Show and Tell: Qantas Dinner Boxes
Airline food just got 48,493 airmiles better with the launch of Qantas food boxes on domestic and short-haul flights. And I was on hand to sample the new fodder at the spectacular Sydney-meets-Silicon-Valley Qantas Campus in Sydney last week.
Sitting down to a dinner table dressed with white linen and Marc Newson-designed cutlery and dinnerware is not the usual economy class experience. Nor was the beautiful light-filled setting in ‘The Street’, the title given to the expansive foyer at the Qantas Campus, which just happened to feature a spinning turbine engine statement piece.
But these were the only differences to the new Qantas economy class meal experience, as I’m delighted to report the new food boxes were more Prêt-a-Manger than Prêt-a-Puke.
Like so many people who have travelled business class a few times, making that right-hand turn when you board a plane is all the more painful. Sadly, your senses don’t forget past businesss class pleasures, so you’re all the more aware of every jammed knee, questionable odour and stodgy foil-sealed plastic meals of food that invariably looks, smells and tastes like a really bad beef strogonoff.
It seems that the folk at Qantas are keenly aware of this difference, too, so they’ve made every effort to make flying economy measurably more enjoyable with the kind of meals you’d find on the hand-lettered chalkboard of any Rather Good Sydney Cafe.
Think Japanese slaw with poached chicken, ginger and sesame seeds; farfalle pesto salad with proscuitto and toasted hazlenuts; lentil, quinoa and falafel salad with feta and pomegranate dressing; beer battered flathead fillets with spiced wedges and lemon; butter chicken with basmatic rice and naan bread; beef with oyster sauce, shallots, red capsicums and Hokkien noodles. See? No grey meat covered in weird non-moving gravy in sight.
So was it any good?
Well, if you asked me if I would order the same thing in a restaurant again, which just happens to be the Masterchef test (so it MUST be valid), then yes, Qantas has passed with flying colours. Specifically, I would happily order the Japanese slaw with poached chicken, edamame, ginger and sesame seeds. It was crunchy and fresh and tangy and utterly delicious – the kind of adjectives one doesn’t traditionally use when describing economy class plane food.
The fresh new meals are packaged up and presented in smart French navy boxes, featuring hand-drawn illustrations by Nicole Falleiro. It’s a really clever, savvy move for Qantas, and the boxes also introduce a more streamlined service for faster meal delivery and clearing, while also providing customers more space to work, or in the case of kids, open up their iPads or colour-in.
As for dessert, it’s nice to see that Qantas have decided to stick to what they know is a popular people-pleaser. Enter a bowl of Lindt Lindor Balls. Ta very much, Qantas.
Now, I know that re-heating a heckload of food at high altitude presents some tricky issues, but let’s see what you can do for long-haul flights, eh?
Tell me: what’s been your best or worst plane food experience? I’d love to hear your stories!