The Houston Chronicle, umm, chronicles Continental’s push to improve its premium cabin catering. They spoke to me about the efforts, and while I caveated that I’m not a frequent Continental flyer,
Cooking on a plane is complicated. There’s the equipment factor, the flight attendant factor, the 35,000 feet factor. Not all dishes stand up (cf. Taste on a Plane). So extensive testing is a must, investment in physical equipment and not just the food itself is a must, and exensive flight attendant training is a must.
When Asiana had on onboard sushi chef making rolled to order sushi in first class on their Los Angeles route a couple of years ago, that was both a gimmick worth marketing buzz and a real signal of quality. Asiana does some of the best meal preparation in the sky, in my experience (any current complaints about cutbacks not withstanding, I still consider them excellent). That even helps make up for first class seats that while ‘new’ are a generation behind many of their competitors’.
Continental isn’t Asiana. But a decision to invest in soft product is a good step, and a hopeful indication that the world economy may be bringing back premium class travel.