Cast your eye back to 2008, a full nine years ago. The global financial crisis was in full swing and here in Ireland businesses were closing and people were beginning to become redundant.

My own redundancy occurred the following year which meant I was still spending happily on business class flights in 2008. As I was writing flight reviews even then, I decided to delve into the archive and give you a flavour of what airlines were serving that year.

Malev Business Class

Hungarian airline Malev used to be a member of the oneworld alliance before it went bankrupt. Service on the airline in business class was very good, while the meals were okay. Here is breakfast Dublin to Budapest.

In 2008, I wrote – “Fatty bacon, an ‘egg omelette’ hash browns, two croissants (“Take as many as you like”, was the refrain from the bread basket), strawberry yoghurt, strawberry jam, and a fruit salad. Coffee was also served. The breakfast was adequate and nice, however the €9 Aer Lingus breakfast leaves it for dead for both taste, quality and presentation.”

Looking at it now, I think it looks fine. Clearly my dislike for the egg portion of most airline breakfast meals is a long standing tradition! Below is the return from Budapest to Dublin on a dinner flight.

Here is what I said about it at the time. “The starter on the left is salmon and some other thing with capers – it was lovely. Chicken, pasta and carrots was the main in a lovely sauce. Gorgeous bread, a decadent chocolate mousse dessert, and cheeses and grapes to finish. I love blue cheese and this didn’t disappoint!”

Good to see that Malev left me with a great impression at the end. It is a shame when airlines go out of business, especially when I have fond memories of them.

An Interlude In World Traveller Plus at British Airways

It’s not all business class all the time. I upgraded to World Traveller Plus on a flight between London Heathrow and New York when connecting to Cunard’s QE2 to Southampton. At the time I think the meals were the same as Economy and here is lunch.

My comment from 2008 on the meal? “It’s Chicken Terragon with beans, potatoes and carrots, a salad, Summer Fruits Trifle, bread and butter, water, and a chocolate. The meal was great tasting, very filling and very good for lunch, so I was very happy. Of course, we were also given as much wine as we wanted – I had a forgettable red wine to accompany it. Notice plastic utensils, of course, flying to the USA!”

At the time there was a second service prior to landing. It is usually some kind of afternoon tea and this is what was served to those in World Traveller Plus.

Strangely, I didn’t pass remark on it. I merely described it – “Traditional lemonade, a chocolate brownie, two sandwiches (chicken and rocket & cheese and tomato), a piece of fresh pineapple and of course coffee or tea.” It can’t have been too bad or else I would have had more to say. For comparison, here is the 2016 version of World Traveller Plus. Much has changed!

Royal Jordanian Crown Class Impresses In 2008!

I confess I have a soft spot for Royal Jordanian. Each of my flights with them astonished me with excellent service and superb food. I really wish I could fly them some more. Meals at the time were served off the cart.

All the elements for the meal are on the cart and you literally pick the things you want. The crew plate it up in front of you and there you have it. I think it’s a great idea and it impressed me immensely! I chose a bit of everything as you can see below.

Only a little comment on this, but positive. “Breakfast was nice, I particularly liked the sausages, they were great!”

Meanwhile, Between Dublin and London…

Aer Lingus offer an Irish Breakfast on board and it is the same now as it was then. I always buy it when flying in the morning as it is okay value and very tasty. Yes, buy on board but I hear that before BOB this was the European Premier Class breakfast. I still maintain it needs tomato sauce with it!

Here are my comments from the time. “As usual, I had the Irish Breakfast for 8 euro, something I look forward to, and always have when flying Aer Lingus. Why? It’s damned tasty and good value for money! As you can see, black pudding, white pudding, sausages, potato, bacon, tomato, bread, butter, marmalade, juice and coffee. The breakfast of champions!”

Very clear that I like that meal, isn’t it? British Airways operated a service between Dublin and London Gatwick before they pulled out of Ireland entirely for a number of years. Prices were always low, so being a man of limited means meant I was always on it!

Variations on this meal continued through to this year when the food changed. Here are my comments – “Chicken Tikka, Salad with Chilli Lime and Lemongrass dressing, bread, butter, water, a chocolate treat for dessert – and real cutlery! The bread was hot, chosen from the basket presented by the crew. The rest of the meal is cold, but certainly plenty of food for such a short sector.”

How About Some More Jordanian Hospitality?

Bangkok to Amman on the Royal Jordanian Airbus A310 also featured some really good meals. Here is the starter that is served on board.

“A lovely vegetable salad at the top. The flight attendant came around with two bowls – and I chose thousand island dressing which she dolloped on with a spoon. The rest of the starter was gloriously tasting, I have to say. Full marks as always for RJs food!” Next up the main course.

“Gorgeous beef without an ounce of fat on it, mushrooms, vegetables, carrots and rice. The champagne was Moet.” As usual I am liking my food and I was happy.

A Couple More Of Course…

Here are some more from Royal Jordanian for your enjoyment. You can see why I have such good memories of my flights with them, can’t you? A starter on a flight from Amman to Budapest.

“Above is the Poached Salmon, Duck Breast, Mozzarella Terrine, along with salad and breads. Dessert, salad and cheese is also present for later on during the courses. As usual the food was sublime.” Next came the main course on the same flight.

“This was the Grilled Hammour Sayadeya. I’d never had it before, and it was well worth the try. It was amazingly delicious! Also, more bread has been served. The French white wine accompanied it perfectly and I was replete with foody goodness!”

Last Ones, I Promise!

Finally we travel from Budapest to Amman on the Royal Jordanian Embraer 175. Once again mostly pleased is the final verdict. This is the starter course.

“It was very good, I have to say – but I have a French housemate, so me and pate like each other.” The main course comes next and it is also eye pleasingly good. The choice was between Goose or Veal and I took the Veal much to the crews surprise for some reason.

“It was unbelievably amazing! The meat was cooked to perfection, the vegetables more-ish, and basically I enjoyed every bite. The cheese to finish was a bit strange (read: plastic) but the cake was nice.”

Overall Thoughts

It is interesting to see how things have changed over the years. In some cases it has not as Aer Lingus still serve the same breakfast today. British Airways World Traveller Plus has improved as it now offers part of the meal from the Club World dishes.

Malev is gone and I have not had the pleasure of travelling with Royal Jordanian in a long time. I really should burn some Avios and head on down to Amman again as I really enjoyed visiting there.

What do you think of the meals above? Should we go back to the past or should the past remain in the past? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

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Featured image by Laurent ERRERA from L’Union France via Wikimedia Commons.