Dine At An A380-Inspired Restaurant

Love to fly? Sure. What if you could have the experience of traveling first class without the hassle of security lines? We’d like that even better. But when the question comes to “do you love airplane food?” or “do you fly because of the food?” the answer is almost always “no,” unless, of course, you make a regular habit of first or business-class international travel.

But a new restaurant in China is making waves for marrying the luxury of first-class travel with a fine dining concept. The A380 restaurant is actually the second of its kind – the first is in Taipei – and is drawing regular crowds who come to be served by waitresses dressed like flight attendants in a fully recreated upper class cabin interior.

What do you think? Would this fly in the United States?

Thanks to BornRich for the tip.

American Airlines commercial from 1981 makes us sad

“Full service no matter what you pay.” That’s what flight attendant Betty Lynn Fischbach promises in this 1981 ad for American Airlines as she places a meal on the tray of an economy class passenger. Was that meal delicious? Probably not, but it was free. And a skycap opened the cab door for an arriving passenger. That’s pretty swell. Low fares? American Airlines has ’em! Oh, 1981, we miss you (except for the assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan, the walkway collapse at the Kansas City Hyatt Regency that killed 111 people, and the air traffic controllers strike).

Airplane food with a luxurious twist: Lufthansa, Ritz-Carlton team up for in-flight entrees

You’re used to fine dining in luxury hotels, but is it possible for fine dining to take place in-flight? First-class travelers are no stranger to white tablecloth service at 38,000-feet – hot meals replace boxed sandwiches and bags of peanuts; wine is served instead of the half a can of Coke you get in coach. Now, a new trend is taking place up in the air – hotels are partnering with airlines to create in-flight meals prepared by top Michelin-starred chefs that represent local flavors in top markets.

Case in point: Ritz-Carlton and Lufthansa.

The luxury hotel group and the German airline have been in partnership for over a year, but recent changes to the airplane food menu mean not only a decent meal, but an impressive marketing campaign. The unique partnership between Ritz-Carlton and Lufthansa gives guests flying in premium seats specially-created dishes by award-winning chefs from various Ritz-Carlton hotels, which in turn keeps the hotels top of mind to flyers.

Chef Bernd Schmitt of LSG Sky Chef team works directly with Ritz-Carlton chefs to create and deliver the unique in-flight meals. Denver, Laguna Nigel, New York City, Boston, and San Francisco hotels have already been presented, and now South Beach joins the mix, added a little Latin flare to the in-flight fun. The Miami in-flight menu features everything from black bean soup and queso fresco to sautéed snapper, spiced tomato “enchilado”, and pepper and tomato “sofrito” stew.The program has been so successful for domestic hotels, Ritz-Carlton tells me they are planning to introduce menus created by chef’s in international markets.

“This past July, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company expanded its relationship with Lufthansa’s Star Chefs program. Specifically, our hotel and chef in Shanghai has developed First and Business Class menus for flights to and from Germany to Shanghai, Hong Kong, Beijing, Nanjing and Guangzhou,” said Victoria Gottlieb, Director, Partnerships and Strategic Alliances, for The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, LLC. “Asia is a critical region of growth for the Ritz-Carlton so we are very happy to have such a strong presence in Lufthansa’s Asia flight network.”

The menus, which will be created by chefs from The Portman Ritz-Carlton, Shanghai, will be on board for 12-months. Lufthansa’s own sommelier, Markus Del Monego, will consult with the Ritz-Carlton chefs to create a wine list that marries the flavors of the food with the best global vintages.

What pairs well with spiced ceviche, duck confit, sherry vinaigrette; a vegetarian plate of seared watermelon, and goat cheese mousse with a Banyuls glaze and crushed pistachio nuts? That’s for the airline and hotel to figure out. In the meantime, the collaboration between Ritz-Carlton and Lufthansa leaves premium-seat flyers satisfied, and keeps the concept of good food and experience top of mind in-flight.

We want to know what you think: Would you be more inclined to visit a hotel after tasting the chef’s in-flight creations on a flight?

Why airplane food sucks–a scientific explanation

We all like to gripe about airline food, especially here at Gadling. Last year we even came up with a challenge to see if you could tell airline food from army food. (I bombed that quiz)

Now scientists have discovered a possible explanation for the pervasive blandness we experience at 35,000 feet. In a new study, a team from Unilever and the University of Manchester has discovered that background noise affects the way we taste food. Volunteers were blindfolded and given a set of earphones. They ate various sweet, salty, and crunchy foods while listening either to loud or soft white noise or silence. The volunteers were asked to rate how much they liked the foods as well as how sweet, salty, or crunchy they were.

Louder noise made the sweet and salty ratings go down, while crunchiness went up. Also, how much the subjects liked their food was reduced the more noise they heard. One researcher suggested that the brain is distracted by the noise and is therefore less focused on perceiving flavor.

So don’t blame the cheap ingredients, the mass production, or the plastic containers. . .it’s the white noise that’s making you gag!

[Photo courtesy user andreakw via Gadling’s flickr pool]

Ryanair passenger arrested over “rubber sandwich” complaint

When 52 year old Henrik Ulven ordered a “fresh made premium sandwich” on his Ryanair flight, he fully expected to receive just that. Instead, he described the food as inedible and “tasting like rubber” – so asked a flight attendant for something different.

According to Ulven, his request did not go down too well, and the flight attendant told him that if he didn’t stop complaining, she’d report him to the authorities.

Ulven thought she was kidding, but upon landing at Norway’s Rygge airport, local police boarded the plane and escorted him off. According to the police, he had given the cabin crew “a mouthful.”

So there you have it – if you fly Ryanair, you’ll eat what you are given, keep your mouth shut and refrain from complaining. Obviously there are always two sides to a story, but to have one of your customers arrested because he did not approve of the quality of your food takes “low cost carrier” to a whole new level.

[Image from: Corbis]