When was the last time you had an in-flight meal that actually tasted good? While lessened taste sensation at high altitudes is one reason for this problem, the reality is that airlines have long been known for providing nutritious and speedy meals without much thought for taste. Close quarters and lack of cooking space make it difficult to cater to the palettes of passengers, but many airlines are realizing they need to make a change. In fact, it’s becoming more and more common, at least on first class or business class flights, for airlines to offer chef-inspired dishes, and travelers are reaping the benefit.

The Challenges of Cooking in the Air

Presenting exceptional meals while on board an airline isn’t a task for the faint of heart. Lack of space means it’s difficult to come up with silverware and dishes that work on the aircraft. It’s also challenging to cook made-to-order dishes without taking up valuable space on the aircraft for a stove and oven. Finally, reduced taste sensations mean dishes have to be even more flavorful in the air for people to truly enjoy them. Yet in spite of these challenges, some airlines are making a switch to provide a fine dining experience for passengers.

American Airlines Rises to the Challenge

One of the airlines taking on this challenge is American Airlines. The largest airline in the world, American Airlines is starting to offer better dining options on its long-haul international flights, focusing on foods common to the regions that people are traveling to or from. The airline brought on Jun Kurogi, renowned Japan Airlines chef, to create traditional Japanese meals for their passengers on Asian flights. On flights from Sydney or Auckland to the US, award-winning Australian Chef Sean Connolly has created some unique dishes. These are just some of the points that American Airlines passengers will now have when traveling internationally.

Other Airlines Also Rising to the Challenge

Other airlines are also rising to this challenge, embracing the help of celebrity chefs to bring better dining experiences to their patrons. Luke Mangan and Peter Gordon are two such chefs. Luke Mangan partners with Virgin Australia to bring exceptional food to the airlines passengers. With the loss of taste sensation, Mangan is focusing on adding flavor to traditional dishes so they are tasty and aromatic on a long flight.

Luke Mangan and Sir Richard Branson cooking

Peter Gordon is now on board with Air New Zealand, creating tasty concoctions that translate well into airline food. One of his favorites is a peanut butter parfait that is a favorite in his Auckland restaurant.

Some airlines are doing more than just using the food of excellent chefs to please their passengers. Etihad has actually brought in-flight chefs on all of their long and medium-haul flights for first class passengers. The chef is able to help passengers choose wine pairings for their meals and also create special order foods in a small kitchen. A focus on fresh ingredients is making these foods more healthy and delicious as well.

So what does this mean for your next trip? Depending on where you are going and what airline you are flying, you just might be in for more than traditional airline faire. You may be in for a fine dining experience in the sky!

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