The catering is BAD on Alaska Airlines, and they know it.

As a 75k gold member on Alaska Airlines, we fly a lot. Last year we flew over 95k miles on Alaska Airlines flights alone, and in total around 120,000 including partners. Because of their generous (often free) upgrades, we got bumped up to first class about 85% of the time.

While I enjoy the comfortable seat, drinks, entertainment player, and attentive service, the one area where they could use some serious help from Virgin America moving forward is in the catering department. It sucks, and I think they know it.

Lack of Options

One area where Alaska can improve tremendously is by giving passengers an option to choose their meals. I understand that on short flights perhaps there would be only one meal option, but Alaska Airines doesn’t offer any special meal options. No kosher, no halal, no vegetarian, no low sodium, nothing. You get the food we give you and you’re gonna like it.

Vegetarian? Ah no problem, we’ll just remove the chicken and give you the salad alone. Want a meal from coach instead? That’ll cost you. Charging first class passengers for meals, in my opinion, is a huge service failure and lack of attention to detail.

Food Quality

Breakfast is the biggest area where they could improve. On at least 9 flights where we were served breakfast, the eggs were runny, mushy, and the potatoes were totally inedible. They were like golf ball sized pieces of chalk. So powderey and inedible it was sad.

Alaska Airlines Catering

Alaska Airlines Chalky Breakfast

You could tell that the flight attendants knew it too, on more than one occasion they looked at the potatoes, saw they weren’t eaten, and said “I know, I know, I apologize…”

On a long haul flight from the east coast, we were served a Ravioli dish. Please explain to me 1) What that liquid is underneath and 2) How do three Ravioli not have any sauce?!

Alaska Airlines Ravioli

Alaska Airlines Ravioli

On a recent flight from Raleigh to Seattle there was at least an option given, but not only the presentation stunk but so did the taste of the food. The salad was drenched in vinagarette, the chicken wasn’t “blackened” but “burnt” and the cod was as hard as a rock.

Alaska Airlines Catering

Salad bathed in Dressing

Alaska Airlines Catering

“Blackened” Chicken

Alaska Airlines Catering

Brick of Cod

Virgin’s Food

We were upgraded recently on a Virgin America flight from SFO to SEA, and just check out the food that we were given!

Virgin America Protein Pack

Virgin America Protein Pack

Virgin America Steak Salad

Virgin America Steak Salad

Delta’s Food

On a recent shorthaul morning flight from SEA to SFO the offering was beautifully presented, fresh, and tasty. Watch out Alaska, Delta is coming for you…

Delta Breakfast

Delta Breakfast

A couple wins

We did have a great snack on a flight from SEA-SLC however, it was a small bruschetta with a pesto sauce. This one wasn’t too bad, so as you can see it’s kind of hit or miss.

Alaska Airlines Catering

Bruschetta

Also, the drinks are on point. I love that they use local distilleries for their alcohol selection. The Crater Lake Hazelnut Espresso Vodka is one of my guilty pleasures.

What can be done?

Virgin America has it right, and I know that there are going to be a lot of changes coming with the merger. It would seem that Alaska is branding themselves as a “new” Alaska/Virgin combo, and I’m hoping that catering is one of the things that stays from Virgin. After each Alaska flight we get an email asking for comments and suggestions, and you can be sure that I’m always mentioning the catering.

Have you had a good/bad first class first class experience?

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Author: Jon Nickel-D'Andrea

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10 Comments

  1. I think that your overall premise is correct, but when you’re counting unsauced ravioli, you’ve gone too far.

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    • I disagree. The entire premise of first class is … FIRST class. Presentation and image is everything.

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  2. from the post I suggest you fly Delta ! No one fly’s or has ever flown AS for the culinary experience.

    Post a Reply
    • No one flies any airline for the culinary experience, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a factor when choosing. If Alaska didn’t care about it, they wouldn’t partner with Tom Douglas. I expect we’ll see an improved first class experience in the not to distant future.

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      • Lemme tell ya, that the culinary experience is one of the highlights of our Etihad and Emirates experiences. And lemme tell ya, Tom Douglas is not making my food for those flights, because he would never that food fly. Have you ever seen how flat those sandwiches come out of the coach section? Like Arkansas roadkill 🙂 Now, I’m the first one to tell you Olorin that I’m a fanboy of Alaska as much as you are, so I’m also hoping the culinary experience improves!

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  3. I noticed the delta’s meals on most flights (and these images) aren’t hot entrees.
    And I know virgin’s planes don’t have an oven, so the meal on those are always gonna be a cold option.
    I sure prefer a good salad or sandwich from “x” franchise before getting a sad meal that might go to waste.
    I wish Alaska also changed their chef to impress the west coast clientele.
    The upgrades are nice overall and most importantly the service is stellar, which is hard to find these days.

    Post a Reply
    • Uh, EVERY Virgin plane has an oven.

      Post a Reply
    • You’ve clearly never flown first class on Virgin George because ALL of their planes have ovens that are only used to prepare first class meals.

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  4. Alaska generally provides high quality first class meals. They miss the mark when the menu handed out is not what is served. Courses not even close to their description and some not servef at all. e.g “warm roasted mixed nuts”

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  5. I just came across this as a flyer who matched to Alaska MVP from SW A-List. I don’t get to fly Alaska nearly as often as I would like, but every food experience I have had has been satisfactory if not great, actually.

    I purchased breakfast on a flight that included potatoes, eggs, and sausage. I was in Economy, so it was in a wrapped foil tin, but it was better than many hotel breakfasts I have had, and I enjoyed it.

    My two first class experiences also had great food. The first: a mexican steak dish with a legit incredible corn salsa. The second: caprese salad with cold cuts on a red eye. Both meals were presented well and were honestly delicious…and I went in not expecting much!

    To be fair, I have never flown Virgin America for comparison, but perhaps the food department is someone Alaska can take from Virgin.

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