Airline food has gotten a bad rap for just about as long as its been around and been a service that airlines have started providing to their passengers. Comedians in the hundreds have used the hysterically bad quality of airline food as the origin for many of their jokes and bits, to the point that it just isn't funny anymore.
Since food started being served on airlines, it has increased in quality drastically, especially for those in first class or business class. It's not hard to find a decent quality meal, though it is still overpriced (as are most things on airlines, especially domestic flights). Yet still, there is a stunning lack of quality for the far majority of airlines that provide food on their flights. Why is that?
A lot of it has to do with the fact that there really isn't a way to have any kind of kitchen on an airplane. This is for safety reasons as well as logistical reasons. There just isn't a lot of space on an aircraft for that kind of amenity. So, things are left to the trusty old microwave, a device that isn't known for providing high-quality food. At best we're looking at TV dinner level quality.
While the science of it has developed over the years, food is often woefully lacking in the taste, quality, and value department, to the point that it really just beggars belief. Let's take a look at 20 photos of airplane food we just can't believe these airlines served.
20 Burger Between Brussels-Helsinki
If an airline at least puts some effort into making their food worth the price, or really any kind of effort into it at all, it's usually something that most people can find palatable and not feel the need to complain about.
But, when an airline serves this, it's clear that not only are they not trying very hard, they are also insulting their passengers. This "sandwich" is really bad, served on a Finn-Air flight between Brussels and Helsinki. It deserves to go in the trash.
19 Beware The Koryo Burger
The Koryo Burger is a truly, legendarily, infamously bad burger served by Air Koryo on their flights. It's said to be one of the worst tasting foods on the planet and avoided like the plague by any and all who take this flight regularly.
The only time it's served is likely only when an unsuspecting passenger orders it, not knowing the horrifying taste they will soon have to subject themselves to as soon as they take even one bite. It may be that this burger has never been completely finished. How could you?
18 Couldn't Pay Me To Eat It
This "croissant sandwich" is clearly as about lackluster and sad as any kind of sandwich could ever get, and that's even for airline food. There's no way that you could ever get me to eat this sad excuse for food, even if you offered to pay me to eat it.
The ham slice is way too small, that pre-wrapped, pre-frozen, recently microwaved egg patty is just as about as disgusting as it can get. But it's all okay though, right, because we threw a piece of lettuce in and a yellow tomato. Those two things fix everything.
17 Don't Tell Me That's Supposed To Be A Salad
What is that entree? It's the million dollar question, really. Maybe it's some cheese enchiladas, or maybe it's some kind of savory crepe. Perhaps it's some incarnation of lasagna or a cannoli. It is anyone's guess, and I don't think anyone who's guessing actually wants to find out, or taste it.
And don't tell me that's supposed to be a salad. It's four veggies arrayed together with a single-use package of what is likely not very good dressing. The roll is pretty standard, but that doesn't mean that it's good.
16 Even Though It's Kosher...
Kosher is a pretty great thing, it's hard to say that there's anything bad about it. But, all bets are off the table when it comes to airline food. It could be the greatest food ever invented, unanimously loved by all of mankind on the surface of the planet, but as soon as it gets airborne, translated into an airline incarnation, things go downhill.
They go downhill fast, too, it would be a bad meal, it's just a fact. This Kosher breakfast is really sad looking, too, and even though it's Kosher, it's still airline food, and clearly is quite bad.
15 Fake Lobster For Sure
Buying a lobster roll on an airplane is probably one of the most masochistic things that anyone can do to themselves. It's nothing more than a frozen roll, that's been frozen for an unknown amount of time, and pulled out and microwaved then served.
More than that, it likely doesn't have anything even close to lobster inside, it's likely a fake flavored lobster mystery meat that doesn't have any real lobster in it. Sounds tasty and wholesome to me, sign me up, I'll take ten. Or not, I'll actually pass, and if someone could never make one again that would be great.
14 Cucumbers & Blue Cheese
It's a little worrisome as to just what this is, and why it was served on an airline, or why someone ordered it. Hopefully, it was complimentary and someone didn't waste their money on it. Blue cheese and pickled cucumbers. Yum, sounds pretty delicious to me.
Or not, actually, and this is a pretty great example of why airline food is so bad, because not only are they limited in what they can serve, but it's often clear that the airline really doesn't care at all, and they don't bother even thinking about trying.
13 How About No To Cathay Pacific Food
Cathay Pacific services a lot of passengers every day, flying to and from, across this globe. And while they may have flying down pat, they clearly don't have their amenities down very well at all. In fact, this borders on hazardous.
How about no to this food, as everything has been thrown in a warmer, sealed up and thawed from a deep freeze, then brought before you, as if someone would even dare expect you to eat something this truly bad looking.
12 It Looks Really Bad At PIA
This meal is perhaps one of the most disturbing on the list because it doesn't require any kind of processing before it's thrown carelessly in front of you as if you were cattle and they were just expecting you to eat whatever they give you.
It can't taste good, it can't be good for you, and it seems like it'd make you sick. A wrapped and sad sandwich sans crust, a hunk of brownie, and a giant tray for just one, yes count it one, ketchup packet. Why it needs a tray is a mystery, probably to fool you into thinking you're getting more than a slap in the culinary face.
11 Just Bad News From French XL Airways
France is often known for their culinary mastery, having had a leading influence on the cuisine and cooking techniques of chefs around the entire world. If it weren't for the French advancements in all things food related, our food would likely be drastically different.
