Food I Had Onboard XIV (January 2024 – early March 2024)

France, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia and Malaysia – I am just coming back from a massive aviation trip, which is the foundation of this Food I Had Onboard episode. However, there are some more (less spectacular) culinary treats in planes and trains this time again. Enjoy the calories with me – this time with a couple of flight re-bookings.


5th January 2024, Deutsche Bahn / German Rail ICE 201 Cologne-Deutz – Basel German Station, First Class (Paid Service)

I hadn’t posted the 13th edition of Food I Had Onboard yet when I already made the first experience for this 14th one. This time, I was heading towards Switzerland in the First Class of the German high-speed train ICE. I could make use of the online ordering system of the company. Less than 15 minutes later, the friendly restaurant staff member served me an oven-baked bread with cheese (which might have been even better if it had less time in the heat) and a really nice Italian inspired pasta salad. The total for these two dishes was 13.90 EUR. Good one!


7th February 2024, Swiss LX 1017, Dusseldorf (DUS) – Zurich (ZRH) Business Class

Germany’s workers unions love to strike in recent times – and I love to hit the strike action. After my handball trip to Berlin was influenced by rail strikes, Lufthansa ground crew refused to work right before carnival so that Lufthansa re-booked me to their Swiss subsidiary. This meant one additional day off work (the original booking has been a night flight) and a flight via Zurich (ZRH) instead of via Munich (MUC). The breakfast service on the short flight was rather nice, with some smoked salmon, pancake and a croissant. The purser was amazing, the other flight attendant serving the business class was charming, but felt a bit insecure – could be that she is just in the first steps of her career.


7th February 2024, Swiss LX 242, Zurich (ZRH) – Dubai (DXB), Business Class

Even though I overall really like flying Swiss, I ran into a couple of mixed experiences when doing their long-haul flights. The Dubai flight was expected to be a rather short one anyway. Even though the Airbus A330 cabin feels a bit of old, I absolutely enjoyed my “throne” seat (a single seat at the window). I initially felt that the service was charming, but when it came to the meal (there is just one on that flight), I had the worst Swiss performance of my life. The first course (which is a cold one!) did not start before 1:40 hrs after take-off. My starter was roast beef with pickled vegetables, which was okay. As during my recent flight from Zurich (ZRH) to Los Angeles (LAX), the starter came with absolutely boring salad leaves and the cheese board – weird sequence. More than that, the meal came with long gaps between the dishes.

As a main, I would have loved the vegetarian meal – but it was exactly the same I already tried in December. Thus, I went for the pikeperch with onion marmelade, saffron sauce and some vegetables. The fish had no taste, the potatoes were hard and did not come with a touch as well. There was also a beef steak, which had been returned by rather many customers. Again, after a long waiting time, there was a carrot cake, some 2:30 hours after take-off – or should I say three hours before landing? The dessert at least was pleasing. The crew was terribly slow, did not feel coordinated. I also wondered how many chats they had in the galley and how often they interacted with their tablets.

I had a very good chat with the purser about that, who stated that they were even quicker than Swiss is expecting them to do. Finally, these long service times even take them time they could for example need to rest as well. You could later have some snacks and ice cream, which was quite nice.


12th February 2024, Turkish Airlines TK 765, Dubai (DXB) – Instanbul (IST), Business Class

With the tram between the Terminal 1 check-in and security and the gates failing, this flight kicked off as a nightmare. Even though I was one of the first passengers checking in (3 hrs before departure), I just made it to the gate in time. Nothing to blame Turkish Airlines for, Dubai Airport (DXB) is simply bad in that scenario, which I did not have the first time.

The more I looked forward to my very first Turkish Airlines flight, which opened with a lovely selection of juices (no bubbly…) and nuts. Similar to Swiss on the outbound, the starters, cheese and dessert were served on one plate. The kick-off was a selection of Turkish mezze, which I absolutely appreciated. The seasonal salad with beluga lentils and labneh was nice as well.

For the main dish, I went for Islim Kebab, which was really nice, even though the rice was a bit of boring. Alternatives would have been Ricotta Mezzalune or a grilled fillet of salmon. The cheese was fine and the double chocolate cake was a treat. Also due to the three rounds of bread, I felt really saturated and relax. On top of that, the whole service was completed a bit later than one hour after the delayed depature, which was really nice. Unfortunately, while the crew elt very attentive in regards of food and bread, the drink service could have been more proactive.


