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

Mar 1, 2020

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.

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). 

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

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.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Recommended Credit
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

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

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.