Long gone are the days of ice sculptures and crepe suzette served up as a matter of course in first class cabins on airliners.
But what is presented to premium passengers can still rival some top hotels or restaurants, and can often act as a good barometer for the health of an airline's fortunes.
"When times get tough, food is one of the costs airlines can cut without jeopardizing safety," says Andreas Weber, general manager of airline catering company, Gate Gourmet.
"It has changed back and forth (over time); airlines go through crises," he says. "(Today) more airlines are investing substantially in their first and business class products. Making people comfortable in big seats, everyone is doing that already, but what is left is the catering experience."
Erich Seifert, head of production at the facility that employs over 300 people, is often faced with demands for a particular meal for a first class customer at short notice.
"The customer is always right, we have to make it," he says, noting that special requests from airlines can come less than a couple of hours before a flight's departure.
Being able to react to last-minute requests for wagyu beef or whatever form the fancy of a passenger takes is down to a strict process - from taking delivery of fresh ingredients in the morning to rolling out the meals on trolleys, all plated up on trays ready to be served on an evening flight.
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