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.
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.