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cosyr
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Chicken Or Beef, Why Is It So Hard?

Thu Sep 27, 2012 8:49 pm

I have had good experiences and bad experiences on every airline I have flown, some are just related to the mood of an employee at a particular time (we are all human, I get it), but there is one situation I have found proves to always cause conflict: Chicken or Beef?

I have been on several transatlantic flights in Y in the last few years where the FA starts serving dinner and simply asks Chicken or Beef. I then ask, what are the dishes? "Chicken or Beef" "Yes, but how are they prepared?" "CHICKEN OR BEEF?" I give up, beef.

I am a bit of a picky eater, and there are people with allergies and intolerances, so it is not a stupid question, but it seems to be one that FA's hate to answer. Is for annoyance of being asked 200 times, is it for lack of knowledge of the menu? Chicken with pasta, could be good, Chicken Cordon Bleu, I don't eat pork so that is a problem.

So to all the flight attendants on the forum, why do your colleagues have such issue with answering this question? Could you just make an announcement prior to serving dinner, outlining the two options? What is the best thing for me as a customer to do to handle the situation pleasantly?
 
NASBWI
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RE: Chicken Or Beef, Why Is It So Hard?

Thu Sep 27, 2012 9:05 pm

First of all, it would be unprofessional (IMO) for a flight attendant to be so dismissive to a perfectly valid question. If one would like to know what comes with each meat choice, I think it's fair to answer the question as best as I can. In my case, my airline serves neither, so it's a non-issue there. However, with six snack choices (and multiple channels of TV to distract the customers), I do get lots of "What do you have?" even after an announcement is made. In those case, I'm happy to go over the choices again - even though there's a pamphlet in the seatback pocket detailing all of our onboard products. It just requires patience on our part to deliver a positive experience (even if the meal itself is ho-hum).

Quoting cosyr (Thread starter):
Could you just make an announcement prior to serving dinner, outlining the two options?

Oftentimes, people pay little to no attention to announcements, and for those watching the IFE, service announcements tend to be an annoyance rather than an informative briefing. Also, as I stated earlier, many airlines may have the information you seek in a menu card or pamphlet located in the seatback pocket. Giving it a once-over before the service begins should clear up any questions you have - provided that one is available   .

Quoting cosyr (Thread starter):
What is the best thing for me as a customer to do to handle the situation pleasantly?

Hmmmm...it is frustrating to be dismissed as you have been in previous encounters, but I would maintain a calm demeanor and perhaps explain to the FAs why you're enquiring. Usually, letting someone know what your intentions are will clear up any potential misunderstandings. Even though I will always politely explain the six snack choices to those who ask, there will always be someone who thinks it's hilarious to make me repeat it again - because they know I'm obliged to (and yep, that has happened to me a few times).

Best of luck on any future "chicken-or-beef" situations!

P.S. - after scanning the various photos on a popular site dedicated to inflight meals, it seems by default that chicken comes with either pasta or rice, and beef comes with potatoes and some kind of veggie   . So, it's a pretty safe bet that your "chicken" or "beef" meal will be something very standard; it's rare to see something like pork on the menu, given that more than one religion shuns it. My guess is that even on AF, chicken cordon-bleu is a rarity, if at all.

[Edited 2012-09-27 14:08:38]

[Edited 2012-09-27 14:10:19]
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BasilFawlty
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RE: Chicken Or Beef, Why Is It So Hard?

Thu Sep 27, 2012 9:15 pm

That's why all airlines should handout menu's in all travel classes.
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goldorak
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RE: Chicken Or Beef, Why Is It So Hard?

Thu Sep 27, 2012 9:23 pm

Quoting cosyr (Thread starter):
I have been on several transatlantic flights in Y in the last few years where the FA starts serving dinner and simply asks Chicken or Beef. I then ask, what are the dishes? "Chicken or Beef" "Yes, but how are they prepared?" "CHICKEN OR BEEF?" I give up, beef.

Hmmm I think you are mistaken. It's chicken or PASTA (not beef)  
 
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RE: Chicken Or Beef, Why Is It So Hard?

Thu Sep 27, 2012 9:31 pm

Quoting cosyr (Thread starter):
I then ask, what are the dishes?

