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Air France Offers New Business Class Menu

Air France Offers New Business Class Menu

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The new menu was launched in October and features items designed by Thibaut Ruggeri, winner of the Bocuse d’Or 2013

One of Thibaut Ruggeri's dishes: Hake with honeyed carrots and verjuice.

Travelers in Air France’s business class can now enjoy a whole new menu designed by Bocuse d’Or winner Thibaut Ruggeri. Ruggeri, who has worked with several renowned chefs including Michel Guérard at Prés d’Eugénie, Georges Blanc at the Splendid, and Michel Kayser at the Alexandre, has designed a menu of five dishes exclusive to Air France’s long-haul flights. The menu combines “purity and eccentricity to various different presentations to create recipes that highlight his personality and that illustrate his motto in the kitchen: Less is more!” according to a press release.

A dish designed by Ruggeri will be one of the four main dishes on the menu, available on flights departing from Paris. The menu selection will be renewed twice a month for the pleasure of frequent travelers. Some sample dishes by Ruggeri include duck confit with snow peas and almonds, Hake with honeyed carrots and verjuice, and duckling with chestnuts and red currants.

The new dishes will be served for a period of six months, starting October 1, after which Air France will assign a new renowned chef to design menu items for the business class. This ongoing project of bringing out top-class food to its customers was launched by Air France in December 2011, when the airline started including one dish from a renowned French chef – including Joël Robuchon, Guy Martin and Michel Roth – on their business class menu.

With flawless service, a multi-award winning wine cellar and a five star dining menu designed by Neil Perry AM, Creative Director, Food, Beverage and Service – we've set a new benchmark for dining in First.

Menus are designed around seasonality and local Artisan producers drawing from the rich cultural diversity of the globe. Commencing with Champagne, the First experience is tailored to your desires from hand selected dishes to an extensive tasting menu at any time throughout your flight.

The Qantas Rockpool Sommeliers are proud to present an exceptional selection of wine from boutique producers to iconic brands from across Australia, New Zealand and Champagne. To assist onboard are our Sommeliers in the Sky who are passionate individuals who have been trained in all aspects of wine service.

With a multi award-winning cellar selection, seasonal menus, stylish tableware designed by David Caon and personalised service intended to enhance your chosen infight experience.

Live Updates

Once all the food is aboard, airlines face another hurdle: planes don’t have full kitchens. For safety, open-flame grills and ovens aren’t allowed on commercial aircraft. Flight attendants can’t touch food the way a restaurant chef might in order to prepare a dish. Galley space is cramped, and there’s little time to get creative with presentation.

So attendants must contend with convection ovens that blow hot, dry air over the food. Newer planes have steam ovens, which are better because they help keep food moist. Either way, meals can only be reheated, not cooked, on board.

“Getting any food to taste good on a plane is an elusive goal,” says Steve Gundrum, who runs a company that develops new products for the food industry.

STILL, there was a time not so long ago when airline food could seem very special. Mr. Gundrum recalls, for example, that he had his best airline meal aboard a British Airways Concorde 25 years ago. It was grouse cooked in a wine reduction, accompanied by little roasted potatoes.

Today, airlines want to recreate some of those glory days in their upper-class cabins, with American carriers — trying to bounce back from years of financial cutbacks — aiming to catch up with foreign rivals’ international service.

And some of those foreign carriers have been raising the stakes. The menu at Air France, for instance, includes Basque shrimp and turmeric-scented pasta with lemon grass. The dishes were created by the chef Joël Robuchon, who has collected a total of 27 Michelin stars in his career. The airline’s roster of chefs also includes Guy Martin, the chef at le Grand Véfour, and Jacques Le Divellec, who runs a restaurant that bears his name in Paris.

Air France isn’t alone in reaching out to celebrity chefs. Lufthansa teams with chefs from the luxury hotel chain Mandarin Oriental to prepare meals for its flights between the United States and Germany. Singapore Airlines, meanwhile, has published a book of in-flight recipes from 10 chefs, including Mr. Ramsay. Its business- and first-class passengers can pick their meals from an online menu 24 hours before takeoff. The airline offers a braised soy-flavored duck with yam rice — a specialty from Singapore — or a seafood thermidor with buttered asparagus, slow-roasted vine-ripened tomatoes and saffron rice.

Korean Air owns a farm where it raises beef and organic grains and vegetables for its in-flight meals, including bibimbap, a Korean classic of rice, sautéed vegetables and chili paste that the airline serves in coach. The farm has more than 1,600 head of cattle and more than 5,000 chickens destined for meals in first class.

