Turkish Airlines Review, Lufthansa Airline Review, and AirTran Airline Review

At a time when the high cost of fuel is forcing airlines to eliminate or cut back on food and amenities in economy class, some airlines are flying high with gourmet cuisines to attract and indulge connoisseur Business and First Class passengers. Turkish Airlines serves exquisite traditional Turkish delicacies; Lufthansa has formed liaisons with International celebrity chefs to create special menus to enhance the culinary experience for their passengers; Delta has partnered with Miami trend setter chef Michelle Bernstein. On the other hand, AirTran is keeping fares down by limiting business class service to snacks and unlimited alcoholic beverages, paired with the comfort of new planes and wide leather seats, exceptionally friendly attendants and informative chatty pilots. This past year I had the opportunity to sample a wide cross of business class services. Here are a few of my experiences worth sharing.


Turkish Airlines

My Turkish Airlines Business Class nonstop flight from New York to Istanbul was a delicious Turkish delight, as sweet as Turkish taffy. I was as impressed with the freshness, flavors and presentation of the meals served as I was with the friendly service of the flight crew. There was a very practical and attractive serving bar at the front of the business class section which  flight attendants use for set ups; it is artistically arranged with flowers, crystal glasses, bottles of wine and other treats available to passengers throughout the flight. My dinner got off to a mouth watering start with a beautiful selection of mezze (small plates of Turkish appetizers, similar to Spanish tapas) that were served from a trolley cart: smoked salmon, humus, grilled chicken salad with fresh pineapple, spicy lentil salad with goat cheese, homemade cheese borek, and shrimp salad. The soup course, a creamy warm pumpkin soup with roasted pine seeds, was thick and rich. For the main course, I was offered a choice of: grilled beef skewers, Chilean Sea bass, or Taglierini with prawns in lobster sauce. The bass, flaky, moist, and succulent, was cooked to perfection; the medley of vegetables that accompanied the fish passed the crunch test with flying colors. My only suggestion would be “a little less butter sauce on the fish”. Deserts and a cheese course, also served from the trolley, included chocolate soufflé and a trio of sorbets. My taste buds were not only titillated, but also raised to a higher appreciation of Turkish cuisine. My leather seat was spacious and comfortable; the seven hour nonstop flight passed quickly. One of the flight attendants told me “Turkish passengers prefer the food; Americans the comfort”. Personally, I prefer both; and Turkish Airlines surpassed my expectations.
For reservations and more info: www.thy.com or 1-800-874-8875.



Not too long ago, I had the treat of being invited to celebrity Chef Extraordinaire David Bouley’s Test kitchens in the Tribeca district of New York City, not far from his famous restaurants. The occasion was the tasting of the “Star Chef” menus he had created for Lufthansa’s First and Business Class service on all International flights out of Germany.

Bouley's Test Kitchens in New York City ~ Bouley and D. Polan ~ Bouley Cooking

As a follow-up to my New York tasting, Lufthansa invited me to sample Bouley’s menu 37,000 feet over the Atlantic to check out the transition from testing kitchens to airline catering kitchens to airline galley. My business class menu kept me dining for hours: for starters, tangy tiger prawns with maize and peas and pastrami on coleslaw with pickled vegetables . . . followed by a crisp and crunchy radicchio/ endive salad, then my choice of savory beef goulash with spatzle and herbed carrots . . . fried slices of salmon with a meaux sauce, celery and apple puree and steamed savory cabbage… or mixed mushrooms a la crème with chive dumplings and vegetable potpourri. The cheese and desert course was equally luscious. For a snack half way through the flight, there was a choice of smoked marlin and Argentinean beef sandwiches served with an exotic orzo pasta salad, dressed with herb crème fraiche, or a spinach and cheese spatzle with onions, mornay sauce and diced tomatoes. A yummy apple crumble with whipped cream topped the meal. David Bouley’s gourmet menu translated well, winning the challenge of maintaining the high standards his loyal patrons expect, and Lufthansa‘s discriminating passengers demand. For me, time spent in “ Lufthansa’s gourmet heaven” lived up to its reputation, and thanks to clear sailing, we climbed even higher.