I think the trick is to ask differently. They get the question so many times that chicken or beef is the automatic answer. Try asking if it comes with pork and explain that you can't eat it. Anything to make it clear you don't ask the question they expect from every passenger.
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RE: Chicken Or Beef, Why Is It So Hard?

Thu Sep 27, 2012 9:34 pm

Quoting goldorak (Reply 3):
Hmmm I think you are mistaken. It's chicken or PASTA (not beef)

I've been on UA flights that did not have a vegetarian option. The choice was chicken or beef.

Quoting BasilFawlty (Reply 2):
That's why all airlines should handout menu's in all travel classes.

EY does, and it seems to get rid of most of the questions (allowing quicker service).
 
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RE: Chicken Or Beef, Why Is It So Hard?

Thu Sep 27, 2012 9:47 pm

Quoting goldorak (Reply 3):
Hmmm I think you are mistaken. It's chicken or PASTA (not beef)  

Exactly! Unless you're flying SA, where a couple of years ago I was asked "lamb or fish"? What the? Anyway, a welcome change.

Quoting BasilFawlty (Reply 2):
That's why all airlines should handout menu's in all travel classes.

As does SQ, for instance.
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RE: Chicken Or Beef, Why Is It So Hard?

Thu Sep 27, 2012 10:03 pm

Quoting UALWN (Reply 6):
Quoting BasilFawlty (Reply 2):
That's why all airlines should handout menu's in all travel classes.

As does SQ, for instance.

So does TK.
 
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RE: Chicken Or Beef, Why Is It So Hard?

Thu Sep 27, 2012 10:07 pm

Quoting BasilFawlty (Reply 2):
That's why all airlines should handout menus in all travel classes.

Printed menus are a waste of money in my opinion. Also not environmentally-friendly to print something that's looked at for 30 seconds (or not at all in many cases) and then thrown away.
 
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RE: Chicken Or Beef, Why Is It So Hard?

Thu Sep 27, 2012 10:25 pm

Why not just put it in the IFE...?
 
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RE: Chicken Or Beef, Why Is It So Hard?

Thu Sep 27, 2012 10:31 pm

As a very regular Qantas economy class passenger, I can confirm that everyone is offered the menu with a description such as "Chicken tangine with couscous and vegetables" or "Tandori beef with rice." A few extra words do not slow down the service and makes the meal a more enjoyable experience.
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RE: Chicken Or Beef, Why Is It So Hard?

Thu Sep 27, 2012 10:32 pm

Quoting Viscount724 (Reply 8):
Printed menus are a waste of money in my opinion. Also not environmentally-friendly to print something that's looked at for 30 seconds (or not at all in many cases) and then thrown away.

That's why airlines like KL are smart by either publishing the menus on their websites OR showing the catering options in the IFE system with fairly descriptive information on what customers can expect.
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PI4EVER
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RE: Chicken Or Beef, Why Is It So Hard?

Thu Sep 27, 2012 10:50 pm

I actually asked a DL F/A why they didn't know what actually made up the meal beyond the "chicken or pasta" part. She commented they have little "paperwork" that explains much beyond how to pick out a chicken or pasta entree dish....they have a foil lid on them covering the contents, food items beyond the obvious chicken varies.....one menu rotation may be potatoes, one menu rice, one even pasta based. Pasta is usually a ziti type casserole with sauce that varies from tomato based to cheese only and for the most part, certainly on international flights, its just a "maze" of meal trays they don't eat from! They have separate crew meals and most, in preparing for boarding and departure, do not look over the meals to determine what is there beyond "chicken or pasta?"
I think too, in fairness to serve a planeload of people looking to eat and drink, it is just about "getting it done" and the finesse of food descriptions are lost on the process to simply get it out to the masses....unless your airline provides a printed menu. I think those days are over for US-based airlines due to costs.
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RE: Chicken Or Beef, Why Is It So Hard?

Fri Sep 28, 2012 2:49 am

I know this isn't exactly Chicken or Beef, but flying a lot around Asia, I have been asked many times whether I want "Rice or Noodles." I know that is the major division of food here, but at the same time, that question doesn't really tell me much. I usually ask back what is with the rice or noodles, and usually I can at least figure out what meat is with each of them, but still, I think it's the same idea.
 
airevents
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RE: Chicken Or Beef, Why Is It So Hard?