And the catering business of Emirates Airlines, in Dubai, handles 90,000 meals a day and bakes its own bread, crumble cake and pecan pie. It also prepares nearly 130 different kinds of menus daily. It offers Japanese and Italian dishes, for instance, and has 12 regional Indian cuisines. Eighteen workers spend their days just making elaborate flower designs out of fruit.

American carriers, while elevating their international food service, have generally shunned such refinements on domestic flights. But Peter Wilander, managing director of onboard services at Delta, wants to bring some glamour back.

Last year, Delta hired Michael Chiarello, a celebrity chef from Napa Valley, to come up with new menus for business-class passengers flying on transcontinental routes — New York to Los Angeles and New York to San Francisco. It was not the first time that Delta had worked with a renowned chef. The airline has served meals created by Michelle Bernstein, a Miami chef, since 2006 in its international business class.

“Our chefs are like portrait painters,” Mr. Wilander says. “They can get pretty creative. But we need to translate that into painting by numbers.” That process began last May, when Mr. Chiarello met with executives and catering chefs from Delta at a boxy industrial kitchen on the edge of the San Francisco airport to demonstrate some of his recipes. Among the dozens of dishes he tried were an artichoke and white-bean spread, short ribs with polenta, and a small lasagna of eggplant and goat cheese.

Air France La Premiere Summary

I can’t even begin to sum up how memorable the whole journey was from New York to Johannesburg via Paris. Not only does Air France have one of the world’s best first class products, but on both flights we had the cabin all to ourselves.

What an incredible way to fly. What made this flight extra special was the great lengths the crew went to keep our destination a secret from my dad, which I didn’t talk too much about in this post, but which you can read more about here.

These were two flights none of us will even forget, and this was only the start to one incredible adventure.


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June 1st, 2012

I will be recommending your company without a doubt.

April 16th, 2012

No complaints. Only praises. Very efficient and professional. Courteous on the phone. Will certainly use sky club again.

May 26th, 2012

First class service and much appreciated patience.

Très Chic: Air France’s Long-Haul 777 Business Class

What’s a French spin on long-haul flying look like? Until a few months ago I had no idea. I’d never flown Air France, their recently-retired millennial spinoff airline Joon, or a French leisure carrier like French Bee or Corsair. For my first flight on a French carrier I opted for the classic, and scored a nice deal with miles on Air France in business class from Sao Paulo to Paris. It would be on a Boeing 777-200ER, a plane well equipped to handle a long-haul flight like mine. The triple-seven isn’t the largest plane in Air France’s fleet (the A380 is) and newer dual-engine long-haul planes like the 787 and A350 get more love and attention nowadays. But Air France has a long proud history with the 777 — they were the launch customer for the 777-300ER — and the 777 is the backbone of the airline’s long-haul fleet.

In terms of the onboard experience, Air France embraces the stereotype of French style and service. So as I geared up for my flight, I was looking to see if cabin design, dining, and service would do the airline’s home country justice. Did they? Read on to find out!

Bienvenue to G.R.U.

Once I arrived at Sao Paulo International (code: GRU) check-in was zippy via the Sky Priority lane.

There’s an amazing lineup of lounges at Sao Paulo International. While Air France business class passengers are directed to a contract lounge, I dropped by the Star Alliance lounge instead. It accepts Priority Pass and I heard it was one of the better watering holes at the airport.

It was spacious and well maintained. No view of the ramp, though.

Sao Paulo is a huge commercial hub — big enough to support two Air France flights many days. I was on the second service of the day, operated by a 777-200ER. Unfortunately my flight’s gate didn’t allow me a view of my aircraft. Here’s a look at the 777-300ER that operated the first flight.


Boarding was smooth and efficient, and soon enough I was in my 777’s business class cabin. Air France has a few different business class seat designs flying on its long-haul fleet. The reverse-herringbone seat on its 787s and some (but not all) its 777s and A330s is one of the better ones. Every seat has direct access to the aisle and goes fully flat.

The cabin finishes are mostly a clean white, with navy blue seat upholstery and vibrant red accents in the storage lockers. The spacious footrests become part of bed when the seat goes fully flat.

The vibe is right on the borderline between bright and boring.

Seats along the window are better for solo flyers, while those in the center section are a bit better for traveling twosomes.

There was a coat hanger waiting for me at my seat (classy), along with the usual pillow, blanket, amenity kit, and headphones.

The seat-side locker was roomy. Next to it were a reading light and the remote control for the entertainment system.

