Food in the air

Etihad's on-board meals set a new benchmark.
Food in the air

Whenever I&rsquove taken an international flight, my way of &lsquotimepass&rsquo during the airborne hours has been to stuff myself with airline food. I know it&rsquos going to taste like plastic, but the minute that tray arrives, I eat every single thing on it. Then I feel bloated. And then I hate myself for my gluttony over food that really wasn&rsquot worth eating.

Last month, when I took the Etihad Airways flights from Delhi to Geneva via Abu Dhabi, I found I hadn&rsquot changed  my greedy ways, but I&rsquod definitely changed my opinion of on-board meals there&rsquos your standard airline food and there&rsquos Etihad food and nowhere do the twain meet. Here&rsquos some of what the friendly cabin crew plied me with  tender fillet steak, grilled medium-rare a perfectly poached side of salmon brioche stuffed with mushroom creamy mousse, crispy baklava. Oh, and a glass of champagne to start with, a fine Bordeaux to accompany the meal and freshly brewed coffee to end it. It was a meal worth sinning for.

Since I&rsquove never travelled business class before, I had a high old time sampling all the other amenities on offer. (Thank you, Etihad. And thank you, Outlook Traveller &mdash you&rsquore forgiven for the last assignment, on which you sent me in a stifling three-tier railway compartment to scorching Bundelkhand in May.) I loved the business class lounge at Abu Dhabi airport with its squishy leather sofas, lavish hot and cold buffet shower stall and smoking room round the corner. Also on offer a massage at the Six Senses spa, which I couldn&rsquot indulge in because it was time to board our flight to Geneva. This was on an A330-300 (the Delhi-Abu Dhabi leg was on an A320), and I&rsquod never imagined that an airline seat could be so comfortable. Press a few buttons and the seat vibrates to massage you just where you need it. Press a few more buttons and it becomes a fully flat six-foot-one-inch bed, on which I drifted off into a deep, restful sleep. I&rsquove never ever stolen before, but now I was seriously tempted &mdash I wanted to take away that velvety cream-and-black Etihad blanket that wraps itself so softly and snugly around you&hellip I left the blanket on my seat just as reluctantly as I left the 360° pampering of Etihad Flight EY53, on which I would have been happy to spend another seven hours.

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