Flights to Hong Kong and Australia
Having to take three flights in a twentyfour hour period I decided to put the airline meals to the test. While the similarities between Hong Kong’s famous seven-a-side rugby tournament and shitty airline meals may not be glaringly obvious, they, well they both have seven in their title and the HK7s is competitive and pitting international airlines off against each other kind of is as well ...
Air New Zealand, NZ38, London to Hong Kong
Dinner: potato salad, Moroccan style chicken, beans and potato gratin, chocolate and raspberry mouse-cake, cheese and biscuits. A pretty decent meal. The potato salad was good; the chicken was surprisingly tender and potato gratin OK. The main let down was the beans; they were overcooked and almost seemed burnt. The highlight of the meal was the chocolate and raspberry mouse-cake which was surprisingly delicious. All up pretty good.
Breakfast: fruit salad, Singapore noodles with BBQ pork, yogurt, blueberry muffin. The fruit salad was OK, though three or four chopped up bits of watermelon and pineapple are never going to be fantastic. The noodles were good, with a large amount of BBQ pork and the muffin was nice and soft. A good start to the day.
Drinks: An excellent selection of New Zealand wines made for some rather pleasant sipping. I really liked the fact they offered a large range of choices. I tried a few Sauvignon Blancs, Chardonnays, Pinots and a Merlot, the only disappointment was one of the Pinots, the rest were delightful. As much as I love coffee I'm certainly not brave enough to drink it in economy class on an airplane!
Service and extras: An international team offered friendly and formal service. Passengers were informed of their meal choices of intercom, rather than by menu, which saved papaer and made for some interesting in-flight entertainment. I was impressed that there was an emphasis on re-usable dishes where possible. 'Movies on demand' was great; though I resisted the temptation of a ten hour Lord of the Rings movie marathon.
Cathay Pacific, CX139, Hong Kong to Sydney
Visited 26th July
Brunch: mixed seasonal fruit, yogurt, omelette with sausage and hash brown, croissant. Again a few chunks of average fruit, almost like you'd get in a bad, old school Chinese restaurant. The omelette was rubber, the sausage questionable and the 'hash brown' a soggy mess. The reheated croissant was an interesting mix of burnt and cold. As much as I enjoyed the yogurt, it was a very average start to the flight.
Dinner: chicken salad, beef stew with mashed potatoes and carrots, panna cotta. This meal was a vast improvement from the brunch. The chicken salad was good and the beef stew was actually very tasty, with well-cooked potato and veg. The panna cotta had a nice subtle flavour and was a decent finish to a good meal.
Drinks: A range of OK Australian wines, mainly from Margaret River (I think); it was hard to read the labels and the staff weren't overly informative. The selection was OK, though nothing really jumped out at me and I the red was a little heavy on the alcohol. And no, why would I want to try the coffee.
Service and extras: I fly Cathay Pacific a bit and their service always seems to be something of a non-event. While I've never really noticed it being bad, I've never really noticed it all; thinking back I can't remember a single crew member from any flight I've been on. Compared to Air New Zealand everything on the Cathay seemed to be disposable (read an environmental joke) and the in-flight entertainment was definitely a step down.
QANTAS, QF497, Sydney to Melbourne
Visited 26th July
Snacks: nuts, rice crackers, mini bottle of wine. While my connecting flight from Melbourne to Sydney was brief I was still impressed. QANTAS apparently offers domestic flyers a complementary drink after 7pm, and I was more than happy with my mini-bottle of Langmeil red and a few nibbles. A brief, but enjoyable outing.
And the winner is ...
In the battle of the 747s - just like their rugby counterparts would do - Air New Zealand easily overcame Hong Kong's Cathay Pacific. Nicer food, noticeably better wine and friendly service all contributed to the New Zealand victory. Another factor that helped seal the game for me was the use of more re-usable utensils and having video-on-demand to watch. QANTAS was definitely an honourable mention and I'll have to fly them for a longer trip soon and see how they compare.