The 777 was the first large jetliner to be designed fully on a computer. But how time flies! Today in 2020 a lot of 777s are showing their age, and mine on this flight wasn’t an exception. The floor panel below the footrest kept flapping open, and my tray table was so slanted that my glass trying to slide off of it.

Still, the seat’s spaciousness compensated for those drawbacks. I was pretty comfy as I settled in for my welcome glass of the bubbly stuff.

The safety video — with a bunch of well-dressed petite French models talking about being “chic” — was the most stereotypically French thing I’ve ever seen.

Takeoff was just after sunset, so there wasn’t much of a view to enjoy beyond the 777’s enormous engines.

Haute cuisine, here we go!

As we leveled off at cruise altitude the flight attendants got the meal service show started with a ham-melon-mint amuse-bouche. It was a little weird that the mixed nuts were boxed and bagged.

Here’s a look at the menu, wine list, and drink list.

Air France does offer an express dining option for flyers who want to maximize sleep. But this flight was a long one, and I had plenty of time to enjoy the full service. The pair of starters — a mini-Caprese salad and smoked salmon — were simple but tasty, and really well presented.

The shrimp fricassee, Pirarucu fish, and squid curry was a bit less photogenic but was bursting with flavor.

The flight attendants were a little chilly in the personality department, but in general they were professional and efficient. For some reason they weren’t offering the cheese selection that was on the menu, so I overcompensated on the rest of the desserts.

All in all it was a strong showing for a business class meal. For the rest of the flight you could request drinks, fruit, or a mushroom empanada from the flight attendants, but they also set up a self-service drink station.

Settling in for the long haul

After the meal service I was in the mood for some sleep. Air France’s newer business class cabins are designed around 𔄛F” goals: fully-flat, full access, and full privacy. In fully-flat mode the seat was one of the wider beds I’ve enjoyed the skies. I was able to sleep on my side with my knees bent, which isn’t always possible in other airlines’ business class seats.

No pajamas, but at least the bedding was super soft. After I woke up I took a look at the inflight entertainment system. The interface was sleek and even let you save a list of favorites as you browsed the selection.

The noise-canceling headphones were about average for business class.

With 90 minutes left in the flight, the crew turned on the cabin lights and started breakfast. The mozzarella omelet was solid, though the meal was forgettable.

I set up to grab some videos of the descent into Charles De Gaulle, which was under thick cloud cover.

We passed a few interesting planes on the way to the gate, like this Air France A380. The airline’s entire fleet of the double-decker superjumbo will be retired in the next couple of years.

A rare find for a U.S.-based flyer like me: an Air Austral 777! The airline is based on the island of Réunion in the Indian Ocean, a major tourist destination for the French.

Le verdict?

Air France’s long-haul business class isn’t particularly avant-garde. But it’s still a well-rounded product with flashes of fun French style. The seat on my 777 was spacious and well designed. I was wine-and-dined as well as I could have hoped for in business class. The flight attendants did their job with poise. The 777 I flew was showing its age, and over the coming years parts of Air France’s 777 fleet will be phased out in favor of newer planes like Airbus A350s.

One warning: Air France has a few different business class seat products flying. Their A350s have a different seat than the one I flew, but it still goes fully-flat and offers universal direct aisle access. The airline’s A380s and some 777s, on the other hand, carry an ancient business class seat design. My connecting flight from Paris was on an A380, and compared with my 777 flight the experience was … very different. More to come on that later.

Au revoir for now. Thanks for joining in on the journey! Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

11 Hacks to Get a Flight Upgrade

Flying doesn’t have to be a stressful, uncomfortable ride. In fact, it’s relatively easy to travel like a boss. And, no, it doesn’t require outright purchasing a first-class ticket.

From flying at the right time to simply being friendly to the employees at the gate, travel experts spill their flight upgrade secrets.

1. When a flight is oversold, volunteer to get bumped

Airlines are desperate for volunteers when a flight gets oversold, so why not be one of them?

Scott Keyes, founder of Scott’s Cheap Flights, says airlines will offer hundreds and even thousands of dollars in travel vouchers when a flight is overbooked. “The secret is that they can also offer other perks, including food vouchers, lounge passes and, yes, even seats in business or first class on your new flight.”

Nick Brennan, founder and CEO of My UK Sim Card, agrees and suggests politely asking at check-in if the flight is overbooked and saying you’d be willing to take another flight if the compensation is reasonable. “Everyone’s seen the dramas in the news of people being denied boarding because of overbooked flights, and the airlines just can’t afford more bad publicity. Gate agents are now empowered to offer big incentives to passengers willing to take another flight.” If you’re offered the chance to take another flight, “politely negotiate the terms on which you will do this, which should include an upgrade to the premium cabin in addition to cash money.”

