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12 Old-Fashioned Airline Foods We Want Back ASAP

You’re lucky if you get a bag of peanuts these days.

In the late 1950s, transatlantic trips from New York City to Europe took flight, and the Golden Age of travel took off. In this era of pre-airline deregulation—we're mainly talking about the 1960s through the mid-70s—old-fashioned airline food was not only edible, it was outstanding. Think five-star dinners, endless cocktails, seven-course meals, white tablecloths, and fine china.

Take a look at some of the menu dishes and drinks that were once served according to the TWA Museum, Pan Am Museum, and various publications over the years. Who's ready for a look back at the most amazing old-fashion food served on airplanes with a side of civility in the sky? Plus, don't miss 8 Old-Fashioned Ingredients That No One Uses Anymore (But Should!)


old-fashioned airline food chateaubriand
Courtesy TWA Museum

And TWA was famously known for carving chateaubriand on a rolling cart in the aisle.

Baked Alaska

baked alaska

Once upon a time, Cathay Pacific prepared Baked Alaska while in flight. Could you imagine setting something on fire in today's planes?

Prawn Curry

Prawn Curry airline food

In the early '70s, Singapore Airlines flight menus featured regional-inspired dishes like prawn curry and Malaysian salad; even in economy, the menu offerings were impressive, think stuffed mushrooms with crab meat and stir-fried shrimp.

Tea in the sky

japanese tea plane

Airlines also debuted separate dining and cocktail lounges on planes, and Japan Airlines once even recreated a Teahouse in the Sky designed to resemble a traditional Japanese country inn, according to Travel & Leisure, with hot and cold sake selections and Japanese teas.

An entire restaurant menu

TWA carving chateaubriand
Mondadori via Getty Images

Pan Am and Maxim's de Paris—the legendary restaurant near Place de la Concorde—partnered to offer the esteemed restaurant's French culinary menu on international flights beginning in the 1950s, according to For years, Maxim's chefs prepared Pan Am's Atlantic catering; meals were flash-frozen and stored at various locations. With such a pairing, the airline might as well have been named Pan Glam, it certainly did give lift to a glamorous time in air travel.

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Carrots Vichy

Pan Am Maxim's menu
Courtesy of Pan Am Historical Foundation

Named for the lovely French resort town of Vichy, this elegant carrot dish is sweet and a little caramelized, and was a Pan Am Maxim's menu side dish.

Get the recipe from Full of Plants.

Boeuf Braise Bogeouise

Boeuf Braise Bogeouise and sides

Here's a recipe for the classic French dish on the Maxim's menu, by way of another quintessential French culinary star, Julia Child.

Get the recipe from Tablespoon.


beluga caviar

Caviar in the skies was the money spot, and epitomized the glamorous in glam travel period; Air France served Beluga caviar on-board in the 1950s.

Here, is a collection of caviar recipes to transport you.

Assiette Parisienne

cheese plate

Ooh, la la! Even the economy class menu on Pan Am's Jet Clipper flights was inspired by the best French culinary dishes. Like this elevated mixed salad plate with ham, camembert cheese, hard-boiled eggs, tomatoes, and vegetable salad, with a couple of cornichons. Also served were lovely fromage (or cheese) assortments with petite pains (bread).

Get the recipe from Epicurious.

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Fricassee of Veal a l'Ancienne

restaurant food airline

An economy class menu in the early '60s included the classic French comfort dish Fricassee of Veal a l'Ancienne and rice pilaf with peas.

Get the recipe from Martha Stewart.

Broiled Beef Teriyaki

beef Teriyaki airline

And a 1970's economy class menu on Pan Am's New York/Fairbanks/Tokyo route put the spotlight on Broiled Beef Teriyaki, Chicken Hasamiyaki, and the ever-popular Braised Beef Bourguignon.

Get the recipe from Baking Mischief.

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Coffee, Tea or…?

airline coffee

How about a daiquiri or whiskey sour to sip on the journey? Those fancy cocktails were also favorites served on Pan Am flights, but, sadly, no longer…And in the spirit of travel, international coffees were also often served on Pan Am flights including Cafe Parisienne with Grand Mariner, Cafe Royal with Cognac, Cafe Mexicano with Kahlua, and Italian Coffee with amaretto di sal.

The days of luxury airline travel are behind us—unless you've got the big bucks—but we can still dream something beyond peanuts will be available in the future. Happy flying!