JetBlue Trials Five Fresh Food Options On Board, I Taste Them All

JetBlue, Meals

Way back in 2010, JetBlue rolled out a bunch of snack boxes, and I was less than impressed. JetBlue is an airline that should be able to do better than just a run of the mill snack box.

Well, this Tuesday JetBlue began a 3 route test (JFK – LAX, Long Beach, and SFO) of new fresh food options. There is a turkey croissant with a muffin and fruit for breakfast, quinoa salad or roast beef sandwich for lunch/dinner, and antipasto or yogurt all day long. Caroline Ramsey, Manager of Product Development in charge of the buy on board program, flew in from JFK to Long Beach that day to see how everything was going. When she arrived, she joined me in a private tasting where we could sample all the options.

I was not disappointed. Take a look at this 7m08s video of my tasting to see for yourself. (Yeah, I know it’s long but there were five things to review…)

The food was good, so now we just have to hope that it does well enough that JetBlue can roll this out to more routes. The initial test is 2 weeks long. After that, food will continue on these routes at least until September but they will start trying to vary what they stock by flight depending upon demand. Eventually the hope is that this will go on all transcontinental routes and then on longer domestic flights as well. But we’ll have to see how the program does.

Anyone have any plans to fly on one of these routes soon? If so, chime in with your thoughts. JetBlue is really paying close attention to feedback to see what they could be tweaking. You can probably hear some of that from Caroline in the video. (She was taking notes about what I thought and asked a lot of questions. I’m sure she did the same thing to all her fellow passengers on her flight out to Long Beach.)

I’m just glad to see JetBlue putting a fresh option out there. Now if only they had ovens onboard…

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38 comments on “JetBlue Trials Five Fresh Food Options On Board, I Taste Them All

  1. How are they storing the sandwiches onboard the aircraft? Is there enough refrigeration? I thought JetBlue had a minimalist galley. I assume they have to carry enough sandwiches/boxes for the round trip or are they being supplied at both ends?

    1. BarryATL – The food is packed into standard carts and they have dry ice onboard. They are being supplied at both ends with fresh food.

  2. I am not sure about a turkey sandwich for breakfast. The roast beef looks really good, and while I am not usually a salad person, that quinoa salad looks excellent

  3. Brett, I think you should be trying this up in the air. I think I have heard that your palate and taste buds are inhibited in altitude and so food needs to be prepared with that in mind. Something may taste good/bad on the ground, and taste better/worse up in the air.

    Good to see JetBlue stepping it up a little more – are they going to include this in their international flights?

    1. OC – We actually talked about that, but I cut it out of the video during edits. Caroline says they specifically went with food that had strong flavor so that it would still work well when taste buds are dulled at altitude. Hopefully someone here has had the chance to try it in the air and will comment, but with my wife giving birth in the next week, I’m not going anywhere.

      There are no plans for international flights at this point but I would think some of the longer ones would get it down the line. It probably becomes much harder to cater coming out of those destinations, especially smaller Caribbean ones.

  4. I’m always kind of befuddeled by fresh food options on domestic flights, even for transcons. Especially as more and more airports get their concessions up to par and improve beyond whatever Sysco sends them.

  5. Similar to the comment by OC, were you tasting them when they were actually fresh, as opposed to the lag time associated with actually being served them on board? I imagine that makes a difference.

    1. DRG – In LA, the food is prepared in kitchens near LAX and then trucked down. So there was lag time before it got to me. In fact, there was a lot of condensation in the boxes because of the drive time down, and that should be fixed when it’s on the airplane. But of course, the food would have a couple hours more time to sit around before being served on an airplane.

  6. Why do only the transcons and “longer flights” get the food – speaking to all airlines here. Back in the “good old days” a meal was served on every flight except for the absolute shortest. I recall a HOT meal on flights that were only 90 minutes of flying time. Now I realize those days are long gone but I just want the option.

    For example yesterday I cleared customs at DTW and had to immediately run to get my connection to MSP. I hadn’t eaten in a long time but there was absolutely zero time for finding anything in the terminal. Since the flight was short Delta didn’t offer squat on that flight and soon as we arrived I was running to a meeting. My stomach was grumbling by the end of day and the only “free” time I had to eat all day was while in the air, but in this case Delta missed an opportunity to sell me an overpriced sandwich and cookie – or whatever. Take note.

    1. The problem as I see it is customers like you are few and far between. The reality is most people grab something to go from a kiosk, and eat on board, or have been camping out at the airport and have time to get something sit-down. There simply ISN’T a large market for anything but alcoholic beverages on board.

    2. A – Sean is right. There just aren’t a lot of people who want to buy food on short hops so it’s not worth the pain to do it. But JetBlue does still have all its free snacks even on those short flights, so that would have helped you at least get fed something.

  7. Given that it’s widely known that food tastes differently in the the air (due to difference in air pressure, air quality, humidity, ambient smells, and, scientifically proven, cabin noise), I’m afraid this on-the-ground taste test is irrelevant.

    Even so, jetBlue is to be commended for going against the trend in the airlines, and actually IMPROVING food!

    BTW, it would be great if you could do the test in the air!

    1. Actually, it would be fun if JetBlue would send you on a flight to do another taste test of the same box meals. It would be interesting to see if there is a lot of difference. Also, it would be a cool video taking the review of each on the ground followed by the review you did in the air.

  8. Since airplane food is at least made a day ahead of time and need to be stored at corrent temps both on the ground and in the air, a sandwich isn’t going to taste all that great. Buy a Subway sandwich today and put it in the fridge until tomorrow and you’ll notice a taste difference. Personally I would have had each part of the sandwich kept separate and then you ‘build’ it yourself when you get it. That would keep bread from getting soggy from the wet meat and lettuce.