Fri Sep 28, 2012 8:51 am

Well, as a flight attendant myself I can see both sides of the story really. When you drive down your food cart the aisle of a widebody aircraft and tell every single passenger "dear passenger, can I offer you a chicken piccata with steamed rice and red and green bell pepper or would you prefer our lovely beef that comes with handknitted Italian pasta and eggplants that have in the meantime completely dissolved" (made the meals up now), that obviously does not work as the phrase is simply very long. So I, like many of my colleagues, usually reduce it to the meal´s main component, which often enough happens to be chicken or beef. I think it´s a matter of politeness for me to know what else is in the meals (at least roughly) and explain it to those passengers who want or need to know.

Menus don´t work. If you hand out 100 menus at the beginning of the flight, appr. 20 passengers will look at it. Of those, some 50% will have forgotten what they wanted to order by the time the meal is served. Same thing with IFE screenings or PA announcements. Most passengers just ignore them.

What I find very astounding (and impolite of the travelling audience) is the following situation: widebody flight, three passengers next to each other. Passenger one looks at me interestedly, headphones on, full volume. "Would you like to have chicken or beef, Sir?" "Whaaaat"? Takes his headphones off. "Would you like chicken or beef?" "Ah, I´ll have the beef thanks". Passenger 2, right next to him, no headphones on. You could expect him to have at least overheard what´s on offer today. Big mistake! "Would you like chicken or beef?" "Ahm, could you check if any of them has some weird ingredient in it? I am allergic to that" Often enough I can´t because not all the ingredients are listed. Passenger three has fallen asleep in the meantime and will ask for his meal when he wakes up again in the middle of the night and everybody else is asleep. At the same time three passengers on their way to the lavatory, my colleague with the beverage cart standing right behind me, bored, and a mother asking for a meal for her baby.

This situation is not exaggerated, it happens like that. And that is probably one of the reasons why we try to serve everybody their meal in a rather speedy manner, to get at least most passengers happy without having them wait too long.

I think what you experienced is not nice, the flight attendant should always be able and willing to explain what else is in the meal, as long as he/she has that information at all.

But then, passengers should try to listen more to what is announced (we often announce what meals we have and what comes with the beef). Then, if you want to be on the safe side regarding allergies, there are special meals at no cost that you can pre-order but cannot order spontaneously on the flight.

I hope this explains it a bit, also from the flight attendant´s side...

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RE: Chicken Or Beef, Why Is It So Hard?

Fri Sep 28, 2012 2:15 pm

Quoting cosyr (Thread starter):
Could you just make an announcement prior to serving dinner, outlining the two options? What is the best thing for me as a customer to do to handle the situation pleasantly?

Menus. Just go down the list of top ranked airlines and you'll notice that generaly they all offer meal menus in all classes.

Quoting Viscount724 (Reply 8):
Printed menus are a waste of money in my opinion. Also not environmentally-friendly to print something that's looked at for 30 seconds (or not at all in many cases) and then thrown away.

Paper gets a bad rap. Few things are more environmentally friendly than paper and wood. It grows naturaly, it's renewable, it can be produced with little impact to the environment, and it's fully recyclable. Compared to the amount of platic that each meal comes with, I wouldn't worry too much about the environmental impact of a small paper menu.
 
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RE: Chicken Or Beef, Why Is It So Hard?

Fri Sep 28, 2012 11:12 pm

Quoting airbazar (Reply 15):
Quoting Viscount724 (Reply 8):
Printed menus are a waste of money in my opinion. Also not environmentally-friendly to print something that's looked at for 30 seconds (or not at all in many cases) and then thrown away.

Paper gets a bad rap. Few things are more environmentally friendly than paper and wood. It grows naturaly, it's renewable, it can be produced with little impact to the environment, and it's fully recyclable. Compared to the amount of platic that each meal comes with, I wouldn't worry too much about the environmental impact of a small paper menu.

