Friendly chefs and full meals are back onboard Turkish Airlines flights. It’s a good step. It also reminds me how nice it would be just to get a “real” glass or cup on U.S. carriers…
Turkish Airlines Restores Catering + Onboard Chef. Your Turn, U.S. Carriers!
Turkish Airlines went from best to worst in terms of in-flight catering during the pandemic. Known for its exquisite multi-course meals and elaborate cart service, that all disappeared in March 2020 when the pandemic led to a rapid halt in global air traffic.
For over a year, Turkish Airlines business class passengers received a small pre-packaged meal. No alcohol or even coffee was served.
> Read More: Turkish Airlines Engages in Self-Cannibalism With Catering Cuts
But last month Turkish Airlines resorted hot meals on flights over two hours. This month, it has restored chefs onboard flights over eight hours. Wearing white hats and uniforms, these specially-trained flight attendants take meal orders and ensure that each course is nicely presented.
As Turkish Airlines explained it:
“Throughout the past year, we’ve had to make many adjustments to our product and service offerings to protect the health and safety of our passengers and employees. Our award-winning dining service and Flying Chefs program is a distinguishing aspect of the airline, and we are happy to reintroduce this to our worldwide guests to make the flight experience as comfortable and enjoyable as possible.”
It is very clear the meal service adjustments were about cost, not safety. It isn’t clear whether the full service (trolley carts, plated entrees, full coffee and bar menu) are back or just the chefs serving pre-plated hot entrees (similar to what is served on shorthaul flights).
Which leads me to my main point…
Dear U.S. carriers, don’t you think it is time to bring back “real” cups and glasses onboard? For passenger comfort? For the environment? Put aside the issue that COVID-19 does not spread by surfaces. Let’s just focus on logic.
How does it make sense to use real dishes and real flatware and real linen, all of which are collected by flight attendants, but not use real cups and glasses? All of these items (except, hopefully, the plates) come into contact with our mouths.
Of course this is about cost-cutting and the fact that throw-away cups are cheaper than washing glasses.
But drinking coffee or wine or even water out of paper or plastic cup is simply not the same.
The move by Turkish Airlines to restore meal service onboard and now restore chefs onboard is a move in the right direction. Carriers across Europe and Asia are looking more like their pre-pandemic selves when it comes to onboard service. Now it is time for U.S. carriers to catch-up.
You are absolutely right – I brought my own glass on my last UA flight, much to the merriment of the FAs. That said, they still pre-poured into a fresh plastic cup each time.
It’s also ridiculous for the airlines to espouse green commitments and Eco programs with the sheer amount of disposable single use plastic packaging in use right now.
I know we’ve all been affected by COVID-19 and the airlines certainly did. I echo your question….And my personal interpretation is why are we quick to stop but slow to implement? As a weekly flier through every week of the pandemic I’ve seen Heath restrictions / cost cutting by airlines and airports. It’s time to examine everything and bring back the regular touches that travelers enjoyed and willingly paid for. (I’ve travelled AA for years and as an executive platinum member it didn’t stop my booking a delta flight to make sure I’m not missing out…). Good article.
Good comments! I admire pgSFO on bring glasses, I could even bring one from the airline 😉
On last week’s flight on UA to Denver, I did bring limes for my G&T 🙂
They all joined in the race to the bottom in respect of customer service and amenities; now they’ll ‘test the water’ to see what level of diminished service they can get away with In perpetuity, subject as always to what the competition is doing. Airlines will be ‘dining out’ on COVID for years if not decades to come.
The numbers in Turkey are out of control. It must be directly related to TK’s catering and onboard chef. Think of all the unnecessary interactions with these chefs, spreading germs back and forth, not to mention the additional surface contact concerns. It’d be safer for the US airlines to hold back on all onboard food and beverage until Joe and Kamala declare victory over COVID-19 next fall.
I agree with you matthew — but I remember about a year ago you forewarning that the TK cuts would be permanent and were not due to the pandemic… well, time has borne that out to be totally false
Not a TK fanboy here just remember arguing with you about it around Apr 2020
You are right and I stand corrected!
The pre-pandemic meal service is NOT back. I flew ORD-IST this past Saturday. The chefs were there, but the service was identical to what it has been since the hot meals have come back. No appetizer trolley. No choice of appetizers. No choice of dessert. No cheese. Entrees were pre-plated and served covered, so the chefs were not doing any plating. While nice to see the chefs back, there really wasn’t anything for them to do.
I wonder if something has changed within the last few days? I flew TK this week (intra-Europe) and it was like old times (though stuff was covered). There was cheese (plus yogurt, plus appetizer plate, plus three main course choices, plus full beverage menu).
I fly back IST-ORD tomorrow and will report on the experience. I would love to see the old service return, or at least the choices restored. Interestingly, the short haul connecting flight (IST-BEG) was supposed to have no service, but boxed meals were provided in Business Class.
“Do you want the Can Sir?”
Seriously I agree except for the environmental plastic argument. My guess is that taking the china and glass from a plane at an airport and taking it to a facility to wash it and then bringing it back to airplanes for the next use isn’t any better than just using plastic for those that believe the sky is falling because of single-use plastic. That being said, I enjoy real glass or dinnerware on a plane.
According to their website, they serve warm food over 2 hours on business, not 2 hours 25 minutes, which is important for routes like VIE-IST, BUD-IST, etc.
“The Business Class passengers on international flights over 2 hours and Economy Class passengers on international flights over 2 hours and 15 minutes are served warm options and cold/hot drinks.”
It’s fascinating to me that ~24 months ago plastic straws were the topic du jour and companies were tripping over themselves to prove who was more eco friendly in switching to paper alternatives. Then covid came along. I’m appalled by the face mask waste on the streets in virtually every city. And airlines eco commitments? So much for those. I flew AA first from ORD-MIA a few months back and, no exaggeration, every passenger in the business class cabin had 4-5 rounds of drinks. 16 x 5 = 80 plastic cups thrown away just in the first class cabin. Can it really cost that much to wash an actual glass or coffee mug? I don’t understand the motive – we know covid isn’t transmitted from a glass. Sure – the glasses weigh more than plastic cups but I’d think the waste prevention would offset the fuel consumed. Sadly I think it’s still irrational consumer demand (I recently saw someone in a restaurant (a nice one with table cloths) ask to have all her beverages served in disposable cups. The FA unions aren’t helping either.
State run carrier by dictator regime restores inflight service. One should note that Turkey does not care if you get covid or not you are most likely just transiting. For them its the money that counts for the government. Maybe take a look back when Turkey only counted symptomatic cases for almost a year just to lower their covid cases…
Or the fact tourists can move around now but locals are in lockdown. Its all just money for the government they don’t care about your health, gladly give you a glass and full meal including covid. Is it that hard to drink out of a plastic cup btw?
Matthew, no material difference in service flying IST-ORD on Friday. No pre-meal drink service, no choice of appetizer, no trolley, three pre-plated meal options, no choice of dessert. There was, to be fair, some cheese on the tray, but that was the only difference. Pre-arrival meal was the same deal, albeit with only two choices.
Food quality was noticeably better coming out of IST, but service was identical.
Thanks for the report!