Skip to content

The 5 worst first-class meals in the sky today

March 22, 2021
12 min read
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

This round-up is a continuation of our best first-class meals in the sky. But this time, we're focussing on the first-class experiences that didn't really meet our high expectations.

The lowest score on the below round-up is 19/25, which is still very commendable. To call these meals "the worst" would be doing them a disservice.

Related:

Sign up for our daily newsletter

But these first-class experiences just didn't cut it in comparison with our best five. The reason? The majority lacked a certain dish -- any guesses?

Let's find out.

For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

American Airlines

Score: 19/25

In "last" place is American Airlines, from Zach Griff's experience flying from Dallas to Hong Kong.

The service started with a choice of either pre-poured Champagne, orange juice or water and no warm nuts or hot towel were offered. A very business class start, really.

Related: What are the differences between business class and first class?

Caviar-lover Zach enjoyed his tiny caviar tart, but said he'd prefer if they had "served it right."

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

The second course of butternut and apple soup tasted great, packing lots of flavors.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Having already run out of Maine lobster for the small plate, Zach was left with a rather tasteless tomato tart, which was saved by a "tiny dollop" of rocket pesto.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Having pre-ordered 30 days before his flight, Zach was also disappointed with his well-presented yet tough and overcooked cedar-plank halibut.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

To finish, the Haagen Dazs ice cream topped with berries, hot fudge and cream was amazing. The menu included a cheese plate and a sticky toffee pudding, but they must have run out as Zach wasn't given a choice.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

There was a selection of fruit, pralines, packaged snacks, veggies and sandwiches available from around five hours into the flight. However, "none of the prepared food looked all that appetizing," added Zach.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Still hungry before bed, Zach perused the mid-flight menu and ordered a mezze platter, which reminded him of Emirates first. Now that is a compliment.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Before arriving in Hong Kong, a rushed and unsubstantial continental breakfast was the final disappointment for Zach.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

"Aside from the need to add more food options after the first meal, there was nothing bad about AA's first-class dining, yet nothing was memorable," summarised Zach. "Except the ice cream sundae."

Related: Every American Airlines premium seat ranked from best to worst?

Singapore Airlines

Score: 21/25

Singapore, Swiss and Oman all scored 21/25. So, to rank them fairly, we took their overall review scores.

That means, with an overall score of 84, Singapore Airlines slipped into the second-to-last spot with this flight from Frankfurt to New York.

In classic Singapore Airlines style, TPG's Ben Smithson was offered both Dom and Krug. Naturally, he went for a glass of each.

(Photo by Ben Smithson/The Points Guy)

Ben was given the option to choose exactly when he'd like to eat his breakfast. While he was disappointed that there was no caviar, it was the "best Sunday brunch [he] had ever had."

Related: 9 brunches worth traveling the world for

First up was a plate of freshly cut fruit.

(Photo by Ben Smithson/The Points Guy)

Followed swiftly by Bircher muesli.

(Photo by Ben Smithson/The Points Guy)

For the main was a flavourful, fresh and decadent seafood noodle soup, which was just as good as the ones you might find at hawker stalls on the ground in Singapore.

(Photo by Ben Smithson/The Points Guy)

To finish off his brunch extravaganza was a tough, grainy chocolate mousse with chili flakes.

(Photo by Ben Smithson/The Points Guy)

Washed down with an "excellent" coffee. You know you're in good hands when in-flight coffee tastes anything better than dirty water.

(Photo by Ben Smithson/The Points Guy)

A "light" meal of three courses was served around 90 minutes before landing, as Ben requested.

First up was a fresh and delicious lobster starter. Unfortunately, the shriveled-looking pretzel Ben picked out of the breadbasket "tasted about as good as it looked."

(Photo by Ben Smithson/The Points Guy)

Up next was tasty beef cheeks in a wholesome- and hearty-looking stew.

(Photo by Ben Smithson/The Points Guy)

To conclude food and beverage proceedings before landing was a rum babka and another coffee.

(Photo by Ben Smithson/The Points Guy)

Swiss

Score: 21/25

TPG's Zach Griff's hop from Zurich to Bangkok started with a glass of Grand Siècle, accompanied by rosemary nuts and a hot towel. Off to a great start, I'm sure you'll agree.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Shortly after takeoff, a trolley of starter courses rolled its way down the aisle. The Balik salmon was "absolutely perfect and tender to the touch," while the egg "mimosa" was "light and refreshing."

