We’ve all seen it before – you’re in a restaurant and the person at the table next to you has their camera phone out and is happy-snapping their chosen dish before uploading it to one of the many social media sites out there.
Food lovers the world over are now taking their cuisine-capturing antics to the skies as airlines find more and more of their dishes are ending up online.
Airlinemeals.net is one such site that travelers are posting their pictures to and with over 26,000 photos and counting of more than 600 flight operators, the industry is taking notice.
Ten years ago Marco ‘t Hart was in a long-distance relationship which saw him flying every six to eight weeks. On one such flight he took a picture of his food at the behest of his inquisitive parents.
Weeks later curiosity lead him to the internet to see if others were doing the same and he found around 20 images. After seeking the image owners permission, he thought it would be fun to put the pictures on a website and airlinemeals.net was born.
“[I was] amazed at first, as it was never set up to be as big as it is now. After that it became clear there was a demand for this site, so I kept developing it, trying to inform people as well as I can,” ‘t Hart said.
There was once a time where the words “in-flight food” induced involuntary shudders from frequent flyers and nightmarish images of shapeless, gray meat drearily covered in dubious-looking sauce with a rock-hard bread roll and tasteless cake as side dishes. ‘t Hart says it is because of the unpopularity of certain foods that the site became so successful.
He says: “Ten years ago this was one of the first websites that gave people the opportunity to share and leave feedback at things from every day life. The site gave people a place to complain. Besides that people enjoy looking at some of the odd images.”
The website’s success has even caught the attention of airline catering companies who he says use the site in a different way to frequent flyers.
“Airlines and crew also use the site as a tool to educate their people and to read responses from travelers.”
Along with the emergence of flying food critics, the increased popularity in airline review websites like Skytrax and Skyscanner have caused airlines to make a concerted crack at improving in-flight gastronomy.
Especially in the business and first-class cabins where travelers have seen flight operators bringing Michelin-starred chefs to reinvent their food for offer.