Air travel these days seems to have an ever-longer list of inconveniences (paying to check bags, smaller seats, no free snacks onboard). But some airlines are listening to their frustrated customers and actually adding amenities. Cathay Pacific, long considered Asia's top airline, just announced a partnership with the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group to create seasonal menus to be served in first class on their direct flights from New York, London, Paris, Boston and San Francisco to Hong Kong at different times throughout the year.
For February's menu on flights from New York to Hong Kong, Cathay Pacific tapped the talents of chef Christian Pratsch from Asiate at the Mandarin Oriental New York. His Big Apple-inspired menu includes items like pastrami-cured salmon with cucumber salad and caviar and roasted tomato soup with grilled cheese croutons. The airline will continue to serve its regular first class à la carte options in addition to the seasonal offerings, and menus vary depending on the flight's origin. But how can flight attendants recreate chef-designed meals in the limited space of an airplane cabin? After working with chefs to come up with menu ideas, Cathay Pacific coorinated with its airport catering company in each city to recreate the dishes so that they could be heated up and served in-flight—even going so far as to use the exact same suppliers as the restaurants in some cases. They also created plating guides for every dish to ensure a restaurant-like experience with every meal. The menus, changing monthly, will be available in first class through the end of the year.