Tray Table, No Reservations

Now, dining at 35,000 feet (in the front cabin) can compete with fine restaurants on the ground. OK, stay with me on this, I will explain. There is a new kind of culinary competition among airlines; even economy international passengers can be treated to more than four salty peanuts per flight. After all, they have to keep you amused for 8 hours somehow. Airlines must figure that their first class and business class passengers have higher expectations for those costly fares, and demand more from inflight dining service by well trained flight attendants. Here’s a look at what the top international airlines have on the menu. 

Gulf Air's first-class meal service was recently rated the best in the world as they are the only airline with a chef on board. Gulf Air’s professional chef oversees every aspect of preparation. Top-quality dishes like honey-glazed quail on a sweet potato cake or Arabic spiced veal ragout. Hamburger, probably not.

Singapore Airline's first class cabin passengers choose between Dom Perignon or Krug Champagne. Menu options include "book the cook" custom dishes personnaly prepared for you with select choices from 11 cities around the globe. My favorite item from the 11 menu offerings at the JFK departure city  -- of course, Roast Long Island duck with natural jus, roasted vegetables, and red-skin potatoes. 

Jet Airways’s first class passengers can chose from a number of authentic Indian dishes; such as chicken breast in cashew cream sauce with a trio of lentils, and chappati and naan breads. Each dish is served on hand-painted Bernardaud porcelain dinnerware with five-courses, beverages served in Mikasa crystal. Expecting BBQ?

Swissair SWISS Taste of Switzerland pampers you with culinary specialities from the country’s cantons with Michelin-star chefs to create more Swiss-style dishes, including choices off a seven-course menu of warm and cold dishes.

Malaysia Airlines entrées are served on fine Wedgewood with choices from Kosher, Halal, high-fiber, gluten-free, and vegetarian meals. Choice of lamb shank with Sarawak black pepper sauce, or baked North Atlantic black cod, or Malaysian satay. Wash it all down with South African Rooibos tea, designer water from Ty Nant, and Blue Mountain coffee. Sorry, no Sanka.

Lufthansa's first-class meal service stands apart from the rest because passengers can choose the nationality of their menu including Chinese, Japanese and Indian as well as the time at which they eat. Ring the bell. Lufthansa's meal service by top chefs who update the menu every two months.

Qatar Airways, enjoy the 5, no 10-course meal that normally includes caviar, lobster, prawns, Arabic mezzas, fine chocolates, and cheese platters. One main-course is the pan-fried chicken stuffed with feta and tomatoes.

Thai Airways, choose from lobster thermidor, rack of lamb with rosemary sauce, and olive-marinated salmon with herb sauce. 

What’s missing from dining in the sky list? Shamefully, US legacy airlines. I guess they’re busy counting the peanuts…