It's still an unnecessary cost. There's also the weight issue of carrying something that's not needed. And staff are needed to coordinate the printing and distribution.
 
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RE: Chicken Or Beef, Why Is It So Hard?

Sat Sep 29, 2012 6:03 am

I saw a video from youtube about japanese airlines (dont remember which one - maybe it's ANA). Japanese flight attendants show the picture of the meals to all the economy class passengers. They can see it and can choose which one they like. They dont need to ask "chicken or beef" thousand times....Picture is worthy thousand words. lol

When I was on ANZ, i couldnt understand what a flight attendant said to me. Then she opened two different bowel of meals for me to see it so that i could choose one i like.

[Edited 2012-09-28 23:05:20]
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PanHAM
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RE: Chicken Or Beef, Why Is It So Hard?

Sat Sep 29, 2012 11:57 am

But that's Japanese customs anyhow. They either have pictures or plastic replicas of the food they serve, or both in restaurants.

The question "chicken or beef" is obsolete anyhow. It tastes the same and the question should be answered with a polite "have you got pork as well?"

Or, simply ask "Wanna east or not? "

Seriously, carriers shoiuld, at least in Y, do away with that "free" service of inedible stuff that is called airline food and instead offer meals for purchase that can hold up to standards.
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RE: Chicken Or Beef, Why Is It So Hard?

Sat Sep 29, 2012 12:37 pm

Quoting Viscount724 (Reply 8):
Printed menus are a waste of money in my opinion. Also not environmentally-friendly to print something that's looked at for 30 seconds (or not at all in many cases) and then thrown away.

I would imagine that nowadays, they are recycled rather than thrown out. I would also imagine that most menus are printed on recycled paper.

Besides, if I'm not mistaken, meals served on particular sectors stay the same for a certain period of time - say, a month or so. If that's the case, then the same menu can be re-used many times.

Quoting airevents (Reply 14):

Thank you for your response.

As a passenger, I have sometimes experienced what the OP has and am left with almost no clue as to what I'm ordering, but since I'm not much of a fussy eater, I pick whichever meat happens to take my fancy. But I can also understand the frustration for passengers that like to know exactly what their meal is before making a more informed choice.

I can understand your point also about serving as many passengers in as little a time as possible, and I think that knowing what the meal is and answering questions about the meals if asked is a good way of going about that. Some people aren't fussy and probably don't really care (I hate celery but I don't care if it's in my meal - I just pick it out), but there are those with special dietary requirements or for cultural reasons who cannot eat certain foods.

Quoting FlyboyOz (Reply 17):
Then she opened two different bowel of meals

I sincerely hope you meant "bowls" and not "bowels" ...  Wow!
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canadianpylon
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RE: Chicken Or Beef, Why Is It So Hard?

Mon Oct 01, 2012 7:11 pm

Quoting cosyr (Thread starter):
I am a bit of a picky eater, and there are people with allergies and intolerances, so it is not a stupid question, but it seems to be one that FA's hate to answer.

If you have specialty dietary concerns, you can phone ahead and request a special meal (Kosher, Halal, allergies, etc....) There are numerous trip reports here the have discussions about specialty meals on flights.

As I have a family member who has an anaphylactic allergy to eggs, it is imperative that we get special meals. Having an allergic reaction at 39,000 over the mid-atlantic to something you ate could be fatal.
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RE: Chicken Or Beef, Why Is It So Hard?

Tue Oct 02, 2012 12:01 am

Quoting TK787 (Reply 7):
Quoting UALWN (Reply 6):
Quoting BasilFawlty (Reply 2):
That's why all airlines should handout menu's in all travel classes.

As does SQ, for instance.

So does TK.

QF does on long haul flights

Quoting PI4EVER (Reply 12):
My favorite observed response from a F/A on US who received some negative feedback about a meal responded "I dont cook it, I just serve it." Likely the feelings of many.......

Having said that QF have printed menus on long haul flights, on short haul flights there's only one meal option (which is still fantastic on flights with a 1 hour flying time) - well once when the FA came to my row with the dinner service I asked what it was... "Breakfast"

Quoting FlyboyOz (Reply 17):
I saw a video from youtube about japanese airlines (dont remember which one - maybe it's ANA). Japanese flight attendants show the picture of the meals to all the economy class passengers.

