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A Peek at Continental Business Class & First Class Food (Photos)

Updated on December 19, 2011

Whenever I walk by the First and Business Class seats on a flight, I wonder just how much I'll be missing out- especially when it comes to meals. Sure, there is a bit more legroom in First Class, plus the seats are closer to the exit and the section has a dedicated bathroom, but all people ever talk about is the FOOD.

It was, of course, the food that I really paid attention to the first time I flew First Class. Since I thought you, too might wonder what they're munching on up there, I documented each and every morsel that was served to us.

For reference, these meals were served over a series of four different Continental flights between San Francisco and Houston and Houston and Cancun/Merida in Mexico, so you're seeing a mixture of domestic and international meals (sometimes that makes a difference), but none of these meals was served on a flight that lasted for longer than two hours. Those sitting in Economy on these flights were only served drinks and given the option to purchase pre-packaged meals.

Oh look. Banana and some pink gooey stuff.
Oh look. Banana and some pink gooey stuff.


To be honest, I was dissappointed to be flying First Class in the morning, since breakfast is rarely a fancy affair.

They most certainly did not serve anything particularly special for breakfast when I flew in First Class, however what WAS remarkable, at least when it comes to planes, is that we were served with REAL PLATES AND UTENSILS! How incredible! How posh! No plastic clamshell containers for us!

At any rate, the first First Class breakfast I was served consisted of:

  • Milk and cereal
  • Yogurt (I believe they tried to make it strawberry flavored, but I tasted like pink. Whatever that is.)
  • Fresh fruit

The second breakfast (which was served on a flight out of Merida) was also standard fare:

  • A croissant-like pastry
  • Yogurt (with coconut shavings)
  • Fresh fruit

I was not a fan of either type of yogurt we were given. They were too sweet and I'm not a fan of people tossing coconut into things all willy-nilly. That said, neither of these breakfast flights were departing from regions particularly well known for good yogurt.

Breakfast: Continental-Style

Vegetarian option FAIL
Vegetarian option FAIL
.... but there *were* some other things to munch on!
.... but there *were* some other things to munch on!


Since meals are the most popular perk given on First Class flights (or at least the most pleasant-to-talk-about benefit), it makes sense that airlines feel obligated to serve food even on really short flights. This is where snacks come in!

Typically, first class and business class snacks consist of fresh fruit and cheese. On my Continental flights, they served a cheese, veggie, and meat plate (with crackers, fruit, and Milano cookies), which is lovely... unless you're a vegetarian.

Now, I could have stated before flying that I am a vegetarian, and I would have then probably been served something different, but I learned on an international Business Class flight some time back that vegetarian food requests mean that you get served economy class food on Business Class plates. I was having NONE of that.

What I had to do was pick around the meat and miss out on most of the mealtime fun. That said, the cheese was nice, and all the other carbs were perfectly fine.

Have you flown first class before?

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Lunch on one of these First Class flights consisted of two options:

  • A chicken salad
  • A ham and cheese salad

When I flew on an international United flight in Business class, I noticed that all meals included at least one vegetarian option in the menu (and yes, there was an actual paper menu). This was sadly not the case on the Continental flights I took, so I just had a salad... with nothing.

Don't get me wrong- I can eat pounds and pounds of roughage, and this roughage was lovely... but one would think they would have at least some protein on hand for vegetarians!

Accompanying the meal was another bowl of fruit (they REALLY like giving out fruit) and a gross-looking brownie that I wouldn't touch with a 30 foot pole. But again... REAL PLATES!!!


Freshly Baked Cookies!

To be honest, I was dreadfully underwhelmed by the food served to us in First Class..... until I began to smell the irresistibly comforting aroma of baking cookies.

That's right, near the end of the two longer flights I took, they baked and served cookies. The first time, they made chocolate chip cookies. The second time, it was oatmeal raisin.

I don't care how disappointing the other meals were... all they had to do was shove a warm cookie in my face and I was one happy camper.

Of course, I have memories of being served a freshly baked cookie in economy (GASP!) on a flight to Hawaii when I was a kid... so I don't think this is an exclusively First Class privilege... or at least, it didn't used to be. That said, on these flights, cookies were only served those who sat up front. It must have been a real drag to be sitting in Economy and smelling the cookies baking. Now that I think of it, it must have been pure torture!

Have Your Say!

What is the most alluring thing about First Class and Business Class?

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Worth It?

