A recent article at CNN.com does its best make you feel better about dropping a few thousand on a plane ticket, especially if you’re a discerning travel foodie. Depending which airline you are flying, a first-class ticket can include some pretty fancy meals, individually plated, and designed by world-renowned chefs. Sam Choy works with American Airlines as a consultant and sometimes he even gets on a plane to watch passengers’ reactions to dishes he created:
I like to watch people’s facial expressions after they get their first bite. When they kind of rock their heads back and forth, I like that. That tells me something good has just happened.
According to chef Michelle Bernstein – consultant to Delta Airlines — taste buds don’t work as well at 35,000 feet. So she cranks up the spice and herbs to make the experience a little more intense. Some of the obstacles a chef has to consider when designing the meals:
- The meals have to fit on trays for easy stacking, so large or vertical foods don’t work.
- The food cannot dry out too easily. Turbulence can cause flight attendants to remain seated longer than planned, so food can sit in the heating ovens longer than intended.
Flight attendants are even given photos and notes on how the food is supposed to look. About a first-class experience that passenger Jake Richard recently had:
It really didn’t feel like flying, it was just like being in a comfy location for 14 hours and just being pampered thoroughly.
But at what cost? In another article at CNN.com, Rob Cockerham did a little experiment to find the most expensive flights he could find. From calling different airlines, he found:
- $11,000 – first-class roundtrip from California to Johannesburg, South Africa
- $19,000 – first-class roundtrip from the West Coast to Sydney, Australia
- $26,000 – first-class roundtrip from California to London, England
While these prices seem ludicrous, consumer adviser and HLN money expert Clark Howard says:
It is extremely rare, almost unheard of that anybody pays those true, full retail prices. The funny thing about sitting in first class is that almost nobody sitting in first class actually paid real money for that seat. The overwhelming number of people are in some method or fashion upgrading from a lower price ticket in the next cabin down.
Maybe it’s time to use those saved up air miles for some first-class luxury.
[Image: Richard Moross / Flickr]