An old chestnut is the sweeping generalisation that things were better in the past. This certainly applies to people’s perception of airline meals but in this case it may be true.

The late 1990s saw a whole host of innovations introduced and the two with the most lasting influence were lie-flat seats in business class and individual in seat inflight entertainment. The following menu makes me believe the meals may have been better too.

Meals On British Airways

Someone on the BA forum on FlyerTalk posted a picture of a World Traveller menu from the late 1990s. It is probably from 1997 due to the fact it is referencing “our new corporate identity programme” which were the ill fated World Tails, one of which you can see at the top of this post.

First and foremost, there is an actual menu and a nice substantial one at that. Today the menu in World Traveller Plus is a small card while World Traveller passengers don’t receive one at all. What is quite interesting is how the old menu is written.

Essentially the menu reminds me of how the current business class menus are written. Each dish is described in detail, making it sound quite wonderful even though it is just the classic chicken or beef offering.

It’s All About Perception

It seems fairly simple to me, but it doesn’t take much to make a brand seem to be great quality. Providing a tasteful menu to economy class passengers which describe their meals in a delicious way certainly makes things appear better than they may actually be.

Sure, the whole ethos is to spend as little money as possible on those flying economy as they are actually paying the least. Even so, it is little things like this that can make an airline stand apart from its competitors.

On several occasions people have remarked to me that, “We got a menu – in economy!” which is said as though it was the greatest thing that had ever happened in flight. For that to be so important shows how much people like to be treated as human beings when in the cheap seats.

You could say a menu was a waste of paper. On the other hand, you could also say it is a tangible part of the flight. Someone might take it with them and show a friend – if the food was good – and therefore good PR for the airline.

Overall Thoughts

I would argue that a menu in some form should be provided to long haul economy class passengers. Showcasing the meals is always a good thing and as I said above, I think it really adds to the brand.

Perhaps the way forward is to have the flight menu on the entertainment system to save on printing costs. Of course, that means having a modern entertainment system that can be programmed to do this, which is a whole other kettle of fish.

What do you think? Does the menu have the power to change a person’s perception of a flight or am I just talking nonsense? Thanks for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

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Featured image by Dennis HKG on Flickr.