If you were considering whether to fly First Class just because you want good food... don't. Choose First because you want:

  • More legroom
  • Free movies and a better viewing experience on long flights
  • Less contact with the unwashed masses

Yes, the food is better, and you get served on real plates, but there are two very important things you should consider:

  1. Food on an airplane is going not going to taste as good... because you're on an airplane! The noise and the vibrations dull your senses, so everything tastes slightly less good.
  2. Food you can bring on your own both costs less AND may very likely be healthier and tastier. Plus, it'll be exactly what you want!

It has been a privilege to have the opportunity to fly First Class and Business Class... I have always wondered what it is like, and now I know! That said, I would never personally pay extra money to enjoy the privilege.

If you really want to feel comfort and luxury, choose a good airline. I recommend flying Virgin, getting wireless on the flight, and bringing your own food. You'll spend a lot less, and be just as- if not more- comfortable!


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    • SieberSounds profile image

      Ellie Shields 

      3 years ago from USA

      Looking at this now, I'm far more interested in the snacks they provided rather than the meals. I've never flown first class before, so it was interesting to read about your experience!

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      We fly First and Business now because of the flat beds that enable us to sleep. Often, we let go of the food so we can sleep except in Turkish Airlines and Japanese, Korean, Singapore, Thai, and Lufthansa where food is great.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Kick the tires and light the fires, problem offlliaciy solved!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      mamouni μου αρέσει πολύ το nick σου. lex_luthor06 τρελό rescpet rescpet rescpet rescpet RESPECT RESPECT RESPECT! ΕΊΣΑΙ ότι λέει ο Billzouk. μπεεεbill μπεεεε! :-)neverlandean όντων αξίζει. :-)cookie καθόλου μπλιαχ! μπλιέεεεχ!

    • HollieT profile image


      6 years ago from Manchester, United Kingdom

      The best in flight meal, particularly whilst I've been vegetarian, was with Emirates and I was flying economy. The starter was a fresh fruit cocktail (including mango which is my favourite fruit) and the main was a green lentil dahl with spicy rice and a side salad, followed by a lightly spiced lemon pie. The complementary small bottle of wine of choice was also a very nice addition, Rioja in my case, but probably a really bad idea given it was a seven hour flight. Nice though, nevertheless.

    • Simone Smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Simone Haruko Smith 

      7 years ago from San Francisco

      Ugh- those middle seats on trans-continental flights are the WORST! I can commiserate, for sure.

    • VirginiaLynne profile image

      Virginia Kearney 

      7 years ago from United States

      Love the great commentary. I've only flown 1st class a couple of times and don't remember the food. I did actually get some very nice meals going to China on United in economy class, but you have to put up with a very, very long trip for that! Especially bad when you are in the middle of a row of 6 people!

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 

      7 years ago from California

      2006 "The Holiday" was the only movie I in the theater. On the worst trip ever between SFO and Paris the only movie I cared to watch was "The Holiday". Watched it 2 and a half times. Every time Cameron Diaz lay down on her flat 1st class bed I got mad. Will never take sleeping horizontally for granted.

      Agree with your opinion of 1st class food. I ordered kosher meals one an economy International fight. They were wonderful. Nothing touched. They gave me salmon though. Voted up, useful, interesting and funny.

    • Simone Smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Simone Haruko Smith 

      8 years ago from San Francisco

      Gosh melbel, that does sound pretty good!

      United is a bit more comfortable than Southwest on domestic flights... though noting beats JetBlue, and my personal favorite, Virgin!

    • melbel profile image

      Melanie Palen 

      8 years ago from Midwest, USA

      The best meal I've ever had on a plane was on Malev airlines on an overnight from New York. It's slightly unfair because I traded seats with someone so I could be with my friend in first class. It was three course, with lamb being the main course. It wasn't fantastic, but it was really good considering it was airline food.

      On Southwest, you have to pay for all your drinks, but the flights are really cheap. I think you get free peanuts or crackers or something.

      Flying Domestic, I prefer United because it's a lot better in comfort than Southwest. They also have the air traffic control channel I can listen to which always lulls me to sleep.

    • Simone Smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Simone Haruko Smith 

      8 years ago from San Francisco

      Hahaa, well said, Patty!!

      And thanks livelonger! Presentation really is the only difference, it seems. I'll take wireless over real silverware any day!

    • livelonger profile image

      Jason Menayan 

      8 years ago from San Francisco

      Great pics and commentary. I've flown first class exactly once (previous employer, their policy on transatlantic flights!) and did not notice the food being any better, except for the presentation. The hot cookies were nice. But, like most of your readers so far, I think the added room makes it appealing (not enough, mind you, for me to ever consider ponying up 3-10x as much for a ticket!).

