The golden rule of flying is: Don’t trust airlines to entertain you or feed you. Why? Because they suck at it.
It’s simple. When you go to the movies, they may serve food, but it isn’t great food. You may go to a restaurant, but any entertainment is merely a distraction, and usually it’s from food that may not be great. Airlines should be great at one thing: carrying passengers from place to place, on time, for a reasonable price.
In a recent interview with Esquire, Kitchen Confidential author and Parts Unknown host Anthony Bourdain said of inflight dining, "There’s almost never a good reason to eat on a plane. You’ll never feel better after airplane food than before it. I don’t understand people who will accept every single meal on a long flight. I’m convinced it’s about breaking up the boredom. You’re much better off avoiding it. Much better to show up in a new place and be hungry and eat at even a little street stall than arrive gassy and bloated, full, flatulent, hungover. So I just avoid airplane food. It’s in no way helpful."
From Talking Travel’s perspective, eating on a plane is just too random. When will meals on a long flight be served? What if the choices are beef or fish, and beef just ran out? How would something packed in advance not be preferable to whatever might be served. At Heathrow Airport, Chef Gordon Ramsey operates a restaurant called Plane Food, which can feed you a high quality lunch, or fix you a carry-on lunch for GBP 11.95, complete with its own reusable picnic case. Now that’s flying.
Similarly, an airline can’t be trusted to entertain you. On a recent flight, I was offered two blockbusters, which I rarely watch, on a main, flickering screen because there was no in-seat entertainment and no in-seat power. There is only one way to combat this, or another potential failure like the seat with no audio or video connection: charge all your devices, load them up with audio and video content, and bring a couple of books and magazines. The monitor may not be working, some other connection could have failed, there’s no audio. These and any other potential pitfalls can only be avoided by preparation. If you take your seat and are delighted with the audiovisual offerings and the food is delicious, then you’re ahead. But 12 hours is a long time to be trapped with nothing to take your mind off of how close the seat in front of you is to your nose, or how the smell of the "chicken" makes you sick.
That’s it for Saturday. ‘Til Wednesday, one road flat safe.
This post first appeared on thebeijinger.com on August 28, 2014 and has been slightly modified.