Did the pandemic reveal our hidden love for airplane food?

Complaining about the quality of airline food is almost as old as commercial aviation itself, writes Will Noble in CNN. But have pandemic-related restrictions around air travel sparked nostalgia for the “much-maligned sky chow”? Noble charts the evolution of airplane food from its modest origins (picnic-like meals of sandwiches and cold chicken) to the gastronomic feasts served on 1930s luxury airships (beluga caviar on toast). Airplane food has always had its detractors, he writes—including comedians, who turned mocking in-flight dining options into a perennial trope of American stand-up comedy. But it has also always had loyal devotees, as evidenced by the number of pandemic-grounded travelers who purchased airline-branded surplus meals and snacks last year. Some airlines, such as AirAsia, are translating that brand loyalty into on-the-ground restaurants. Clearly, some travelers miss the quirks of dining at 30,000 feet altitude, writes Noble: “As Covid and climate change threaten a type of travel that’s become second nature, some of us are now secretly (or not-so-secretly) craving the very same thing we turned our noses up at in the ‘before times’.” —Patricia I. Escárcega

The Counter Stories by our editors.