Our annual airline survey captures the perennial disappointment of passengers when they peel back the foil on their in-flight food.
Whether it’s an economy ticket or business class, UK-based or international, even flag carriers have been found to serve below par cuisine.
From chicken ‘slop’ to cake that could double as a ‘building brick’, Which? Travel readers reveal just how unappetising airline meals can be.
Flyers have been photographing and sharing some of the worst food they’ve been served at 35,000ft.
Want to avoid packing your own sandwiches? See the five long-haul carriers rated worst for food.
Ryanair passenger Billy Shearer made the unfortunate mistake of ordering the Irish breakfast for a morning flight.
The website describes it as ‘the perfect option to fill up and start your day with’.
The unhappy diner begged to differ when he was served ‘a monstrosity’ of soggy potato waffle, shrivelled button mushrooms and congealed white pudding.
Not only was Ryanair the worst performing airline in our survey overall, it was also the only carrier to receive a terrible one-star rating for its food.
Scrimping on price doesn’t have to mean a poor experience. See the no-frills carriers to book with and to avoid in best and worst budget airlines.
Another early morning crime was this rather anaemic offering from Indian carrier SpiceJet.
Nick Avery told us: ‘Apparently that is omelette, sausages and hash brown. It tasted as good as it looked.’
And proving that eggs are exceptionally hard to pull off at 35,000 feet is this full English courtesy of British Airways.
A Norwegian airlines passenger was dismayed to find her chicken and mash swimming in grease, a meal she described as ‘slop’.
The turkey ham and Swiss cheese ‘baguette’ was equally underwhelming – with scant filling and only a vague attempt to butter the bread.
Norwegian mustered only two out of five stars for the quality of its food and drink in our recent survey.
Want to know how your favourite airline performed? See the full results of our best and worst airlines.
Premium prices – terrible food
But poor food isn’t only a problem for economy passengers.
Take David Ball who flew business class with BA from London Gatwick to Mauritius.
Rather than enjoy a more luxurious experience on-board, he was presented with this chicken Biriyani.
He told us: ‘What you see in the picture is a chunk of dry chicken, a piece of dead, burnt cauliflower, a spoonful of gunk and overcooked rice. Awful.’
His return journey in World Traveller Plus (premium economy) was no better when he was served this ‘so-called omelette’.
David added: ‘It tasted exactly as it appears in the photo – disgusting.’
Another BA premium economy flyer was just as disappointed with his upgraded meal.
He described his beef with roasted vegetables and mashed potato as ‘overcooked and burnt on the edges’.
Similarly, Mike Bates was told the seared steak and buttered chicken curry had run out on his BA premium economy flight to Barbados. Only one option was left by the time he was served – cheese pasta.
He said: ‘It was cold, and the cheese had coagulated. I couldn’t eat any more after the first mouthful.’
Experiences like these illustrate why even BA’s premium economy service scored a measly two stars for the quality of its food and drink.
‘Building brick’ cake
Etihad may have clinched a slightly more palatable three stars for its food, but Richard Cooney was unimpressed with the ‘poor quality and tasteless’ offering on his flight from Bangkok to Abu Dhabi last March.
He described the sweetcorn, pea and rice starter as ‘cold with no seasoning’ while the cake was so ‘dry’ and ‘tough’ it resembled a ‘building brick’.
Richard added: ‘We have now decided to part company with Etihad after our most recent experiences with the food.’
Special meal disasters
Spare a through for those with special dietary requirements who can find their in-flight options even more limited.
Yannis Psomadakis was unimpressed with BA’s low lactose cod with spinach and pulses.
He told us: ‘The taste of dry cod and steamed spinach was not much to write home about. I had to pick the peppers and wrap the spinach at every bite to make it “swallowable”.’