BLD London Edition: The Tale of Two Plane Meals

photoSo I missed the last few days of posts due to technical difficulties I had with my cell phone carrier (AT&T, thanks for nothing). But I’m not letting that keep me from blogging now: Over the next few days I’ll be posting a series of “BLD London Edition” entries, on everything from a salted beef sandwich from heaven on Brick Lane, to my new cider obsession, and even a decadent 10-course tasting menu at one of Ramsay’s best.

What better place to start than at the beginning?

I’m of the camp that didn’t cry (or cry out) when most domestic airlines stopped offering complimentary meals as I always thought they were sort of crap to begin with, so I had modest expectations for dinner on my transatlantic flight on British Airways on Friday night. (The only thing I was really looking forward to was the free booze.)

photo-1I was so, so wrong. British Airways’ service is so good, so premium, that I ended up mildly embarrasing myself asking the frequent flier next to me: “Is this a typical BA flight or are we on some sort of special premium service route?”

I really couldn’t believe it. In addition to the standard pillow, blanket, headsets, personal TV screen in the seatback in front of you, I found a lovely little packet labeled: “Your socks, eyeshades, toothbrush and toothpaste.” Score one.

photoFood and beverage service began with drinks and some lovely little seasoned pretzels. I couldn’t find a list of drinks available (always have to scope for what’s different or unusual), so when the flight attendant got to my row, I asked her, “Is there a list of what’s available?”

She replies, “Well, what would you like?”
I’m still curious. “Well, what do you have?”
And get this, her answer: “Everything.”

photo-2Score two, a full-service bar, airborne! So I opted for a whiskey (Johnny Walker, Red Label) and a half-decent little sauvignon blanc, and settled in for the flight.

… What an absolute night-and-day experience from my return yesterday on US Airways, where the flight attendant informed me that there will be a charge for the wine (a Beringer’s chardonnay, bleh!), and then tried to justify the charge with some lame story about passengers drinking too much when it’s free.

Alright, fine: Offer one complimentary beverage with the meal service, and if a passenger would like additional, then charge them. But don’t be so cheap as to pass off the blame for your crappy inflight policy onto the customer.

On the subject of cheapness, let’s talk about my two meals.

photo-3Both times I opted for the pasta dish. British Airways’ cheese-stuffed shells were substantial, saucy, cheesy and better than expected. The meal came with a proper side salad of lettuce (albeit iceberg), a roll, dessert and tons of little bells and whistles such as coffee accouterments, etc.

photo-4I’m going to assume that US Airways’ tube pasta was supposed to be in some sort of cream sauce, most of which had sunk to the bottom of the tray, and the shells were covered in a sprinkling of ground beef (?) that was so diminutive it seemed like an afterthought. My pasta was served with a side salad, too, a pasta salad (above). As well as a roll, as well as a brownie. My meal was 100% carbohydrates and sugar, unless you count the beef sprinkles or the olives in the small pasta salad, which I just didn’t even have the heart to eat.

photo-7Unfortunately for me, yesterday before lunch on the plane I’d eaten a bag of Walker’s salt & vinegar potato chips, which only compounded the lack of variety. The second meal service yesterday wasn’t much better: A giant hunk of focaccia bread with a few slices of turkey and cheese. Looking back, I think I only consumed carbohydrates yesterday, including this black & tan as I waited for my delayed flight from Philly home to New York.

Teaser: Such a food letdown after the amazing meal the night before …


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