When was the last time you chose an airline based on the food it offered? Nope, I've never done it, either. Years back, Virgin Atlantic used to provide pretty good grub, even in cattle class.
No longer: Every recent flight I've taken with them has been characterized by slop guaranteed to make you hurl, from the revolting pizza-like creations filled with tomato paste, peas and carrots (vile!!!), which seemingly got so many complaints it's now off the menu, to bad stews and curries. There was one bright spot--a Christmas dinner with all the trimmings--but, of course, they ran out of it one row ahead of me.
So I'm glad to see thatVirgin
is getting back on track--on its domestic flights, at least--with some mouthwatering-sounding dishes that tap into current food trends. In particular, a banh mi sandwich, which, according to the press release, is a "Vietnamese sandwich made of grilled Asian marinated sliced flat iron steak with shaved cucumber, green leaf lettuce, baby frisée, fresh sprigs of cilantro and topped with a Vietnamese slaw of julienne carrots, daikon radish and red onion. Asian ginger dressing is served on the side."
OK, you have to pay between $7 and $10 for it if you're in the Main Cabin (it's free if you're in "Main Cabin Select"; First Class passengers are treated to a menu by famed chef Luke Mangan), but it beats the hell out of forking out the same amount for a coffee and a cake at a packed airport Starbucks.
No wonder the airline took Travel + Leisure magazine's "Best Domestic Airline for Food" award last month. Could this be a sign of things to come? If so, what can we expect to see next from Virgin et al--mini kogi trucks being wheeled down the aisles?
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Update, Sunday October 4: My colleague, Matt, sent me a tip about a story on Travelmole.com that talks about airline food. The article discusses food-related studies conducted by airlines, which conclude that "passengers are actually happier paying for something they want to eat rather than getting free food they don't want."
That's pretty obvious, but what did surprise me was the amount--up to $21, according to Virgin America--that we're willing to pay. That's a lot, especially when the flight itself can be as little as 50 bucks. However, the story goes on to concede, for us to pay that much, " the food needs to be fresh and cocktails high quality."
Cocktails?! Get me on that flight!