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Next up was a courgette soup. The tarty addition of goat's cheese blended well with the flavor.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

And in the name of reviewing, Zach also tried the niçoise salad. Save for the smoked tuna and quail eggs, it was a rather bland affair.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

The flavor profile of the lemon-crusted turbot was great, and "the accompanying sides of pea mashed potatoes and courgette flower were excellent." Zach opted for a glass of Chardonnay, Chablis Premier Cru, which "paired perfectly with the fish."

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

The duo of desserts, a creamy chocolate cake with praline ice cream and almond tart with peach and apricot sorbet, were "scrumptious." What a combo!

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

A limited continental breakfast of Bircher muesli and seasonal fruits was served before landing.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Despite everything Zach ate being "quite good," Swiss definitely lost points here for lack of caviar -- a very common theme it seems.

Oman Air

Score: 21/25

The discovery of Oman Air's refrigerated mini bar was a great start to Zach Honig's flight from London to Muscat.

(Photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy)

And a glass of Grand Siècle was served along with nuts and a warm towel. Splendid.

(Photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy)

Next up were the quintessentially Middle Eastern dates and Arabic coffee.

(Photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy)

The breakfast bread in Zach's spectacular bread bowl "could have come from a patisserie on the ground." In fact, Zach said it was "the best bread I've had on a flight."

(Photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy)
Aside from its "busy" presentation, the marinated shrimp, smoked tuna and sous-vide salmon starter tasted fresh and had decent flavor. The exception was the over-salty tuna.

(Photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy)

Following the second glass of bubbles, Zach switched it up and sampled some Bordeaux before agreeing to a glass.

(Photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy)

Then, the fresh-tasting Arabic breakfast was bean stew, labneh, olives, tabouleh, a beef kebab, cheese, mixed veggies and pita bread.

(Photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy)

As Zach was the only person in first class, he asked if he could try another breakfast option. The crew couldn't have been happier to rustle him up an otherwise-wasted portion of fried egg with hollandaise sauce -- "a fine option as well," Zach said.

(Photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy)

Because why not, Zach also tried the fruit platter, which was served with a delicious vanilla panna cotta.

(Photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy)

Zach described his Oman Air food experience as "adequate." Had he been served his beloved caviar, it might have been a different outcome.

China Southern

Score: 22/25

With a very admirable score of 22/25, China Southern's A380 flying from Guangzhou to LA earned itself the coveted spot of best of the "worst" first-class meals.

Related: Will the Airbus A380 fly again once travel resumes?

A glass of lemon water wasn't the most first-class of starts, but a tiny fruit pastry and macaron go someway to make up for a lack of Champagne.

(Photo by Javi Rodriguez/The Points Guy)

The first installment of Javi's six-course extravaganza was a smoked salmon canapé accompanied by warmed nuts. The Piper Heidsieck Champagne offered is the same served in the airline's business class.

(Photo by Javi Rodriguez/The Points Guy)

The "surprisingly fresh" salmon and "tender and flavorful" chicken roll, which Javi chose for his main course, certainly didn't disappoint.

(Photo by Javi Rodriguez/The Points Guy)

In his words, the carrot cream soup was "phenomenal." A strong word to describe soup -- must really have been something special.

(Photo by Javi Rodriguez/The Points Guy)

Javi was very pleased that he'd picked the traditional Cantonese hot pot from the choice of five main courses. It was "deliciously authentic and flavorful."

(Photo by Javi Rodriguez/The Points Guy)

In between main and dessert was a scrumptious-looking cheese plate.

(Photo by Javi Rodriguez/The Points Guy)

And after all that, Javi finished things off with a plate of fresh fruit and ice cream.

(Photo by Javi Rodriguez/The Points Guy)

The breakfast arrived at nearly 8 p.m., before arriving in LA and started with a basket of bread and pastries and even more fruit.

(Photo by Javi Rodriguez/The Points Guy)

For his breakfast main, Javi thoroughly enjoyed his Chinese noodle soup --- its top-notch flavor was the highlight of his flight.

(Photo by Javi Rodriguez/The Points Guy)

Bottom line

Would caviar be a deal-breaker for you? Personally, I'd rather have a bag of Monster Munch.

Expectations are that first class is far better than business class -- and given the price tag, rightly so.

On that note, hopefully, this guide, coupled with our best of first-class food in the sky, will help you decide which airline will be your next first-class venture.

Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

TPG featured card

Best starter travel card
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

1 - 3X points
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
1XEarn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases

Intro offer

Earn 80,000 ThankYou® points60,000 points
For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

Annual Fee

$95

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent, Good
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases
Best starter travel card
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
1XEarn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

    Earn 80,000 ThankYou® points
    60,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $95
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent, Good

Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases