Only weeks after we reported on the business class layout to avoid at all costs, a first-class meal that falls far below the standards you’d expect of a luxury cabin has crossed our desk, earning the less-than-prestigious title of the in-flight meal you absolutely should steer clear of.
We already know that in-flight meals can cause uproar when not executed to the standards flyers expect; just take the “threatening” business class passenger who diverted an entire flight after not getting their meal of choice as a prime example. Now, this infamous meal may be giving passengers a new reason to lose their temper…
WATCH: Things could always be worse — you could be a business-class vegan:
Why Is Plane Food So Bad?
Before we get into the specific email that’s caused upset across the sector, its worth taking a minute to understand why aeroplane food is never that great, no matter your cabin or airline of choice. In large part, this has to do with the logistics that go into preparing food for consumption at 30,000 feet.
In-flight meals are prepared in vast quantities — often thousands at a time, as Singapore Airlines’ omelette production line shows — and have to survive for hours between creation and consumption; finding foods that still look, feel, and taste acceptable after hours in the lurch is no mean feat.
If you then factor in studies that show how your taste buds are up to 15% less generous while mid-air, as reported by Science ABC, you can begin to see how airlines are facing an uphill struggle with food, especially premium meal options for business and first-class cabins.
Sympathetic segment over; now, let’s reveal the offending meal and tell you just how bad it is…
The Meal Of First-Class Nightmares
The meal in question is United Airline’s cheeseburger and fries. Given that this meal is not only an American classic but made its way to icon status amongst all of America’s culinary output primarily because it’s easy to prepare and pretty hard to get wrong, this may come as something of a surprise.
United Airlines food has come under attack fairly often — their lobster roll and turkey sandwiches both received furious backlash shortly after launch — but the burger and fires seem to have found a uniquely unloved place in the hearts of critics thanks to its congealed cheesy patty and soggy, undercooked fries.
Officially, the burger is advertised as a ‘four-cheese skillet burger with caramelised onion and jalapenos’, served with a side of ‘crinkle cut fries’ and a small side salad. While the burger does retain some flavour because it’s doused in cheese, the fries really drag the entire email down; fries are nigh-on impossible to prepare on a plane, and these are no exception to this very bland rule.
Don’t Take My Word For It
However, I don’t want anyone to think that this is unsubstantiated slander, so let’s see what a couple of veteran flyers had to say about the offending meal: Gary Leff, head honcho over at View From The Wing, described the fries as “undercooked and limp”, having the texture of “mealy potatoes”. But he reserved his most savage criticism for the “actually disgusting” burger itself…
“Don’t look at the meat. Seriously. The term ‘grey burger’ has been applied to United’s offering, and I think that’s fair…”Gary Leff
Ben Schalppig from One Mile At A Time was similarly underwhelmed, adding a stinging criticism by way of an unflattering comparison to a major fast food chain:
“There is a certain irony to having a first class meal where the best thing you can say about it is that it’s not quite as good as McDonald’s…”Ben Schalppig
The Better Burger
If you love the idea of an in-flight burger but can’t stand the thought of eating United’s less-than-ideal offering, then apparently Lufthansa have perfected the recipe… or, at least, they’ve gotten as close as you realistically can. They forgo the fries — seemingly aware that you just can’t get them right mid-air — but the burger itself is a class act.