Starter: Pastrami on coleslaw with pickled vegetables

Lufthansa was the first airline to bring gourmet cuisine to their Business and First Class discriminating passengers with special menus created by a roster of hand selected world renowned celebrity chefs. The theory was to combine innovative culinary talents with Lufthansa’s award winning in-flight service. Lufthansa and Thomas Stets, executive chef for menu designs, unveiled menus created by master chefs: Paul Bocuse (Lyon, France), Daniel Boulud, David Bouley (New York) Thomas Keller (Napa and New York), and Dideter Muller (Bergisch, Glad and South Africa). Some of the more exotic dishes served: saddle of venison with herbal crepe in mountain pepper sauce, halibut with shrimp soufflé on couscous in shellfish stock and kaffir lemon sauce and seasoned tuna on fruit chutney. To compliment and harmonize with the exquisite food, World Champion Sommelier Markus Del Monego was been brought on board to develop a Vinothek Discoveries wine list which changes every two weeks.

Chef Bouley and Thomas Stets ~ Star Chef David Bouley and other LSG Sky Chefs

2008 got off to a savoury start with one of France’s top-ranked chefs, Anne-Sophie Pic from the Maison Pic restaurant in Valence. Highlights from her First Class menu include: artichoke terrine served with seafood sauce, and roasted pigeon in nut crust served with quinoa grains with dates and mint . . .  and in Business Class: such delicacies as porcini marinated roast beef and grilled zucchini, smoked marlin with basil crème fraîche accompanied by ratatouille salad or almond-crusted tilapia served with onion endive fondue and rice. In September 2007, Anne-Sophie was voted “Chef of the Year” by 8,000 of her fellow chefs, making her the first woman in France to receive her country’s highest culinary achievement.

Lufthansa's Gourmet Food

Lufthansa’s premium fine-dining program has also received recognition from the culinary world for their participation in The Food Network reality series, The Next Iron Chef. Lufthansa helped orchestrate the fourth challenge, taking Kitchen Stadium and four final chef contestants to Munich, challenging them to use the airline’s catering facility and high-quality local ingredients to prepare the ultimate meal for Lufthansa’s First-class passengers.

One of the world’s largest airlines, Lufthansa flies to some 192 destinations in 78 countries. For more information or reservations, visit www.lufthansa.com or call 800-645-3880.


Before my recent AirTran flight from New York to San Francisco, with a quick change of planes in Atlanta (their hub), I was under the misconception that this economically priced carrier only offered service between New York and 10 Florida cities. Wrong!  AirTran flies to 56 cities in the United States and Puerto Rico (as of March 2008).
I had hesitations about flying coast to coast, other than nonstop; this was a first and an interesting trip to critique. Check-in and boarding at LaGuardia was stress- less and efficient; departure was on time, and before I knew it we landed in Atlanta, conveniently next to the departure gate for my flight to San Francisco. The flight from Atlanta to San Francisco, confirmed I had made a wise decision in giving AirTran a chance to prove itself. I was able to upgrade to Business class for $80; seats were more comfortable than many other domestic and International carriers; service was non stop friendly and accommodating, and the pilot kept us busy announcing points of interest as we crossed the country. Their no frills/ snacks only policy gives them the leverage to keep fares low and standards high; the flow of complimentary alcoholic drinks more than compensates for the lack of a meal.


My return, via Atlanta was a happy surprise. Due to bad weather on the East coast, all non stops flights into New York airports had been canceled, or indefinitely delayed. My flight to Atlanta left San Francisco on time; once again I was able to upgrade to business for the nominal charge of $80. I settled into my comfortable leather seat, took advantage of the complimentary alcoholic beverages and enjoyed the picnic meal I had wisely purchased before boarding. We touched down exactly three and a half hours later, the shortest coast- to- coast flight I have ever experienced. With another quick change of planes, my flights from San Francisco to New York were as relaxing on the inbound as they were on the outbound. I am looking forward to my next AirTran take-off and landing, perhaps on a flight to Puerto Rico, service begins March 2008.
AirTran Airways, designed for business travelers, offers a mix of low fares, an affordable Business Class, XM Satellite Radio, excellent customer service, an accommodating frequent flier program … and one of the world's youngest all-Boeing fleets. Dedicated to providing the best on the ground and in-flight experiences to smart travelers, they certainly get my vote for having succeeded.
If you haven’t put AirTran to the test, I highly recommend you take advantage “of all they have to offer”, you won’t be disappointed! And as an extra perk, economy tickets to all 56 cities can be upgraded to business, when seats are available, for the amazing low prices of $ 49 to $ 89, each way.

For Reservations and more info: 1-800- airtran or visit their web site:

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