TPG readers reveal the best meals they’ve ever had in economy

Mar 1, 2020

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TPG Lounge member Kevin M. recently posed this question to the rest of the group: “For those of us who sit in economy, what has been the tastiest meal or meal box you’ve purchased or been served?” Here’s a look at some of our favorite answers. (Some responses have been lightly edited for style and clarity). 

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Best meals on domestic flights

Several TPG Lounge readers described the best snacks and meals they’ve encountered in economy on domestic flights, whether it was memorable mezze samplers on United or epic cheese boxes on JetBlue and Alaska Airlines.

“I really enjoyed the mezze sampler box United had with quinoa salad, falafel, pita, and hummus. It was only $7.50 if you pay with the United Explorer Card, and was actually a filling meal for a 3.5-hour flight.” — Eric R.

“I once had a Kosher meal on United Airlines with a bagel and cream cheese, smoked salmon and some other stuff. I used to pick different meals to try them out.” — Valerie R.S.

JetBlue has an excellent snack box with all kinds of cheese, crackers, fruit, and spreads. I love it, and as a Mosaic, it’s only like $3!” — Gloria L.

“The Beecher’s Flagship cheese on Alaska Airlines is very good. Plus, at the airport in Seattle (SEA), there’s an outlet where you can purchase it.” — Eva C.

JetBlue has an awesome ham and Swiss on a croissant. I was very surprised. I wasn’t expecting much for the cost but it completely beat an airport sandwich!” — Chris L.

Related: This cheese plate influencer flies JetBlue economy better than you

Best meals on international flights

Other TPG Lounge members mentioned favorite Korean dishes on flights to and from Seoul, while others sang the praises of coach cuisine on Qantas, Emirates, Delta, ANA, Virgin Atlantic, AsiaAir, United and Singapore Airlines.

“Flights between Seoul (ICN) and Dallas (DFW) have always served my family well for the last 10 years. It’s either a beef or chicken Korean dish or pasta with a bread roll and salad for the main meal and a decent sized omelet or sandwich for the snack or breakfast.” — Kelley K.J.E.

“This was a few years ago, but I was totally blown away by a Qantas connection from Sydney to Cairns in economy. First, it was a wide-body jet, which was not expected for a three-hour flight. Then, in economy, they served a flavorful hot curry dish with an ice cream sundae.” — Russell M.

“Coconut chicken dinner on Delta from Barcelona (BCN) to New York-JFK.” — Jeffrey U.

“ANA from San Francisco (SFO) to Tokyo (NRT). Best food ever, plus Haagen Dazs for dessert after each meal and constant tea service throughout the flight.” — Lillian C.M.

Virgin Atlantic does really good curries and now serves scones with clotted cream on the London (LHR) to New York-JFK route.” — Kate D.

“Last summer, I was in coach for a two-hour mid-afternoon flight from Bangkok to Singapore on Singapore Airlines. We had a choice of a fish, beef or vegetarian dish, along with wine, beer and liquor, all complimentary. They even had a toy for our five-year-old. It was by far the best coach service I’ve ever experienced.” — Brett C.W.

“I had a fantastic chicken dish with rice and hollandaise sauce on Delta from Amsterdam to Minneapolis. They also had salted caramel chocolate ice cream for dessert. So good!” — Tatiana L.

“Dim Sum on Hong Kong Airlines on a flight from Hong Kong (HKG) to Los Angeles (LAX), RIP. And lamb steak on Emirates on a flight from San Francisco (SFO) to Dubai (DXB).” — Jake G.

“I flew Emirates in economy from New York (JFK) to Dubai (DXB) and it was hands down the best airplane food I’ve ever had, essentially a spread of restaurant-quality food that was piping hot. The next best would be in economy on Singapore Airlines when I flew from Los Angeles (LAX) to Seoul (ICN). They had a wonderful selection of great wines to pair with the food.” — Heather U.

Related: The most memorable meals we’ve eaten on planes this year

Many TPG Lounge members said they'd enjoyed economy meals on Emirates. (Photo by Julian Mark Kheel / The Points Guy)
Many TPG Lounge members said they’d enjoyed economy meals on Emirates. (Photo by Julian Mark Kheel/The Points Guy.)

“Denver (DEN) to Panama City (PTY) with a tasty chicken and cheese frittata on flatbread for breakfast on United. From their Latin American menu, and I used my card for a discount.” — Nadine S.

“Japan Airlines was great in economy, but honestly I was surprised with the food on American Airlines coming home from Hong Kong on Tuesday. They fed us three times, including an option for dim sum, which my son chose for breakfast. They also had a surprisingly yummy teriyaki chicken pie that was almost like a hot pocket.” — Kirsten D.R.

Korean Air’s bibimbap out of ICN. It’s actually made by a local restaurant in Seoul. So good.” — Brack T.

AirAsia has killer meals for purchase. Loved the black pepper beef!” — David L.

“I’ve flown 22 legs with Emirates and not had one bad meal. Ever. I remember on one trip the butter was a little too chilled and I had to wait a few minutes before I could spread it on my bread roll. That’s Emirates economy.” — Mark S.

“Bibimbap when flying Korean Air from PEK (Beijing) to GMP (Seoul’s Gimpo Airport) and back two days later, we got the same. The little tube of gochujang was key — if I could buy them and keep them in my purse like hot sauce packets, I would! It had rice, beef, bean sprouts, mushrooms, kimchi and I’m sure a lot more. Smush it together with the gochujang and devour!” — Erica C.L.

Singapore Airlines had stir-fried seafood vermicelli, which I wasn’t expecting to be that comforting, along with complimentary beer, wine and cocktails. I had mine with a Bloody Mary and the crew intuitively ensured that I always had a drink in my hand.” — CY G.

“I had some really good beef and noodles on my 3:50 flight from Guam (GUM) to Manila (MNL) on United. It was so good I asked for seconds after the crew had gone through the cabin.” — Matthew P.

Related: 11 tips for surviving a long-haul flight in economy

Featured photo by RUBEN RAMOS/Getty Images.

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