A short history of airline food

Published on 30th May 2016 at 12:00

From the introduction of ovens onboard our Super Constellations in 1947 to being the only airline (we think) to serve up its logo in an inflight meal , Qantas has always lead the way in airline food.

So we got to thinking and decided to share with you a brief history of Qantas Quisine (see what we did there?).

1950s: A Qantas First Class Menu.

1950s: A Qantas First Class Menu.

Back in the early days of flying, passengers were served sandwiches and a cup of tea from a thermos but as more modern aircraft were developed, galleys, or “kitchens in the sky” as they were known became more common allowing more substantial meals to be cooked onboard.

As the jet set era moved into full swing, airlines including Qantas emulated the food trends of the time.

Menus were largely written in French, usually including a main meal such as beef or lamb, with fish served on Fridays.

For most of the 60s and 70s, ‘Nouvelle Cuisine’ was très chic among chefs and we followed the trend serving French dishes in our premium cabin including Filet Mignon Diane (steak diane) and Coq au vin (chicken casserole).

Prior to 1954, all Qantas flights offered one class – First. With the introduction of Economy, or Tourist Class as it was known then, travel became more affordable for more Australians than ever before.

Circa 1959: First Class meal service onboard a Qantas Boeing 707.

Circa 1959: First Class meal service onboard a Qantas Boeing 707.

Recent studies of airfare prices show that it’s 60 times cheaper to fly to London today than it was in 1947 and with the introduction of Economy class, followed by Business – more people were flying and we had to ensure passengers were well fed.

Passengers flying in the 80s and 90s would remember meals such as beef medallions in mushroom sauce with mashed potato or fish served on a bed of rice.

And it was all served on one tray – consisting of a small side salad, cheese and crackers and a dessert.

1970s: Passengers enjoy the meal service in Tourist Class.

1970s: Passengers enjoy the meal service in Tourist Class.

Today – passengers’ taste buds have changed so that’s why we’ve also moved to offer customers the same style of food you could order in your local café or restaurant.

International Economy class customers told us they wanted larger meals, faster service and more choice and so now we offer up to four choices per meal on most flights, our dishes are up to 50 per cent bigger and the service is faster so you have more time to watch a movie or rest.

We have also done away with clunky trays and have come up with an innovative way to infuse our warm bread rolls with garlic butter so that we can reduce waste – no longer do we have to trash thousands of individual butter pads each week.

And we work with more than 1500 Australian suppliers to bring the best of Australian produce to the skies.

We’re always looking to challenge the stereotype of airline food and this month we’ve rolled out new Domestic Economy meals featuring ingredients like quinoa, farro, caramelised fennel and edamame beans.

Check out the clip below to see how you can make one of our delicious new salads at home.

Bon Appétit.

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