The ‘airline food’ jokes are a cliche of bad comedians for ages, but these days, with the penny pinching increasing more and more in Economy class, it’s not just a meme…it’s a practical reality.
In Economy class, you’re served prepackaged meals microwaved en masse. You don’t usually have many options, and if you have allergies or don’t like certain types of food, you’re just out of luck, most of the time.
Sometimes, you get lucky. Whenever I fly ANA or JAL, I’m always satisfied with the meal service.
To avoid the coin-flip of your meal being delicious or not, it’s best to plan ahead. I do so by eating big right before the flight.
This is a video from my YouTube Channel documenting the flight I took home for Christmas last year. It opens with me eating a big lunch at Yabaton, a nice restaurant in Central Tokyo. I coupled my meal with a Guinness, and bought snacks before boarding. The inflight meal was not delicious at all, but I didn’t go hungry. I still had plenty of Yabaton and Guinness digesting inside my stomach.
This is something I take very seriously before I fly long-haul. I make my ‘preflight meal’ a big deal in order to stay full during the 12 or 13 hour flight. That way, in case of bad inflight food, I’ll not end up with a growling stomach.
The important thing to remember for getting a preflight meal is make sure it’s filling. If you’re on a diet, this is the time of the week to have a cheat day, because if you don’t fill your stomach up with meat and carbs, you’re going to have a rough flight. Notice that most of my preflight meals are sandwiches…burgers, BLTs, paninis…they’re a good mix of grains, meats, and veggies. Also, it’s not necessary, but one preflight alcoholic beverage helps me sleep better during the flight. Flying is a massive headache and (as bad as this sounds) that pint of beer I have before a flight really works to calm the nerves and chill me out before I step onboard. Don’t go overboard, though. One pint will do.
I plan out my preflight meals carefully. When I fly out of Japan, I eat at a favorite restaurant within easy reach to the rail access to whichever airport I’m going to-If I’m flying out of NRT, I eat around my neighborhood, but if I’m flying out of HND, I eat in Shimbashi or near Tokyo Station, that way I can get to the train and to the airport quickly.
When I connect, I am always mindful of which airport I’m connecting in. Minneapolis and Chicago have the BEST airport bars I’ve ever been to in terms of food quality and beer selection (see the two images above), so when I connect I make sure I have ample time between my outbound CVG flight and my connection in those airports.
I hope this advice helps! Let me know what your preflight meal of choice is in the comments or on twitter, @phx787.