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Delta Serves Up a Surprisingly Fantastic In-Flight Steak on My Flight From Atlanta to Mexico City

Ah, the in-flight steak; a staple of first class travel. When many think of the jet-age or the golden age of flying, images of well-dressed couples indulging in steak and lobster at 30,000 feet come to mind. However, anyone who’s flown in the past two or decades will tell you that the in-flight steak is, typically, anything but luxurious.

The in-flight steak is usually conceived out of subpar cuts of meat in a warehouse near the airport. After it’s grilled or seared, the steak is then frozen and then loaded onto a truck. From the truck, the frozen steak is loaded onto an aircraft where a flight attendant will load it into an oven where it will be reheated beyond recognition. From the oven, it’s straight to your mouths. Nearly every in-flight steak has the same consistency, no matter what the cut of meat: dry, chewy, flaky, and bland.

Delta One beef fillet, Sydney to Los Angeles

Delta One beef fillet, Sydney to Los Angeles

However, my streak of awful in-flight steaks recently came to an end on my recent flight from Atlanta to Mexico City on Delta. Here’s what made the steak so enjoyable.

Background, Delta from Atlanta to Mexico City

Hoping to secure Medallion status for 2018, I made one last trip from St. Louis to Mexico City with stops in Detriot and Atlanta. The fare for the one-way ticket was just $380 in first class. Combine a very attractive first class fare with my $200 statement credit thanks to my Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express and this final trip of 2017 was a no-brainer.

My flight from Atlanta to Mexico City departed fairly late, however, it still featured meal service. First class was full after nearly ten main cabin passengers were operationally upgraded to the forward cabin as the flight was initially oversold.

Delta Air Lines Boeing 737-700 from Atlanta to Mexico City

Delta Air Lines Boeing 737-700 from Atlanta to Mexico City

Once the aircraft made it to 10,000 feet, the purser came through the aisle to take meal orders. Though extremely polite, I found the purser to be a little unprofessional.

When asked multiple times what the appetizer was or what the entrees were served with, she said, “I’m going to be honest, I have no clue.” She also referred to the entree options as simply just “the chicken” and “the beef.” One passenger asked how the beef was prepared and she responded, “I’m not sure, like a filet I think.”

Coach Passengers Received Meal Priority Over Paying First Class Passenger

One thing I found interesting was that, though they were operationally upgraded from the main cabin, the flight attendant treated the orders of the operational upgrades the same as paid first class passengers. This actually meant that the last first class passenger (who happened to have been a paying passenger) was left with only one option: the chicken.

In my opinion, non-Medallion and non-paid upgrades as a result of an oversell situation should receive their first choice only after all paying passengers order. When I fly non-revenue stand-by and a meal is served, I always tell the flight attendant to take my order last or give my entree to a paying passenger should there not be enough of that option. If I had been that passenger stuck with the chicken, I wouldn’t have been happy.

Meal Service, Delta Air Lines from Atlanta to Mexico City

Luckily, I received my first choice entree: the beef. I almost chose the chicken as I’ve had a poor track record of steak on planes. Still, I went against my better judgment and ordered the steak. Given the fact that the flight was just three hours, pretty late, and operated by a rather dated Boeing 737-700 with just a few onboard ovens, I fully expected the steak to be overcooked and bland.

Before the entree was served, an appetizer was brought out. I was actually surprised that more than one course was offered on such a short flight. The appetizer consisted of mashed potatoes and imitation crab. Additionally, a selection of bread was served. The appetizer was fairly tasty and filling.

The Appetizer, Delta Flight from Atlanta to Mexico City

The Appetizer, Delta Flight from Atlanta to Mexico City

Finally, the main course was served. To my surprise, the beef entree was, in fact, a filet. I was expecting a small beef medallion, not a full filet. The steak was a large and fairly premium cut of meat. The beef filet was served with a sweet potato casserole and vegetables. Disclaimer, though the photos aren’t very attractive, everything tasted phenomenal.

The Fantastic In-Flight Steak on My Delta Flight from Atlanta to Mexico City

The Fantastic In-Flight Steak on My Delta Flight from Atlanta to Mexico City

The steak was cooked great. Finally, I was enjoying a steak in-flight that didn’t taste like rubber and that wasn’t chewy. The steak was flavorful, cooked medium rare, and savory. The steak was served with a savory gravy sauce and was topped with a tasty spread.

I managed to eat the entire steak in under five minutes. I’m sure to my neighbor, what I was doing looked less like eating and more like inhaling. I finished off my fantastic steak dinner with a sweet caramel crumble dessert and a cup of coffee.

A Great In-Flight Steak, Overall

It might not look like much but I really can’t convey how great this steak tasted. A good in-flight steak is so hard to come by, finally sitting down to a tasty and well-cooked steak was like a dream. I have no idea why this steak was so much better than the ones I’ve had on Delta before but it just was. Additionally, I also enjoyed the appetizer and the dessert on this flight. The steak was good while it lasted but I’m sure my next in-flight steak will be as rubbery, dry, and bland as I remember.

Have you ever had a tasty in-flight steak? Which airlines serve the best first class steak?