But, again, the rules don't apply once that plane takes off. Things become a bonanza that amalgamates into a culinary horror show, with food that just doesn't taste right, is an offense to the senses and everyone's sensibilities. I'll pass, French XL Airways, but only because it'll make me twice as hungry for French cuisine once I land.
10 Knowing What's Actually Inside Might Be A Bad Idea
The fruit salad in the picture looks passable as a type of food that's suitable for human consumption, but the rest of it looks a little bit worrying. There's a strange box behind the fruit that looks like it could either be a gift box of potpourri, or a hotel bar of soap.
And then there's the entree, always the scariest part. This one, from United Airlines, is a poorly wrapped burrito that is, naturally, very small also. Wrapped up, it could be easy to imagine whatever you want to be inside, but knowing what's actually inside might be a bad idea.
9 Microwave Dinner On Singapore Airlines
If there ever was a main entree that attempted to look like fine modern dining this one tries about just as hard as any other. But, there's one crippling handicap that keeps it from ever being anything close to a top-notch culinary experience.
That is, of course, the fact that it was served on an airplane. When food comes from an airborne plane, it's so separated from where it was actually prepared that there's no way it measures up. Pair that with the need to cut overhead on the part of Singapore Airlines, and this microwave entree launches itself deep into sub-par.
8 Maybe Pass On Georgian Airway's Food
When everything that you're served for your meal is individually wrapped up in single-use trash that pollutes the Earth, it's hard to be able to enjoy it, but it's also a huge red flag as to just how bad it's going to taste, and how bad the quality really is.
Individually wrapped to steam heat or microwave each dish, these items served for a meal on a Georgian Airways flight are not anything remotely resembling fresh, and the taste is probably only a step down from that.
7 Not A Meal, Just Some Wrapped Veggies
For anyone with diet restrictions, getting edible airline food is often an extreme difficulty, as they cannot accommodate the preference of everyone, that's just simple logistics. Beyond just edible, getting food that tastes good or is even suitable as a meal is a whole other story.
This meal, for example, is a beautiful gluten-free meal. Yeah right. It's not a meal, just a sad single-use tray of shrink-wrapped veggies. Not only is that just pointless, but it's also offensive to the person. Why would they want to eat that?
6 On Route To Lebanon, Not As Advertised
Having pictures of your food as an airline is a tricky thing, it's a bit of tightrope, and it's easy to fall off. The fact is that no matter how hard you try, airline food will always in some kind of way be sub-par, especially for culinary items that involve means of cooking or preparing beyond what's possible on an airplane while it's hurtling through the atmosphere.
On this flight to Lebanon, it's clear that this pizza is a far cry from the photo that advertises it. No slices of tomatoes, just chunks of cherry tomatoes, no basil and lumpy mozzarella.
5 Broccoli & Gravy
This meal makes me personally shudder. The mashed potatoes are probably okay, and maybe even tasty, but the rest is what really looks like the kind of thing no one should ever be subjected to eat and digest. Especially when you understand that how it was prepared was with a steamer or microwave.
The chicken must be powdery and dry, seasoned terribly, and overall just bad. The gravy can't taste good and probably doesn't help with the intensely dry chicken lump. The broccoli only makes things worse, as it must be slimy, mushy, and bland. No thanks, we'll pass.
4 Quick No On British Airways
Well, it's clear that this is supposed to be a traditional British breakfast, with beans tomatoes, bacon, and the works. It's served without toast for gluten-free Mrs. D, but let's be honest that toast, nor anything, will be helping this meal taste any better.
Warmed up en masse, this meal was thrown onto a plate-like slop and thrown in front of the passengers. It's watery, grey, overcooked, not even close to fresh. The bacon must be rubbery, the tomato must be awful, the beans bland, everything way too watery and old.
3 Robbed Of A Real Meal, Still Better Than The Alternative
All Nippon Airways, in Japan, doesn't seem like they do too much to accommodate their customers who have dietary restrictions. Not much at all, actually, perhaps the very minimum thing possible. All it takes is a sticker on a banana and voila, a meal.
Or not, because a napkin and banana labeled gluten-free is not a gluten-free meal because it's not a meal at all. This customer was unfortunately robbed of a real meal, but a banana is for sure better than the airline food alternative.
2 Sichuan Airlines "Breakfast"
This little egg square is not, in fact, a sick science experiment of some kind, or an incarnation of a not at all funny joke. Nor is it an unfinished meal that needs to be garnished and served with a side for it to leave the kitchen.
Nope, in fact, it is a full breakfast, according to Sichuan Airlines, at least. While it is at least filled with some other different ingredients, veggies, meat, et cetera, it's still lacking, well, a lot. It's hard to call a microwaved lump of stuffed egg a satisfactory breakfast.
1 Bad Meal From Interjet
As an airline, making and providing sandwiches is a perfectly acceptable way to provide a satisfying and well-balanced meal for your customers and passengers. They are easy to make, affordable, not messy, don't require any heating, and it's easy to provide several options.
Simple, right? But remember our rule about airline food, it's that as soon as the 'craft leaves the air, all bets are off and the nightmares begin. Like this sandwich. What reason is there for it to be this bad? Interjet as an airline has provided to their customers perhaps the worst and laziest sandwich ever made.
Sources: Trip Advisor, Fodors & In-Flight Feed