2. Use miles or credit card rewards

If you have a flight booked, you can use your miles to upgrade to a better seat on the plane &mdash especially if you booked with cash, Keyes says. “[It] can be a great way to use some of those extra miles you’ve got lying around, especially if you don’t have other trips coming up,” he says.

The first step to increasing your points and miles travel game? Create frequent flyer accounts for all the major U.S. carriers, associate editor at The Points Guy Emily McNutt says. “They&rsquore free to create and generally only require simple personal information,” she says. “That way, the next time you fly, you&rsquoll be able to input that frequent flyer number in order to earn those valuable points and miles on your next flight.”

Plus, according to Natasha Rachel Smith, travel expert at TopCashback, a majority of airlines are part of the three major alliance groups: Oneworld, Star Alliance or SkyTeam. You can combine airline miles toward one big upgrade as long as the airlines are part of the same family.

3. Double-check the price

Airlines make mistakes too &mdash and you should take advantage of it.

“Sometimes the price of premium economy or even business rivals that of regular economy,” Keyes says. For instance, “in late December 2017, Delta accidentally sold first-class tickets to Canada for the exact same price as economy, under $200 on dozens of routes.”

4. Bid on one

That’s right, you can bid on an upgrade, and it’s a lot like bidding on eBay.

“You might receive an email prior to your departure date offering you the ability to place an offer to upgrade to a premium cabin,” Brennan says. “Remember, you are bidding against others. Don’t go crazy and pay a ridiculous amount just to secure an upgrade.”

“Can’t hurt to put in a lowball bid,” Keyes adds. “[It’s] very possible your offer will end up getting accepted.”

5. Take the flights less traveled

This should sound familiar to frequent flyers: Avoid flights business travelers are more likely to take. Flying on low-traffic days &mdash Tuesday through Thursday &mdash and avoiding prime times &mdash 6 to 10 a.m. and 4 to 7 p.m. &mdash give you a better chance at moving up if the premium seats aren’t taken.

Mi Mi Chloe Park, media relations manager for Atout France, the French Government Tourism Board, also suggests flying into smaller airports to your final destination. “For example, when flying from New York to Paris, I always choose to fly into Orly rather than Charles de Gaulle,” Park says. “This can boost your chances of getting an upgrade since you are flying into a less popular airport.”

6. Check in early &mdash & travel alone

“If you have ample time before your flight, you can increase your chances of an upgrade by talking to a desk associate rather than checking in via kiosk or online,” Park says. “Be friendly with the airline employee issuing your ticket and ask about upgrade options. Depending on availability, a certain number of discretionary operational upgrades are handed out per flight.”

Micki Kosman, travel blogger with independent travel blog The Barefoot Nomad, adds that it works best if you’re traveling alone. “It’s hard to upgrade a couple and almost impossible to upgrade a family of three or more.”

More: Woman Uses Travel Secret to Fund Over 16 Vacations for Almost Nothing

7. Avoid OTAs

Avoid booking through online travel agencies like Orbitz, Expedia and Priceline. Book directly through the airline’s website and buy a full-fare ticket instead.

“Using an OTA or a third party often results in being issued a lower level of an airline fare class,” Park says. “If flights are empty or if there is space in business or first, you’re more likely to get bumped up even before you check in.”

8. Be nice

Flying might be stressful to most, but always remember it can pay to be nice to your gate agents and flight attendants. Kind gestures and simply smiling can go a long way.

“If a flight is completely booked or oversold, they may upgrade you based on your delightful personality during a stressful moment,” Gabe Saglie, senior editor at Travelzoo, says.

9. Log on at the last minute

Clem Bason, founder of goSeek, says most air carriers offer the ability on their respective websites or apps to upgrade your ticket any time after purchase and prior to the flight.

“Most air carriers now use variable pricing when offering these upgrades,” Bason says. “Check just before 24 hours prior to the flight, [and] you might find lower upgrade prices as the carrier will want to fill as many higher-quality seats as possible &mdash and get cash for it.”

10. Don’t be afraid to flaunt a special occasion

Is it your honeymoon? Your birthday? Maybe an anniversary? Tell your flight attendants!

“Who doesn’t want honeymooners to have a great time? There’s never a guarantee you’ll get upgraded, but it’s the situation where agents are most likely to give an upgrade solely because they want you to be happy,” Keyes says. “Only one chance at this &mdash probably &mdash so take advantage.”

11. “Tip” your flight attendant

Bet you never thought of this one: Bring a gift.

