However it is very patient unfriendly.
No stretchers allowed.
Safe patients on business class is fine.
There should be a word for the sensation we experience when peeling back the foil lid from a tray of warm gloop. There’s a release of tension, a sense of comfort coupled with anticipation.
I adore aeroplane food. From the soggiest £7 bacon sandwich on an early-morning easyJet flight, to the grandest gratin (which wasn’t really that grand, but I ate it on the one occasion I flew business and was given a proper knife and fork), I find it all thrilling and delicious. When I’m down on the ground I’m hardly a culinary connoisseur, but at 10,000 feet, I genuinely enjoy all flavours – especially hot, salty and beige. So I’m sad to hear that British Airways is cutting meals in economy class for people on long-haul flights. In a bid to keep costs down, those on flights shorter than eight and a half hours will no longer be served two full hot meals. Just one meal, and a snack.
People profess to hate airline food, so it’s strange that my fellow passengers always turn into jumpy meerkats as soon as the flight attendants start wheeling a trolley down the aisles. I suspect few people want to admit that they lose any discernment concerning their diets when they get off the ground. After all, it’s very hard to go to India and brag about how much you enjoyed all the authentic dishes, and how anyone who orders tikka masala should serve time for crimes against taste if you confess to smacking your lips over cheesy tomato pasta and an individual Lily O’Brien truffle. But when you’re flying, the food is an event, and the ritual of unwrapping and discovering what’s for dinner is one of the highlights of my holidays. It definitely beats hours spent walking the streets searching for secret restaurants that no other tourist has heard of.
Once you’re in the air, flying can be very boring. If it isn’t boring, there’s probably turbulence and you’re desperately telling yourself that everything is normal and quite dull really, while your brain screams “THIS IS IT, WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE!” Being given a warm container of savoury goo surrounded by mystery plastic packets is as exciting and yet as reassuringly familiar as being given a Christmas stocking. This is especially true when you’re on an overnight flight, and you’re woken up with a gentle request to open your blinds, and the offer of a cup of tea and something with a sausage in it.
Obviously many airlines already charge their passengers for food. Most of us are familiar with the joke that it’s only a matter of time before some low-cost operators start charging us to go to the toilet, but our expectations are plummeting. The majority of us don’t brandish our boarding passes hoping for a brilliant meal – we just want to get to our destination safely, at the same time as our suitcases. Often, I’m not even hungry when the seatbelt sign goes off, I’m just looking for distraction and diversion. It’s not as though I need extra energy to fly, when I’m going to be almost entirely sedentary for hours on end.
Yet, food on a flight is a kind of punctuation. It’s like a cocktail hour, petits fours after pudding, or Sweden’s fika – the coffee and cake you take with your colleagues in the afternoon. It’s a ritual that helps me to fantasise that I’m somehow still connected to the golden age of aviation. I can pretend to be Don Draper on his way to LA to land the Sunkist account, even though I’m covered in crumbs and watching an old episode of Family Guy. In-flight dinners allow us to maintain the idea that there’s still something glamorous about being on a plane. I’m sure that cutting meals will save money, but for passengers it will make journeys slightly less exciting than getting a National Express coach. At least on the bus you get extra leg room and a more interesting view.