Todd Bliwise has been flying around the world for years, and knows the airline industry in and out. He’ll be sharing his tips and tricks with us in this column, Speed of Flight. Today: The best food in business class.
A few weeks ago, I ranked the best meals in first class—but the meals in business cabins aren’t anything to shake your fork at, either. Though business-class service is typically more robotic and the food is served from a cart rather than individually served and plated, the meals themselves are usually the exact same quality as that in first class. From a lobster dinner to perfectly cooked beef, here are my top five picks for the best food in business class.
1. Singapore Airlines
One of this carrier’s major strengths is “book the cook“—a pre-flight meal ordering service that they offer for both business class and first. The menus, which all vary depending on their destination, are as long as some restaurant menus. Singapore Airlines’ famous lobster thermidor also appears in business class—but, of course, is much smaller than those in first class get to savor.
2. Etihad Airways
I really enjoy the flatbread and mezze offerings in Etihad’s business-class meals. This kind of fun, indulgent appetizer, which is packed with flavor, sets the tone of the meal. You can also pick sides and have more control over what you’re eating, which sets Etihad apart.
Like with Singapore Airlines, Emirates’ strong suit is the availability of choices. It tends to have a very large menu, offering 4-5 different main courses depending on route. Everything from the beef to the fish (yes, fish!) is good, though I do find the Middle Eastern dishes to be the strongest. I also enjoy that in business class on their A380 jet, there is a bar with light snacks and an actual bartender, which adds to the entire experience of wining and dining onboard. Emirates isn’t the only airline to offer this, but it’s the only one on my list that does.
4. Qatar Airways
Currently, Qatar Airways doesn’t offer first class to the United States, which means they must focus on their business-class offerings as being their top-tier experience. Consequently, many will find the stunning service, individual plating, and table service more like a first-class experience than that of business class. The food is always exceptional, too—they have done a good job of having strong western dishes right alongside their Middle Eastern dishes.
5. Virgin Australia
A surprise to many, I’m sure, but Virgin (like Qatar Airways) has done a fantastic job of showing off their highest cabin with a wonderful meal service. Complete with a salt/pepper shaker shaped like the Sydney Opera House, the entire experience is service with a smile, start to finish. The beef is often the strength on these flights, and I’ve never received it overcooked. Though the overall selection of meals isn’t the widest, what is offered onboard is always fantastic. The meal service is served individually plated, which, as you can probably tell, I am a huge fan of in business. If you ask me, on a 15-hour flight, I can spare a few moments for a proper table setting!
Todd Bliwise is the founder of An Avenue Apart.
Photo courtesy Virgin Australia