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The great business class bake off – Qatar Airways v BA v Emirates

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Over a four week period recently I flew Qatar Airways, Emirates and British Airways in business class on a flight which included a main meal.

I thought it would be a bit of fun to compare the three meals.  Did British Airways have the best business class food or not?

(You cannot use this exercise to draw serious conclusions about the food quality on any of the airlines, especially as my food choices are biased towards fish and poultry.  Certain themes do seem to come through though.)

Let’s jump straight in:

Round 1 – amuse bouche

This is a clear win for Qatar Airways as neither Emirates or British Airways served one.  Here is the Qatar Airways amuse bouche of Indian spiced lobster:

Qatar Airways 777 amuse bouche

Round 2 – appetiser

Qatar Airways served up a smoked chicken terrine with pear chutney (2 other options):

Qatar Airways 777 appetiser

British Airways offered me a bocconcini mozzarella and slow-roasted cherry tomatoes with basil dressing (1 other option).  It was served as pictured, ie tipped to one side of the plate!

Club World appetiser

Emirates gave me seared tuna with marinated asparagus and caper vinaigrette sauce (three other options):

Emirates appetiser

I judged Emirates as the winner of this round and I think the photos back me up.

Round 3 – main course

Qatar Airways really hit its stride here with arabic spiced monkfish with sayadiah rice (2 other options).

As I wrote in my original trip report “the mild spiciness of the monkfish overcame the dulling sensation that your taste buds experience in flight to ensure that the food did still deliver a kick.  It also came with a selection of bread which did actually taste and feel like bread”.

Qatar Airways 777 main course

BA’s Club World had a broader range with four options.  I went with North Atlantic cod with a saffron and sultana sauce, vegetable tagine and couscous.  Yet again, presentation lets BA down in a big way:

British Airways Club World main course

Emirates also had four options.  I went with roast chicken dressed with chicken jus lie, served with red pepper, courgette, yellow squash and oregano potatoes.  It wasn’t bad but Qatar had an edge.

Emirates business class main

Qatar Airways wins the main course round.

Round 4 – dessert

To be honest, none of the three airlines really went for it here. In general there was just one ‘proper’ option plus fruit, ice cream, cheese etc.

Qatar Airways came up with cardamom panna cotta with rhubarb compote (two other options of fruit and ice cream):

Qatar Airways 777 dessert

British Airways had four options – cheese, fruit, ice cream and the chocolate and orange Mogador with orange sauce which is what I went with:

British Airways Club World dessert

Finally, Emirates had four options – cheese, fruit, chocolate fudge cake and mascarpone mousse with mango compote garnished with fresh berries:

Emirates business class dessert

I am going to judge this round a tie.  The Qatar dessert had more ‘going on’ and was technically the most accomplished but the BA Club World option had a satisfying bite from the orange sauce.

The winner

Based purely on the three meals above, I will give Qatar Airways the prize for ‘best meal’.  There was not a dull note anywhere.  Emirates comes in 2nd place.

British Airways is third, let down by poor presentation and, frankly, clear evidence that less money has been spent and ‘easy options’ (in terms of ability to serve) taken.  Take a look at the carrots in that Qatar main course – you are never going to see that on British Airways, even in First Class.

Comments (48)

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  • Payl says:

    It really is not fair if you to compare club world with genuine business class products on any level let alone the food. On the phone those pictures of BA simply look like slip. I know that’s extreme and it’s not but it looks awful. The other looked great and I can tell you that had you compared with AA or CX of QF the outcome would have been the same.

  • Tariq says:

    The BA main course looks like a Y meal in a ceramic dish!

  • Oscarthegrouch says:

    Absolutely, it’s not fair to compare club world to the other two business class products, or indeed any other business class product. BA are perfect, we all know that.

    It’s this attitude that keeps them in the dark ages btw.

  • Daz says:

    The BA main course looks like the frozen microwave dishes that I ate in the 80s, oooh how retro!!

    BA, a national airline to be proud of, puts a lump in your throat (in more ways than one).

  • Jan says:

    Great post. And I agree: Qatar offers the best food, with British Airways far behind the 2 Middle East carriers when it comes to gastronomy. But I still think there are airlines out there that offer more delicious food at 30 000 feet. As a matter of fact, I published a post today on my blog about the top 10 airlines with the best onboard food: (EDIT: deleted for reasons below!) You agree with the winner? 🙂

    • Oscar the grouch says:

      Ohhh, goodie, I’m flying OS in May.
      Came home on EY last week, and my meal was splendid, I also had the fish and chips of the snack menu, which was lovely.
      Agree on swiss and SQ too, felt a bit let down by TK though.

    • Lady London says:

      Just curious about your post that includes the link to your own blog Jan. What’s the etiquette of posting a link to your own blog, on someone else’s blog? Is that something you just do? or is there a kind of etiquette of checking with the person whose blog it is?

      • Jan says:

        @LadyLondon Not sure if any etiquette exists. I sometimes post a link to my blog in another blog’s comment’s section when I feel its appropriate and in line with the blogger’s post. People do it all the time on my blog as well. The blog’s owner has always the last word: he or she can delete comments with (or without) links.