12th February 2024, Turkish Airlines TK 1529, Istanbul (IST) – Dusseldorf (DUS), Business Class

Due to the delay of the Dubai flight, I had a another physical airport experience, rushing through transfer security to the gate of the Dusseldorf flight. I arrived with Business Class check-in just ongoing and the sweaty me felt a bit of bad for my very kind neighbor. The service was great, starting with the welcome juices again (no picture). I also loved how quick Turkish Airlines was in completing the meal service on this flight, so that there would have been plenty of time to work or relax (or chat with the person next to you).

The meal had a similar structure than in the flight before. The starters, a classic prawn slad and stiry-fry green with red fruit in a yogurt sauce was really nice. Again, there were two bread services, which I absolutely appreciated. There was the choice of a beef dish, baked gnocchi and a grilled chicken breast with corn mousseline, ratatoulle and thyme juice. I took the latter. The presentation does not feel ideal, but the quality was absolutely amazing. The meal finished with a nice selection of cheese and a Tres de Leches cake, which was a lovely finish. Turkish Airlines really impressed me with great service on these two flights.


20th February 2024, British Airways BA 997, Cologne/Bonn (CGN) – London-Heathrow (LHR), Business Class

Heading to the Jenn Bostic show in London, I used the most convenient option on a normal work day and took the British Airways noon service from Cologne/Bonn (CGN) to Heathrow (LHR). The crew was really nice and absolutely attentive. You had two options in business lass / Club Europe. As I knew the smoked salmon plate already, I went for the “bowl”, which was an absolute delight. Some beetroot, mango rice was really filling and enjoyable, the crumble-alike fruit cream was a nice finale as well. Good flight!


21nd February 2024, British Airways BA 3273 (operated by BA Cityflyer), London-City (LCY) – Dusseldorf (DUS), Business class

The flight back home was delayed, as the crew arrived very late in Dusseldorf (DUS) the day before and first had to keep their rest time. I typically like BA Cityflyer meals from London City (LCY), but I was not overwhelmed this time. You could either have a coleslaw salad with chicken – or one with cheese. A rather limited choice, the meal was quite nice, though. I went for the chicken. The desert was a fruit loaf cake. Not the best meal I ever had with the airline, but a solid one.


23rd February 2024, Air France AF 1307 (operated by Hop!), Dusseldorf (DUS) – Paris (CDG), Economy

Before I headed to Malaysia, I had to position myself to Tunis (TUN). The first leg of the trip was the short connection to Paris (CDG). A cookie and an orange juice – an absolutely reasonable service, regarding the duration of the flight.


23rd February 2024, Air France AF 1184, Paris (CDG) – Tunis (TUN), Economy

I was a bit of nervous about the flight to Tunis (TUN). Overall, the crew was very nice – I was rather bothered by my neighbor who had a Facetime call until the very beginning of take-off. Can’t we ban this one, please? The meal service for the two hour flight was a selection of a cheese or a grilled vegetable sandwich. I went for the first option – finally I have to state that the other one might have been the better choice. The Dutch part of the KLM / Air France company definitely does better in economy on that distance.


24th February 2024, Saudia SV 366, Tunis (TUN) – Jeddah (JED), Business Class

My first flight with Saudia was of course an exciting experience for me. The flight was operated with their rather legacy plane, the Airbus A330-300, which is just having recline seats and no lie-flats. The service on the ground was a bit of bumpy – while some people did get a welcome coffee, others, including myself, did not. However, right before take-off, there was Saudi coffee and dates, which I really liked. The meal choice was between A La Carte (non-Saudi) food and a Sufrah meal. I went for that and got a lovely Lamb mandi, cooked lamb with rice, which came with Arabian bread, cucumber mint yogurt, tomato cucumber salad and muhammara cream.

The dish was absolutely lovely and also had a lovely finish with a date and pecan tart. One thing I really loved, apart from the attentive service, was that the quick serving time of the food. I could start dining already 30 minutes after take-off. A really nice feature was the nice selection of non-alcoholic drinks and cocktails. Saudia is a dry airline and does not serve alcoholic beverages.


25th February 2024, Saudia SV 834, Jeddah (JED) – Kuala Lumpur (KUL), Business Class

After my eight hour layover at the Alfursan Lounge in Jeddah (JED), I headed on in Saudia’s Airbus Boeing 787 to Kuala Lumpur (KUL). The pre-flight drink were two rounds of Saudi coffee and dates, which I more and more appreciate. I was quite tired and fell asleep so that my meal service was influenced by two facts: first of all, there was no menu. Secondly, when the flight attendant told me what has been in stock, I was so dizzy and tired that I did not really get what I ordered. I might have better went for having my dinner before landing, as I was quite filled from the lounge visit.

