Ranking the World’s Best Airline Food

Posted in In the Air

There are some topics that come up repeatedly in the tiny corner of the world that Fly&Dine occupies. One of them is why airline food tastes so bad. Another is about who has the best airline food in the whole wide world. They both make sense, based on what internet readers gravitate towards. Explanations of life’s little foibles garner lots of attention (6 Reasons Why Your Hands Get Dry!) and lists of things that people care about do equally well (The 11 Worst Breakfast Cereals in Eastern Europe!).

Ranking the food of an airline is a perfect way to get readers and that’s why you see it everywhere. Everyone from Saveur to seat-finding utility SeatGuru has gotten in on the action. Now, the San Jose Mercury News — that bastion of international travel content — has published their rankings (which are actually just republished from theluxurytravelexpert.com). So which airlines have the best food (according to some schlub somewhere…)? Here’s the list:

1. Austrian Airlines

2. Singapore Airlines

3. Qatar Airways

4. Turkish Airlines

5. Air France

6. Cathay Pacific

7. Etihad Airways

8. Air New Zealand

9. Swiss International Air Lines

10. Emirates airline

Let’s contrast this with the five airlines nominated for Best Food & Beverage for the 2015 Passengers Choice Awards (which I’ve covered before):

Best Food & Beverage*
(in conjunction with the International Flight Services Association)
Ethiopian Airlines
Korean Airlines
Turkish Airlines
Qatar Airways

While Emirates, Turkish, and Qatar all make both lists, Ethiopian (?!?) and Korean are definitely outliers. In fact, I’ve never heard anyone rave about anything on Ethiopian Airlines. Heck, I’ve never heard anyone say they’ve flown Ethiopian.

The lists are interesting in that I would have expected a much heavier focus on the Asian and Middle Eastern airlines, but European carriers seem to have really impressed the list-makers. I’ve flown on Air France and while I really did enjoy the meal in business, I wouldn’t classify it as one of the best in the world.

What do you think of these lists? What’s your favorite airline in terms of food? If we get enough responses in the comments, I’ll put together a list of Fly&Dine’s Top Airlines for Food.



  1. So far we have been in premium cabins on turkish, ANA, JAL, Cathay, Thai, American….

    I actually liked the food on JAL, Turkish, and ANA, in that order. The others were tolerable. Wine on Cathay and JAL were both a real treat as well.

  2. Totally agree with Austrian being number 1… Have not flown them in a couple of years but whenever I have (business class), it has always been very good. Surprised Cathay is as high as it is — have done 4 long haul flights with them in business in the last couple of months and it was very so-so. Also surprised that Emirates is so low (but my experience with them is only in First (Shanghai-Dubai-Jo’burg and London-Dubai-Sydney) and I have always found their food excellent. I agree with Singapore being on the list and while I used to be a big fan of Thai they have really downgraded the quality in the past 5-6 years.

    It’s always fun to see lists as i suspect that there are not too many people who could actually confidently/competently compile one within a short period of time without a lot of sponsorship from airlines…so I always assume that they have done the rankings based on flights over more than one year…

  3. SQ deserves to be on that list. Their “Book the Cook” service for First and Business Class allows you to pick your meal from a long list and it’s delicious! Add to that some very good wine and champagne and great service and you get world class!

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