Infinite Legroom

Gourmet Meals Available in Economy

Airlines offer a first class entrée for the back of the plane.

Would you like some peanuts, sir? No, I’ll take the Schnitzel. You might find yourself actually saying that sooner than later.

It seems, airlines have finally realized that despite the fact you’re sitting in coach, you still have taste buds. And certain carriers are offering gourmet meals for all. Some require pre-ordering and others let you do it on the spot. So even if you’re not flying first class, at least you can eat like it.

We’ve found the best options and laid them out for you like a full breakfast spread–lox and all. Get ready to indulge in some airline food you can’t pronounce. 


The first airline to offer real gourmet food, AirBerlin, teamed up with upscale German restaurant Sansibar, a restaurant that usually takes weeks to get a reservation at. Gourmet meals from Sansibar are offered for flights ranging from 60 minutes to 6 hours.

Meal Choices:

Cult curried sausage – Made from veal and pork, served with spicy curry sauce and a bread roll.

Duck breast fillet – In orange sauce with a baked apple filled with winter ingredients, almonds and sultanas, and small potato noodles with melted butter and red cabbage with boiled apples.

Diced chicken – In a pepper cream sauce with mashed potatoes and sautéed carrots.

King prawns – Served in tomato sauce with white wine risotto and zucchini and carrot spaghetti.

Fillet of chicken breast – With Tortiglioni pasta, leaf spinach with Sansibar hollandaise and sun-dried tomatoes.

How to order: Up to 48 hours before departure, use your flight confirmation number to book a meal on the AirBerlin website.

Image courtesy of AirBerlin

Hawaiian Airlines

Taking advantage of its unique culture, Hawaiian Airlines offers passengers locally sourced foods that “evoke the spirit of Hawaii.”

Meal Choices:
Wasabi ranch popcorn
Toffee covered macadamia nuts
Gokuho Sushi
Kauai’s Anahola Granola
Baked goods from Punalu’u Bake Shop.

How to order: On transpacific flights, premium meals are $10 and offered in-flight, so you don’t have to do anything ahead of time. Plus, every premium meal comes with a complimentary beverage (yes, including alcohol).


U.S. Airways

The first American airline to jump on board, U.S. Airways offers DineFresh meals with a choice of wine, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, or Merlot all for just $19.99.

Meal Choices:

Asian chicken or beef – With noodles, cucumber and shrimp salad, and crème brulee cheesecake with fresh berries.

Assorted charcuterie – Assorted cured meats and cheeses, Mediterranean salad and turtle cheesecake.

Vegetarian option – Orzo pasta with portobello mushrooms and tomatoes, served with assorted cheeses, tomato and jicama salad, crackers and raspberry swirl cheesecake is also available.

How to order: At least 24 hours before departure, log on to the U.S. Airways DineFresh™ website to purchase your meal. Currently, premium meals are only available for flights departing from Charlotte (CLT) and Philadelphia (PHL), but the airline is planning to expand the program soon.

Image courtesy of U.S. Airways


KLM brings to the fold down tray, a variety of ethnic cuisine options with à la carte for intercontinental flights departing from Amsterdam. Munchies, anyone?

Meal Choices:

Dutch tradition – Starts with a beef salad and asparagus spears wrapped in ham. Then for your entrée comes Plaice (flatfish), Hollandaise sauce, mashed potatoes, sugar snaps and carrots. Dutch cheeses with walnuts and plums is proceeded with dessert– spiced biscuit mousse with caramel sauce.

Japanese delight – For starters you get sushi, seaweed salad and smoked salmon with wasabi mayonnaise. The main course is a chicken dish with steamed rice, vegetables and a salad made of Japanese soba noodles with sesame seeds. For dessert, a vanilla mousse with strawberry compote is served.

Bella Italia – Begins with antipasti and olives, artichoke, goat cheese, stuffed salami, spinata romana, prosciutto ham and mixed greens. Pasta carbonara comes next with pancetta and cheese sauce topped with pine nuts. A Caprese salad is served on the side with tiramisu for dessert.

Cold delicacies – Smoked salmon and coconut-marinated prawns to start. An entree of salad, sautéed chicken strips, roasted sweet peppers, boiled egg and mixed greens. On the side you get organic cheeses such as garlic and Gouda cheese with rye bread, organic tomato jam and walnuts.

Indonesian rice dish – Kohodo salad with sweet potato, coconut and lemongrass marinated shrimp and Asian fruit salad. A meat of Beef Rendang, or spicy beef stew, is served with rice and sliced green beans. For the side dish a ketoprak sald with noodles and vegetables is offered. Concluding with dessert, is spekkoek (layered cake).

How to order: Order at least 48 hours before departure when you book your flight or on the KLM website under “My Trip.” Meals cost between 12-15 euros (16-20 USD).

Image courtesy of KLM

Alaska Airlines

Operating out of the Pacific Northwest, Alaska Airlines has updated their in-flight service with its “Northern Bites” menu. Although not necessarily gourmet, passengers on flights over 2.5 hours that depart before 9:30 a.m. can have a hearty, filling meal.

Meal Choices:

Starbucks – Coffee is served on all flights from Seattle’s own Pike Place Market.

Breakfast Skillet – Scrambled eggs, mushrooms, Swiss cheese and ham with breakfast potatoes.

Reuben Sandwich – Turkey pastrami, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and Thousand Island dressing on marble rye.

French Toast Breakfast Sandwich – Egg, Applewood smoked bacon and maple butter on French toast.

Grilled Chicken Mac ‘n’ Cheese – Grilled chicken and mix of Monterey Jack and white cheddar cheese with Cavatappi pasta.

For Hawaii destinations:

Hawaiian Breakfast Skillet – Scrambled eggs and Portuguese sausage served with pineapple-fried rice with coconut.

Aloha Mix Plate -Grilled teriyaki chicken with steamed white rice, cabbage and mac ‘n’ cheese.

Kalua Pork Quesadilla – Shredded pork, Monterey Jack cheese, sautéed cabbage and onions in a toasted tortilla with vegetable fried rice.

How to order: All meals are available in-flight with a major credit card for just $6.

Image courtesy of Alaska Airlines

Austrian Airlines

Offered on all European flights, their “DO & CO à la carte” gourmet meals are an offering of fresh, unique ingredients for just 15 Euros (20 USD).

Meal Choices:

Breakfasts available include:
Warm breakfast -Scrambled eggs, bacon, fresh tomatoes and mushrooms
Cold breakfast – Hard-boiled eggs, turkey, ham, fresh tomatoes cucumber, squash and cheese.

Dinners available include:
Bento Box
Caesars salad
Chicken in red pepper sauce
“Best of Meze”

How to order: Up to 36 hours before flight departure on the Austrian Airlines gourmet food page with your booking number. However, if you’re flying from the Vienna airport you can order your gourmet meal up to one hour before departure from a special kiosk in the airport located at Check-in 3.

Image courtesy of Austrian Airlines
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