I got that on JAL. To be honest after looking I didn't want either
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RE: Chicken Or Beef, Why Is It So Hard?

Tue Oct 02, 2012 6:14 am

This time when I flew TG to LAX..for breakfast into LAX the only choice was beef. Due to religious reasons I don't eat beef..was it that hard of TG to have a chicken or fish choice? This has never happened on any of my other flights..
 
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RE: Chicken Or Beef, Why Is It So Hard?

Tue Oct 02, 2012 4:30 pm

Quoting cosyr (Thread starter):
So to all the flight attendants on the forum, why do your colleagues have such issue with answering this question?

Um not all of us do, though I will admit that I only say Lamb or Salmon or Chicken or Pasta etc. But then again at my airline we offer menus to all passengers regardless of class of service. And if someone asks for an elaboration, I keep a copy of the menu with me so I can offer some detail.

Quoting cosyr (Thread starter):
Could you just make an announcement prior to serving dinner, outlining the two options?

Some airlines do the IFE thing, where they post it on there and the lead cabin crew can flash the screen with the information too right before the meal service. That might mitigate some of the questions, but I can guarantee you that if PA was made, probably less than 10 percent of people will pay attention to it.

Quoting cosyr (Thread starter):
What is the best thing for me as a customer to do to handle the situation pleasantly?

Just be pleasant yourself and if you have a crew member who is dedicated to their job they will return favor, and if they genuinely don't know, they would communicate that to you in a polite and clear manner.

Quoting Viscount724 (Reply 8):
Also not environmentally-friendly to print something that's looked at for 30 seconds (or not at all in many cases) and then thrown away.

Menus can be and are recycled.

Quoting PI4EVER (Reply 12):
I think those days are over for US-based airlines due to costs.

Well UA and AA still offer them in their domestic premium cabins, and I know DL offered me a menu in Economy (I was shocked) on a JFK-NRT flight, but not on the second and third intra-Asia legs, nor on the leg back from NRT to JFK. It was funny, I was recently on a UA ps flight from SFO-JFK and the crew (who were wonderful) came by and asked for first and second choices for dinner. The person seated next to me was having issues deciding between the three options on the menu, and the crew highly rated one option over the other - classic crew technique of recommending a first choice that had the least likelihood of running out  
Quoting airevents (Reply 14):
Menus don´t work. If you hand out 100 menus at the beginning of the flight, appr. 20 passengers will look at it. Of those, some 50% will have forgotten what they wanted to order by the time the meal is served.

It seems as though they work much better in the premium cabins at my airline that in Economy. Usually what I did when I worked in Economy was have a copy of the menu opened on the appropriate page for the meal service and pass it to the passenger to read, or just elaborate on it myself.

Quoting FlyboyOz (Reply 17):
I saw a video from youtube about japanese airlines (dont remember which one - maybe it's ANA). Japanese flight attendants show the picture of the meals to all the economy class passengers. They can see it and can choose which one they like. They dont need to ask "chicken or beef" thousand times....Picture is worthy thousand words

Yeah I remember TG did this for a while too during the whole SARS thing. It was this laminated card with a photo of the meal and a description in Thai, English and whatever language the destination language was (in this case Japanese). The photo of the unagi (eel) on offer was not appealing at all, nor was the pork option (imagine that, forget chicken or beef...eel or pork? ha!). That said, the food, as is the norm on TG, was fantastic.

From personal experience, its my opinion that it all boils down to how you approach the question and/or problem. Sometimes we run out of one option (lamb tends to be very popular on my airline) and all we are left with is a fish or chicken option, and for various reasons, people not eating red meat, being allergic to an ingredient in the dish, not wanting to eat seafood, decline the second option or really just don't want it. I try my best to help them out, especially on longer flights, by searing other carts or putting something together for them, most times from F or J. But if you are rude about it, or kick up a fuss, start yelling, or, as has happened a couple of times, accuse me of being "racist" or offering preferential treatment to other passengers, I won't be so inclined to go the extra mile for you. But 9 times out of 10, I won't let a passenger go hungry for a meal service unless they really actually don't want to eat.
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RE: Chicken Or Beef, Why Is It So Hard?

