My flight from Beirut to Istanbul on Turkish Airlines was under 2hrs and departed at 3:05a. Most passengers just slept for the brief flight, but not me. I was actually hungry. Thankfully, Turkish did not disappoint.
Turkish Airlines’ middle-of-the-night flights offer breakfasts in business class, though I had not been on a flight this short. Despite a flying time of only about 90 minutes, a “chef” was present onboard, greeting boarding passengers with a white chef’s apron and hat.
Once at cruising altitude, the smell of fresh-basked breads wafted through the cabin, though the chef appeared first with a tray of beverages including a “homemade” lemon-mint drink and fresh squeezed orange juice. As an aside, Turkish is not a dry airline.
Disappointment spread over my face. Although the tray was filled with fresh, high-quality ingredients and represented a hearty meal for such a short flight, I wanted something warm. At least the simit (the circular bread that looks like a bagel) was fresh and piping hot.
But I ate it all and leaned back in my seat full and at least thinking I had eaten healthy.
Of course I was wrong to underestimate Turkish Airlines in the meal department.
Moments later a cart rolled down the aisle with two breakfast choices, a cheese omelet or Turkish puff pastry.
I could not turn down the omelet and it was (not surprisingly) very delicious.
Granted, it is not constructive to even ponder about such meals coming to U.S. domestic carriers on a 615-mile flight, but I’ll do it anyway. On United, Delta, or American a snack basket is served on a flight of similar length.
While we have seen service levels in economy and especially business class surge in an era of consolidation and depressed fuel prices, U.S. carriers still have a long way to go if they want to compete on world stage, at least in terms of meal service. Even if competing with Turkish onboard meal service is not on the radars of Delta, American, and United, it is still instructive to compare the vast differences between flying in the USA and much of the world.
I walked off the Turkish flight stuffed, but even more surprised by the high service levels on a 90-minute fight in the middle of the night.