“If you’d like to go one step further, bring along a small gift like a chocolate bar or a note of appreciation to give to the flight attendants,” Molly Cowen, editor at TravelPirates, says. “Not only do they greatly appreciate the gesture, but they’ll be much more likely to return the favor with any available upgrades &mdash or in-flight goodies.”

“It is a great way to introduce yourself, and the sweet gesture goes a long way,” Smith adds. “In the past, I’ve gotten my seat upgraded or a free cocktail out of it!”

How Airline Food Is Changing During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Beverages, snacks, and premium cabin services are being scaled back this summer.

Memorial Day weekend is coming up and, under normal circumstances, this would mean that we&aposd spend at least two days attending neighborhood block parties, frantically Googling how to get mustard stains out of a pair of linen shorts, and wondering whether this might be the year to visit one of those blowout mattress sales. It would also be the unofficial start date for the summer travel season, when we would&aposve all taken our shoes off and shuffled through lengthy TSA lines, wedged ourselves into undersized airplane seats, and complained about those minor inconveniences until it was time to check in for our return flights.

Everything will be different this year, for obvious reasons. But airlines are still doing what they can to accommodate any passengers who want to (or need to) keep flying, and every carrier is taking steps to ensure that those onboard have the safest possible experience. Although some of the details differ from airline to airline, face masks seem to be mandatory, boarding processes are constantly changing to prevent customers from crowding together at the gate, and there&aposs an increased focus on keeping everything as clean as possible. (RIP to inflight magazines, which always felt like glossy collections of germs.)

Inflight food and beverage services have been scaled back as well and, again, the practices can differ from airline to airline, but here&aposs what you can expect if you&aposre traveling in the near future:

Seattle-based Alaska Airlines says that it is "temporarily reducing [its] onboard service levels," which means that no foods or drinks will be served on any flights under 350 miles. On longer flights, first and premium class customers can have individual bottles of water, a sealed can of beer, and a packaged snack. Those traveling in the main cabin will get bottled water and a snack. Alaska has also temporarily suspended its pre-order meal selection, and is instead encouraging passengers to bring their own snacks.

American Airlines is also limiting its inflight service based on flying time. For flights under 2,200 miles or less than 4 ½ hours, first class customers will get pretzels, Biscoff cookies or chips, and a bottle of water during boarding, and can request alcohol during the flight. Main cabin customers have the same snack-and-water options when they board, but cannot buy snacks, alcohol, or additional food during the flight Extra bottles of water, canned drinks, and juice will be available by request. On longer flights (over 2,200 miles) main cabin meal service will still be limited to long haul international flights, and first and business class customers will have to make do with a meal that is served on a single tray instead of in multiple courses.

Delta&aposs options look similar to American&aposs, although passengers on U.S. domestic and international flights to Canada, the Caribbean, Central America, and Mexico will be restricted to bottled water only, regardless of their cabin the airline will not offer alcohol, plastic cups, or ice. For long-haul international flights, Delta One and Premium Select customers will be served an entrພ, bread, and dessert, while Comfort+ and Main Cabin travelers will get an entrພ and dessert. All passengers will have "a full selection of beverage options," including booze.

According to its most recent press release, JetBlue is sticking to "pre-sealed snack bags and meals." Food & Wine has reached out to JetBlue for additional details.

Southwest has temporarily suspended all of its onboard beverage and snack services until further notice.

The champagne that will be offered to you, as well as the different wines available on board, have been selected by Paolo Basso, named world's best sommelier in 2013. For your meal, you can choose between 2 hot dishes. For certain destinations in Asia, local specialties are also available. We provide film or individually wrapped products whenever possible. At the end of your meal, enjoy a coffee, tea or digestive liqueur.

Elegant trays and self-service buffet

Your meal is served on a functional yet stylish tray designed by Eugeni Quitllet, student of designer Philippe Starck.

Throughout your flight, we also serve hot and cold drinks (with or without alcohol).

Depending on your flight's duration and departure and arrival time, a snack or breakfast including one hot item is served. On longer flights, a self-service buffet including sweet and savory treats, sandwiches and ice cream is provided.


We pay special attention to our young passengers. For infants and children up to 8 years of age, we provide a meal adapted to their tastes. Composed partly of organic products, the meal is served on a fun tray and accompanied by a package of games to enhance their travel experience.

In addition, your child's meal is served before yours for added comfort.

Children aged 9 to 11 can also receive a meal adapted to their tastes, if requested at the time of booking.

Air France Offers New Business Class Menu - Recipes

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