These days, simply getting an airplane breakfast, or any food on an airplane, can feel like a luxury, especially if you’re sitting in an economy seat. But gourmet meals are standard in first class—and airplane breakfast in first class is a whole different ball game, with a completely separate set of standards for what is edible. First class is a place where asking the flight attendant for a fried egg or a dish of caviar is par for the course, where passengers are served multi-course gourmet meals designed by award-winning chefs, where the watery fruit and syrupy yogurt most travelers are used to eating would not fly. These gourmet offerings in first class become even more amazing once you know how inflight meals are prepared, requiring boatloads of dry ice and careful attempts at pre-cooking and reheating at 35,000 feet.
Despite the technical challenges, many of the menus offered in first class would look at home in any high-end restaurant. A lot of the dishes are actually seasonal, so many of the airlines noted that the current menu items will likely be quite different in a matter of months. But all six of these menus show how decadent, delicious, and memorable a first class airplane breakfast can be when you’re lucky enough to be sitting in the front of the plane.
There’s complimentary Champagne when you’re seated in first class on Emirates, of course, but the boozy breakfast options don’t end there. On Emirates flights from New York City to Dubai, you can also order a bloody mary; a breakfast martini, which is gin shaken over ice with marmalade, Cointreau, and orange; or an espresso martini made with coffee tequila with a shot of espresso and Amaretto foam. As far as the food is concerned, you can get scrambled eggs with chives, served with a slice of sourdough toast and veal sausages. There’s also French toast with poached peaches and vanilla mascarpone, if you’re more of a baller with a sweet tooth.
Folks taking first class on Lufthansa out of the United States or Canada can get breakfast anytime, like freshly prepared scrambled eggs with grilled bacon and chives. There’s also fresh orange juice, Genoa salami, emmental and brie cheese, a huge selection of pastries and breads, and, of course, Nutella.
Virgin America prides itself on updating its menus quarterly with a focus on using fresh and sustainable ingredients, so first class flyers this quarter can expect a tropical breakfast, starting with a smoothie shot and featuring a selection of entrées like poached eggs with pineapple-cilantro salsa, herb-roasted fingerling potatoes, and a fresh fruit salad. The coffee comes from San Francisco’s Philz. Virgin America doesn’t skimp on the snacks either, having partnered with New York City’s Dean & Deluca for a gourmet snack selection.
Etihad Airways has an inflight chef program for first class customers, featuring over 100 classically-trained chefs who offer restaurant-style service in the sky. So on the flight from New York City to Abu Dhabi, chefs can cook eggs to order, from fried, scrambled, poached, even soft- or hard-boiled. On other flights, the inflight chefs can prepare a full English breakfast with sausage, tomato, mushrooms, and baked beans. There’s also an even higher-end version of the English breakfast for the even more refined palate, served with king oyster mushrooms, hash browns, and tomato.
The menu for JetBlue Mint is full of gourmet meal options from beloved New York City restaurants, like Saxon + Parole, Blue Marble Ice Cream, and Brooklyn Roasting Company. On-board wine selections are also sourced from small vineyards in California’s Napa Valley by a staff wine specialist (yes, a real thing). For brunch on eastbound flights this summer, there’s a cheese & chive biscuit sandwich and a creamy polenta with artichoke, tomato caper sauce, and feta cheese. On westbound flights, first class customers can enjoy a zucchini and three-cheese feta frittata or a red wine poached pear with Tahitian vanilla yogurt and toasted sesame granola.
Japan’s ANA—short for All Nippon Airways—has started serving matcha in first class, served in ceramic tea bowls. The breakfast-specific options are somewhat limited, but there are a bevy of anytime snacks available, like udon noodles garnished with deep-fried tofu or Ippudo ramen with pork broth, that would make for a hearty breakfast option before landing.