Thu Oct 04, 2012 1:06 am

Quoting RyanairGuru (Reply 21):
Quoting TK787 (Reply 7):
Quoting UALWN (Reply 6):
Quoting BasilFawlty (Reply 2):
That's why all airlines should handout menu's in all travel classes.

As does SQ, for instance.

So does TK.

QF does on long haul flights



Same on AF (or at least they used to do that when I flew them longhaul some years ago)...
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RE: Chicken Or Beef, Why Is It So Hard?

Thu Oct 04, 2012 2:42 am

Yes, yes, I remember, I had lasagna.
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HAWK21M
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RE: Chicken Or Beef, Why Is It So Hard?

Sat Oct 06, 2012 7:22 pm

The FA should have been detailed on asking "what is the dish on the menu"....the Pax has the right to know.
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PI4EVER
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RE: Chicken Or Beef, Why Is It So Hard?

Sun Oct 07, 2012 5:21 pm

A quick update from my previous posting about DL and F/A's simply stating "Chicken or Pasta?"
I just returned yesterday from a roundtrip to MUC via ATL. The food and beverage service in Y were excellent, and has to be the best Y class service I've ever experienced on DL and other US-based airlines flying transatlantc.
DL now offfers 3 choices of entree and by announcement described each meal and contents in detail. 2 hot choices were chicken or pasta or the new 3rd option of a large salad with grilled chicken. All trays included cheese and crackers, roll and butter and a cookie dessert. A salad was served with the hot entrees and sliced fruit with the salad entree. Descriptions were to the extent of "Thai Curry Chicken with Rice", "Pasta Primavera" or a "Cold Crisp Salad with Grilled Chicken." I selected the salad yesterday and it is served in a large portion insert to the tray and was a Greek salad with slices of grilled chicken.
The first beverage service began about 40minutes after takeoff, and included peanuts, pretzels and Biscoff cookies. Outbound an annoucement was made no peanuts would be served due to a passenger with an allergy so pretzels and cookies were offered. At the point of meal delivery, the choices were repeated, and once your meal was selected, another F/A followed the meal cart for an additional beverage service. Beer and wine were complimentary and cocktails/full bar is also free in Y .
Following dinner a coffee service was provided and included any requests for additional alcoholic drinks. Coffee with Bailey's were a popular choice for many.
Throughout both flights F/A's offered water every hour and prior to landing a light breakfast or hot sandwich wrap was served with full beverage and bar service. Again, Bloody Mary's were a popular choice to accompany the hot breakfast egg roll and fruit before landing in MUC. The pre-arrival snack yesterday was a 3 Cheese Calzone with an ice cream cup for dessert.
Surprisingly the "wine in a box" offered two choices......Merlot or Pinot Grigio.....and tasted fine. F/A's on both flights offered an ample serving of wine in DL's big plastic cups. When questioned, one F/A did comment that for the most part passengers have not complained about the wine quality or that it came from a packaged container instead of a bottle. DL does not use big square boxes of wine, but are more like a carton of milk package with a twist off cap.
So overall, with food choices, taste and quality of the meals and the personable service by the crews on both of the TATL legs, I seriously doubt that a foreign airline accomplishes much more for their Y passengers. The 3 of us traveling together all agreed the food and beverage service on DL was excellent, and that the extra leg room and seat placement in the cabin of the 764 is well worth the cost.....or perk if you qualify......for Economy Comfort.
Nice job Delta. Thank You for making our trip to MUC very pleasant.
Thomas
P.S. If you've not cleared customs in the new ATL F International Terminal, it is awesome. From stepping off the plane, to passport control, bag claim, immigration clearance and bag re-check for a connection was less than 20 minutes! This at 230pm in the afternoon and no sight of any passengers who had arrived 10 minutes earlier on the AMS A330 flight. Don't avoid ATL. They do international right!
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n729pa
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RE: Chicken Or Beef, Why Is It So Hard?

Thu Oct 18, 2012 4:52 pm

I was on a China Airlines flight once and I said the stewardess, "this chicken is rubbery"....she said "thank you very much"

  

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