On the Malaysian Air flight I noticed they were sort of going 'green'.
The meals came in a recycled cardboard box, no more plastic tray. The bottom was strong enough to hold everything. But then, after I slid the cover off, I saw everything else was the same as usual, right down to the plastic knife and fork and aluminium foil cover of the main dish.
Economy class has definitely gone downhill. Air France to Singapore wasn't so bad in spite of the wooden knives, forks and spoons but the food wasn't quite as good as in the past. They still use plastic trays, but the food itself is in cardboard containers. I had the fish for dinner while most people preferred the pasta. One thing that Air France has not cut back on is the drink selection. I was almost scolded for declining the champagne, which is still served in plastic glasses. I drank my wine out of a paper cup. With the coffee, they were super generous with the cognac, calvados, pear brandy, etc. Many people got 3 or 4 miniatures with absolutely no problem. (One was enough for me.) I know that cabin crew like to hand it out as long as they have not received rationing orders because it makes for a very quiet night. Breakfast, however, came in a paper bag, with a warm cheese muffin or something served individually.
The return flight was ghastly, but that's because I got stuck having to take KLM to Amsterdam. The crew seemed to have been recruited from a santorium with big fake smiles and extreme domination techniques (AF flight attendants only smile if they feel like smiling, which I prefer). We were served a meal at 3am (flight departure from Singapore at 1:15), which a lot of people skipped for some reason. At least it was an Asian dish, though -- a bit of spicy dahl or something, rice, but then some sort of awful vegetarian (I suppose) meatball sitting in a pile of soupy brown waste. Water bottles were 50cl rather than 25cl, which is good. Everything was paper or wood, of course. Breakfast was "eggs or waffles?" I think I'm the only person who got the waffles anywhere near me. They were soggy crap, but the eggs looked worse, a sort of yellow brick.
To stray from the food for a moment, my row companions are worth a mention. I said elsewhere that on the Air France flight, I was stuck with two old women, but they were wonderful compared to the return flight Even though I was assigned a window seat, the two inner seats were already occupied by a couple with infant (!), which I allowed them to keep, leaving me the aisle. (They were immensely appreciative, in transit from Bali and already totally exhausted.) As an airline employee (retired), I have sat next to many infants, because the airlines really go take special care to try to leave the seats next to the families empty, so last minute boarders like me get assigned those seats when necessary, because we will never complain. I was even moved once to sit next to a dead body (under a blanket). Anyway, the infant was not one of the worst, probably because at under age 2 (the maximum age for being able to ride on a lap), it was already fascinated by the screen). All three of them went to sleep quickly (even though their Bali-Singapore flight was less than 3 hours), which would have been fine except for the aroma that began to permeate the area. The infant had turned into a little shit bomb, and this was a 14 hour flight. It just got worse and worse although of course there is a time when you just don't smell it as much because you get used to it. The man (next to me) finally woke up after about 8 hours to go to the toilet. He left the bag of shit on his wife who was still sleeping. Finally they all got up about 2 hours later to take care of the problem. I had forgotten how nice it was to breathe uncontaminated air.
Anyway back to food. I still had to fly to Paris from Amsterdam, something which I used to do regularly but had not done for years. Air France completely packed the back of the plane, so they put me in business class, which was half empty with its wonderful leather seats. I have travelled in back many times, and this is a really really short flight (45 minutes), so they barely have time to serve coffee and tea. But I have also been in front a few times (also to London, which is equally short), and it is an incredible world of difference. I received a huge tray (bigger than the dinner trays on the other flights) with a linen serviette tied up with a vinyl lace to hold the four pieces of metal cutlery -- knife fork and two spoons). There was a large crêpe filled with cream cheese and julienned cucumber and cabbage, warm bread and warm croissant, luxury butter and a glass pot of jam, a little slash of puréed carrot to separate the rest from the big bowl of fromage frais covered with blueberries. The carrot stuff made me smile, because I recognised it as the only downgrade in the meal -- it looked and was the size of the slice of smoked salmon that used to be there. I only had juice in a real glass, but beside the coffee and tea, some of these people were actually drinking champagne, too. What has always impressed me the most on these ultra short flights is that I didn't even get my tray until the pilot had announced "cabin crew: beginning descent" but the crew seems completely unhurried as they go about their business (unlike in back), and they collect the last items practically two minutes before they receive the order to be seated for landing. The flight attendant who attended to me was about 5 months pregnant, which was a first in my experience.
What do people think of ordering "special meals"? Some say that if you order a halal, kosher, vegetarian etc meal it is produced in smaller quantities and often better than the standard one.
I always now order a 'special meal'. Nearly always it is vegetarian Indian (if that is a choice which it often is) and it isn't smaller. I tend to think a veg curry that's reheated and kept warm is better than some random piece of fish or meat. If I order just vegetarian it seems to just be some variation of pasta, which I'm not keen on anyway. Flying back and forth from Zambia meant there was always a good proportion of Indians who didn't seem to know they could order a special meal. The looks I got when I was served some curry smelling food and they had some less than appetising standard meal made me feel smug.
I am keenly interested in the report on Air France Business Class, particularly since the worst -- no, shittiest meal I ever had on a plane was thrown at me by an Air France stewardess as I traveled in Premium Economy. No, I don't forgive. One of my favorite guilty pleasures is watching the Paul Lucas videos reviewing airlines, routes, etc. He recently reviewed Air France's Michelin-starred A350 Business Class from Paris to Washington, DC, which left me swooning with desire. People! Forget boutique hotels, views of Venice's canals or of the Eiffel Tower.. Book yourself into a garret with straw on the floor and use the money you've saved on lodging to ease your ass into a Business Class fold-flat long haul flight!
I'm starting to look at flights to Italy, prices seem to be coming down. I often check to see what a business-class price premium would be—not that I'm ever going to buy one of those seats as they cost 3-4x as much as a steerage seat and it comes out to over a hundred USD more per hour seat time for the privilege. I've had pretty good luck with meals on plebe Air France, nothing horrible yet. My favorite is probably Virgin Atlantic but they no longer seems to be flying from Seattle.