise that as the catering of about five years ago.
On a recent evening flight from VIE-LHR I was served a cold beef burger on a bed of coleslaw and a piece of very dry cake, it was difficult to believe it was Do&Co catering it was so poor.