    Sandwiches on an airplane are just high priced vending machine sandwiches, remember those.

  9. All of this stuff is terrible. All of it. Its packed so full of preservatives that it most likely could sit without being refrigerated for months.

    That being said, when I fly long haul domestic, or even shorter flights that cross my meal times, I just pack a lunch. Cheese, meat, and crackers all clear the tsa just fine. you get to eat what you like, on your own schedule. And you can actually bring real healthy food if you are in to that.

    its nice to have something available to buy on board, but since its all crap, I don’t know why they put so much effort into pretending its not. they should just sell combos, Doritos, some trail mix, basically the same as what’s in Hudson books.

    1. When’s the last time you bought something on board? I buy something probably 75% of the transcons I fly, and I think it’s pretty good, all in all.

  10. Brett, I think a new nickname for you is in order, not only are you cranky but you should also be known as “The Flying Gourmet.”

    For those who don’t get the reference, one of the early cooking shows on PBS was “The Galoping Gourmet,” hosted by Gram Kerr.

  11. **Side note-Off topic**

    I hope they can upgrade their TV’s before taking on fresh food and (maybe) ovens. It seems to be a constant thing when my TV doesn’t work. And using that to calm little ones makes me just fly someone cheaper since their TV’S don’t work. No TV and hearing about their wonderful wifi product not even on a single plane makes me choose US Air or Southwest.

  12. I’ll echo James Burke’s comment on the breakfast offering. It looks good, and I like turkey sandwiches, but that seems like an odd thing to be serving for breakfast. I would have suggested something more along the lines of an Egg McMuffin (not an actual Egg McMuffin, of course, but a jetBlue facsimile).

    1. MeanMeosh – They wanted to do an egg sandwich, but there’s one huge problem. They don’t have ovens. And a cold egg sandwich is nasty.

      1. I believe one of the US Airways buy-on-board breakfast options is also a turkey croissant (or something very similar), so it must be a thing?

        1. It seems like while pork is the breakfast meat of choice (bacon, sausage, etc.), turkey is commonly seen as a somewhat healthier pork substitute: turkey bacon, turkey sausage, etc. And it’s a kosher meat (though not likely certified kosher) so it would be more appealing to JetBlue’s Jewish passengers from New York.

  13. Good news for anyone who flies… but 8 minutes of watching Brett eat…OK I fast forwarded through the video…wonder what the food looks like? This reminds me of when I was a young reporter doing a story on Visa credit cards…no where in my story was there a picture of a visa credit card. Brett may be a one man band, photographer, sound engineer, reporter and grip but, it would have been nice if he either positioned the camera to actually show the food…or took shots before he devoured the food to use over his munching to show the food.

    1. drybean – Yeah, well I had the thing mounted and clearly it didn’t come out perfect. But I showed every piece of food for at least a little bit – you must have just fast forwarded through that.

  14. Believe this has been in the making for the last 12 months I think Flying Food Group is supplying them if I remember correctly. Nice change from the ambient snack boxes that they had!

  15. If you tasted all the food while still on the ground, your opinions aren’t very relevant, are they?

  16. just fyi, Quinoa is not Mediterranean,
    From Wikipedia: Quinoa (the name is derived from the Spanish spelling of the Quechua name kinwa or occasionally “Qin-wah”) originated in the Andean region of Ecuador, Bolivia, Colombia and Peru, where it was successfully domesticated 3,000 to 4,000 years ago for human consumption, though archaeological evidence shows a non-domesticated association with pastoral herding some 5,200 to 7,000 years ago.

  17. Good report,I am not sure about what taste difference there would be since peanuts still tast like peanuts up at 32k feet,I would have to agree that the breakfast sandwich and the sandwich itself needs some spread,mayo or mustard would be nice,those sandwiches can be very dry.

  18. *Glad someone asked about the prices. You should have mentioned them in your report.
    *Not only is tasting on the ground different from in the air, it seems to me it’s hard to be properly cranky when a rep of the airline is right there. Had she not been there, I suspect your comment about the breakfast turkey sandwich being dry would have been stronger. Speaking of that, from the little I could see, the croissant didn’t look like a real croissant.
    *The roast beef sandwich did look bready, as you mentioned; using a Parmesan mayo on a sandwich that has another cheese–cheddar–seems positively peculiar. Why not an herb mayo? Or mustard mayo? Or horseradish mayo?
    *The only one of these options I would consider buying is the quinoa salad. As someone else pointed out, sandwiches that have been refrigerated for a while just aren’t very good. The yogurt parfait is nice but a tad expensive.
    *The wooden spork is a cute idea but didn’t look very practical for some of the meals. Is the packaging recycled or recyclable?

    1. Anne – Thanks for the feedback.
      *The prices were in the video on each slide where it showed the food offering.

      *I didn’t feel restrained at all having someone there from the airline. I edited a lot out, but my comments were pretty pointed on it needing condiments. It just didn’t make the cut. Re the croissant, I’m not sure what defines a real croissant, but it looked like one and tasted like one.

      *Yeah, the spork worked fine for things like the yogurt and the fruit but it wasn’t great for the quinoa salad. They need something with deeper, sharper tines. I don’t know if the packaging was recycled, but it had the look to it with the thinnish brown colored boxes. I’m sure it can be recycled, but I don’t know if they will be recycling.

  19. It’s about time that Jet Blue got food right! Free snacks are fine, but now for some real food. Contrary to other posters, I do buy food on planes. Sometimes against my will or better judgement, but I do. Kudos to Jet Blue for making a hard but eminently do-able improvement. If it was easy, everyone would do it. But some clearly do. Glad JB is now on the list.

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