        • Rob says:

          If it is relevant, current, adds something and the original comment still has merit on a standalone basis, then I am OK with it.

      • Worzel says:

        Lady London(3:44 pm):

        You are right to question the posting- Jan(8:11 am)- I’m with you on this.

        Jan’s view is – ‘Not sure if any etiquette exists’.

        I’ve had a look at the link and see it as an unnecessary diversion.

        • Lady London says:

          Hi Worzel
          I’ve found all the comments on the question I raised very helpful That included Rob’s own on this. Jan’s blog is kind of personal I guess. It does not include all airlines that normally come up on such lists such as Thai Airways. Could be Jan hasn’t flown on some of them. Some of Jan’s text does look to have been lifted out of each airline’s own publicity texts too. I guess there’s nothing like the personal approach of Raffles that we all appreciate so much. Thanks for the Bake-off Raffles.

    • CV3V says:

      According to your blog the post wasnt today but was Nov 24.

      What’s the basis for the article? Reason I ask is that the flight details and date for the flights you list and/or review doesn’t match up to the food reviews. Its always good for a reader to know what your review/list is based on, i.e. personal experience or some other way?

      • Jan says:

        @CV3V Thank for picking up that mistake. I corrected the date. Everything I publish on my blog is solely based on and a reflection of my own experience (I run the blog purely as a hobby). And when it comes to taste buds, that is very subjective of course. Not sure what you mean about the discordance between the flight details, flight dates (which are not same as the dates that I post the review), and/or food review. The list of my favorite top 10 airlines for food is based on having flown most of them multiple times. And while I always tend to fly oneworld (since I am an oneworld emerald member, despite flying out all the time from a Star Alliance hub), it is hard to beat Singapore and especially Austrian when it comes to food. And while I love British Airways, their food in Club World can be a hit or miss (most of the time, it’s a shame). Sorry for any mistakes (English is not my native language)!

        • Waribai says:

          “Everything I publish on my blog is solely based on and a reflection of my own experience”

          Ahem….your own experience or that of Hilary Walke?

          http://www.thrillist.com/travel/nation/best-airline-food-six-airlines-that-bring-gourmet-meal-to-30000-ft

          Looks like you have copied her word for word!

          • Andy says:

            Where did she go

          • Lady London says:

            Oh dear Waribai! I’ve looked at the link to Hilary’s blog you gave. It does look as though that text is identical on Jan’s own blog site that he refers to.

            Oh dear naughty Jan who said “Everything I publish on my blog is solely based on and a reflection of my own experience (I run the blog purely as a hobby” ?

            Worzel sorry it looks like you were right to be doubtful… sorry

            A pity as I’m always looking for original comments on the food on various airlines.

          • Worzel says:

            LL;

            Well Done for identifying the issue in the first place, Worz.

          • Rob says:

            Thanks for your input on this Worzel! I will be more careful in future.

        • Waribai says:

          Haha…I had a look at his/her site again today and they are still up to no good. They’ve changed the content of that article and have now ripped off another webpage instead!

  • Kathy H says:

    My recent experience of BA Club World food was basically dreadful – badly served, overcooked and fairly tasteless. The afternoon tea was a joke, a small cellophane packet with three finger sandwiches and one scone with jar of jam and pot clotted cream. Having flown Qatar and Emirates too their meals are so much better in every way.

    • Head for Points says:

      I got the afternoon tea as well! However, there is a twist here. If you fly to Dubai on BA during the day, you will get the dodgy afternoon tea as a 2nd meal. On Emirates, though, there is no 2nd meal (although there are lots of canapés available in the bar on the A380s).

      • andy21 says:

        EK serve an afternoon tea as the second meal on DXB-LHR/LGW on the later day flights (2/3pm) as well as some light hot options. These flights arrive early evening and the crew told me that feedback was that by the time people got home they were hungry, so they started offering a second meal.

    • Lux says:

      And if you’re unlucky the fat bloke in seat 64J will dip his hand into the basket and take two scones, and you in 64K will have none.

  • Simon85 says:

    On a Club World flight to Newark last month, BA served me up a plate of slop that was supposed to be Beef Casserole. It was basically an economy meal on a plate, and was overheated so I burnt my mouth on it.

    First Class on the return flight from Chicago was a different matter however, the food was excellent.

  • Euflyer Tom says:

    If anyone out there fancies seeking out “the world’s worst airline food”, I can assure you that you need look no further than Air Malta. You will go running back to BA begging forgiveness, I promise you.

    Indeed, when my wife was in the national hospital in Malta having our first baby, I thought to myself “I recognise this” when the predictably awful food came along. Sure enough, the hospital food and Air Malta food are from exactly the same supplier.

    To end on a positive note, Etihad is the most impressive biz class food I’ve ever had.

    • Raffles says:

      I am doing Etihad F and J in January and will report back!

      • Euflyer Tom says:

        Bear in mind my designated “death row last meal” is the Pizza Hut deep pan Hawaiian, so my culinary recommendations are to be viewed accordingly.

        • Gnarlyoldgoatdude says:

          Tom,
          Really. I mean REALLY?
          We love KMs club class menus. Tastier than BA’s offering on the same route. Especially live the beef strips. So tasty.

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