The more, I was really happy with what I received: A Malaysian rice and chicken dish which a hard boiled eggs, cashews, and a nice hot sauce. Another absolutely delicious performance by Saudia, which also kept me saturated after landing – though the flight was 7:40 hrs. There were some snacks during the flight. You rather need to be a bit of active at Saudia if you want another drink or snack – but overall the crew was really lovely and attentive.


26th February 2024, Firefly FY 1338, Kuala Lumpur Subang (SZB) – Johor Bahru (JHB), Economy

I dd not expect too much when I entered the (delayed) ATR 72 one hour flight from Kuala Lumpur’s secondary airport, Subang (SZG), and Johor Bahru (JHB) in the very South of mainland Malaysia. The more, I was surprisied that Malaysia Airlines’ regional and low far carrier featured a bottle of water and nuts and cookies. Great service.


27th February 2024, Firefly FY 1339, Johor Bahru (JHB) – Kuala Lumpur Subang (SZB), Economy

I did not take any photo here – it would have been just redundant. Apart from my charming neighbor (Malaysian people are so open-hearted…), I again loved the hospitality of the Firefly crew on their domestic hopper from Johor Bahru (JHB) to Subang (SZB).


29th February 2024, Saudia SV 835, Kuala Lumpur (KUL) – Jeddah (JED), Business Class

After the excellent experiences on the outbound leg, I was really looking forward to my flights back to Tunis (TUN). Shout-out to the excellent check-in agent, who managed to book me and my luggage until my final destination Dusseldorf (DUS), by the way.

After my first two Saudia flights had come with excellent and fast service, I was a bit of confused with their cabin at the beginning: just one round of dates and Saudi coffee as the pre-flight delight and then, it took more than 90 minutes until the meal was served. At least, the nuts in between were perfectly warm and a real treat.

After the Saudi-style dish was in line with my outbound experience, I went for a butternut squash soup as a starter. Soups are always hard for the crew to provide, especially meeting a sensible temperature. My starter was a bit on the cold side, but definitely within expectations. The two lovely-looking bread rolls, however, were rather a challenge for my teeth than a delight – they were just too crispy. However, Saudia did great in the main, where I went for a chargrilled lamb loin with spinach, date paste, zhug, almonds and sweet potato, which was spectacular. I also loved my yogurt and pistachio bread and butter pudding for dessert. The latter came with creme fraiche and sultana.

Some 2:30 hours before landing, I ordered a snack from the light dining menu. Typically, you should do that after take-off already. I went for the lamb pitta sandwich with Garlic Greek yogurt and spiced sweet potato as well as some pickles. The food was lovely, so that I finally had another great experience with the Saudi-Arabian airline.


1st March 2024, Saudia SV 365, Jeddah (JED) – Tunis (TUN), Business Class

Despite it was another leg on their rather old Airbus A330 fleet, I was somehow sad that this was my last flight with Saudia on my Malaysia trip. The crew served breakfast service and was not that fast than on the outbound. Nonetheless, they served food roughly 70 minutes after take-off. I went for the Arabian dish, which was a delicious shakshuka, coming with different condiments like salad and fruit. Another egg dish for breakfast, but still something different than the typical omelette-scrambled egg stuff. I really enjoyed it. The crew was nice – in general, I would like Saudia staff to be a bit more pro-active. Nonetheless, another good flight experience wiith the Middle East company.


1st March 2024, Air France AF 1185, Tunis (TUN) – Paris (CDG), Economy

Another flight, another sandwich. I was quite happy that I just made it into the seat belt without a belt extension, so that I could stay at my emergency exit seat. There was a choice of cheese and vegetable sandwich again. This time, no cookies, but the crew was very nice. As it was likely their last flight of the day, I could even check out the vegetable one later. Nice stuff – in contrast to the terrible ground handling in Tunis (TUN), which caused a 45 minute net delay on the turnaround and made me miss my connection.


2nd March 2024, Air France AF 1306 (operated by Hop!), Paris (CDG) – Dusseldorf (DUS), Economy

Due to the late arrival of my plane from Tunis (TUN) and long lines at the transit security, I missed my Friday night flight back to Düsseldorf. Kudos to Air France, the rescheduling and booking of the hotel, which went super-smoothly. I thus headed back to Germany on the early Saturday morning. Two cookies this time – I just did not manage to take pictures this time. Lovely crew by Hop! again.


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