Nik Loukas has flown around the world reviewing airline food, from fabulous first-class fare to inedible mystery meals.
But there’s still a few Aussie airline offerings he’s itching to try — including a vegan burger on Tigerair Australia.
Since Melbourne-born Loukas moved to Europe six years ago, his quest to find the world’s best airline food has seen him set up website InflightFeed, clock up about 500,000 air miles and consume about 400 in-flight meals.
Despite a few shockers of meals (ahem Ukraine International Airlines and Air India), he says running the review site has opened his eyes to how much work goes into each meal, “even that economy class dish!”
And he’s now working on delving behind the scenes to discover the inside stories of airline kitchens with his upcoming documentary “The Inflight Food trip”.
“I don’t want to give away too much else of the storyline, but basically I want to show people what happens behind the scenes, and the lengths that airlines go to in order to give you something decent,” he says.
While Aussie airlines may not serve the world’s best inflight food — that honour is shared by Turkish Airlines, Singapore Airlines and Spain’s Air Europa — they’re doing a pretty good job, according to Loukas.
Here’s a few of his tips for eating well on Australian flights:
“I’m loving what Qantas is doing in economy class, removing the trays and increasing the meal portions. I remember reading they even offered a Wagyu beef dish in economy!” Loukas says.
“They’re the only airline that I know of that allow economy class customers to pre order their main meal for their upcoming flight, that’s quite a great system they have in place.”
Avoiding meat when flying Tigerair could score you the best meal on the plane, Loukas suggests. Although he’s yet to try it himself, he’s had good reports about the airline’s vegan burger.
“Rowie’s veggie burger” is a chickpea, coriander and sweet corn patty with paprika and rancheros sauce in a chia and quinoa bun.
“I’ve heard it’s meant to be great,” Loukas says.
“I really enjoyed my pre order meals on a recent flight from Melbourne to Tokyo with Jetstar, I loved how they offered some well known Melbourne brands (like Harry and Larry’s chocolate mousse from Brunswick) on my tray,” Loukas says.
“Jetstar allows you to pre-order a meal on international flights up to four hours prior to departure. That’s a great service to offer, as most airlines require at least 24-48 hours notice.”
“I love that Virgin decided to bring back complimentary offerings in economy,” he says.
GOLDEN RULES OF INFLIGHT FOOD
What to eat
“If there’s a curry offering on your flight, take it. It’s one of the best tasting inflight meals that works really well at altitude. Also ice cream is always a winner at high altitude too.”
What to avoid
“Try to avoid too much bread, it can bloat you and may even make you feel sluggish later on. I once only ate cold soups and cold dishes for all my main meals on a 12 hour flight from Seoul to Frankfurt, and felt really good when I walked off the flight at the other end.”
How to get the best deal
“Pre order, either at the time of booking your ticket, or a week before your flight. Most airlines will offer an incentive for you to pre order before your flight, sometimes 10 maybe even 20 per cent. That’s not a bad incentive,” says Loukas.
“But of course if you’re not interested in doing that you can always pack your own lunch and enjoy it when you get in the air. Most of us complain about the prices inflight, but have you seen the prices at the airport too?”
Have you found fantastic food in the air - or had a disappointing dining experience? Share your tips on the best food to order, and what to avoid with us at email@example.com