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish MS 

      8 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      That looks like mediocre vending machine food, like we used to have in the State Library of Ohio lunchroom - until they removed the lunchroom.

    • Simone Smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Simone Haruko Smith 

      8 years ago from San Francisco

      Thanks K9keystrokes! I really do believe that one can be JUST as comfortable and spend a fraction of the money by choosing Virgin and brown bagging it.

      I WISH, leroy64! I bet SOME airlines still do serve cookies the masses... I think I was flying Hawaiian when they served them in Economy. I hope they still do!

      I agree with you, Debby Bruck. Mediocre food and a bit of extra space is not worth the extra cost.

      Thanks THEHuG5!! I hope you get a free upgrade someday just so you can give it all a try.

      leahlefler, Subway subs would have been better than the food that was served on these flights, for sure! I honestly wonder why they don't let chains do the catering.

      Yeah, First is pretty pointless, xethonxq. You haven't missed out at all.

      Hahaa, things really go downhill after airline ticket prices went out from government control, 50. Unless one is on Airforce One or something, I'd not bother flying these days unless I absolutely HAD to!

      I hope you'll get the opportunity to do so, TransferAmerica! Thanks for the comement.

      Hahaa, if I had brought my own food, I still would have eaten it in First Class, too, Healthy Pursuits. Though... for the sake of documentation, I decided not to pack a snack for once!

    • Healthy Pursuits profile image

      Karla Iverson 

      8 years ago from Oregon

      You're so right. I've brought my own food for years now when I fly. Once I ended up in first class because they overbooked a flight and I negotiated a first class ticket. I thought I'd have a good food experience, because the food is definitely better than we get back in the cattle car. But when I saw what was being served, I still ate my own food.

    • 50 Caliber profile image

      50 Caliber 

      8 years ago from Arizona

      Great write, on a topic that I've wondered about but not enough to pay for. I swore off flying when I sat in the lavatory for half a flight to get some comfort. Oh it was American Airlines and their 3 seat wide starboard and 2 seat wide port side stagger. I remember the good old days of cheap fuel few seats and smoking. The real first class is up front in the cock pit with lazy boy recliners and video games where the stewardess wakes you up to turn off auto pilot and land while enjoying a tequila Shooter, great hub, voted up, 50

    • xethonxq profile image


      8 years ago

      Very interesting hub. I've never flown first class...mainly because I'm cheap (and broke). I find that I'm not surprised about the differences. Seems a bit pretentious to me. Thanks for the hub Simone!!

    • leahlefler profile image

      Leah Lefler 

      8 years ago from Western New York

      I have always wondered what happened in that first class cabin! The food looks "OK," but I suppose airline food is still airline food. Too bad they couldn't serve a salad like the Strawberry Poppyseed at Panera (has pecans in it, at least) or add a cheese plate for some protein! We usually fly Southwest (cheaper tickets), and they don't really have a first class. We're the family lugging Subway subs onto the plane!

    • THEHuG5 profile image


      8 years ago

      Thanks for this hub it was a really enjoyable read. I've never flown first class but I have flown on long international flights and I know how horrible the food can be. Nice pics, keep up the good work!

    • Debby Bruck profile image

      Debby Bruck 

      8 years ago

      Hi Simone ~ Your photos are super, but sometimes good looking on the outside may not be worth the price, especially as "food critic" the quality and taste did not live up to expectations. Besides, a few hundred extra dollars for a little plate of food, some leg room and roomier seats may not be affordable.

      Soon the airlines will not let us bring our own food on the planes the way things are going. This was a fun read. Blessings, Debby

    • leroy64 profile image

      Brian L. Powell 

      8 years ago from Dallas, Texas (Oak Cliff)

      Great Hub. I had forgotten that airlines served food. Were there any nachos on the menu?

      Cookies are so easy, and relatively easy, to make. I think it would be really rude not to include the entire plane. It's not like they take up a lot of room or weigh much. Imagine the public relations bonanza of being the airline that serves cookies to all.

    • K9keystrokes profile image

      India Arnold 

      8 years ago from Northern, California

      I really like your parting advice on flying with a good quality airline and supplying your own food. Even as those cookies in first class do smell and taste yummy, in today's unique economy you make absolute perfect sense!

      Great topic!

      HubHugs and happy Holidays~



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