A late-night flight on Thai Airways out of Tokyo made for a lethal combination when it came to the in-flight meal in business class. That’s the subject of this week’s Meal of the Week.
Here’s my question: how long or “international” must a flight be before food is offered to suit both western and eastern taste buds?
I was flying from Thai Airways from Tokyo Haneda to Bangkok, departing just after midnight. It is a 7hr flight from North Asia to South Asia utilizing a 747-400 filled with hundreds of people from around the world.
Seated in business class, I was offered a midnight snack after takeoff: sushi and soba noodles. That was it. No choice.
And at that moment I deeply regretted not eating anything in the lounge prior to boarding. Because I was hungry…but this food? Try as I might, I simply cannot acquire a taste for sushi or for these noodles with shrimp. Believe me, I wish I could. It would make life much easier when visiting clients in Japan. This sort of food is loved by many, but the worst possible meal I personally could have been offered.
Was this meal perfectly reasonable for dinner on a 7hr flight? Or should at least one other choice have been offered, perhaps something a little more western? It’s not that I discount that many, perhaps most, “western” people like sushi and noodles. Rather, my point is this is a very strong dish—why not at least offer something neutral with it like a salad or even bread?
A Cultural Preference
When I lived in Germany and worked for Star Alliance, we’d often host Air China employees in our office. It always struck me as somewhat amusing that whenever we would go out for meals, my Chinese colleagues always and only wanted Chinese food. You would think that while in Germany they would prefer to try German food, or maybe Italian or Turkish. But there’s nothing like comfort food, is there? If you read my trip reports and especially hotel reviews, you know I am the same way wherever I am in the world…
Suddenly, I wonder what it is like to fly as a “foreigner” in the USA, where most U.S. airlines exclusively offer western and/or American meal choices. Is that how pickier visitors experience food on U.S. carriers? (save the joke about everyone feeling that way about food on U.S. airlines)
Thai Airways redeemed itself somewhat with a western breakfast option prior to landing. Still, the six hours I had to wait for it felt like an eternity.
Somehow, I’d even consider the first meal service worse than my previous record holder, a frozen sandwich on United. I’d rather eat that than sushi…