THE words "gourmet fine dining" do not usually trip off the tongue when you think of long-haul economy-class travel.
Those of us who have to muck in in steerage think of rubber chicken in a mini plastic trough, tea by the thimbleful, and the sort of ill-defined sandwich spreads that would make you dream of horseburgers.
Aer Lingus today announced it was making a bid to return to the age of elegant mile-high dining in economy class with it Sky Dine service on transatlantic flights.
Starting on February 14 – yes, you could turn it into a most romantic Valentine’s Day date – economy-class passengers will be able to tuck into a new “premium three-course meal choice’’.
It is hard to imagine a team of Michelin Star chefs slaving away with spatulas in an area next to the cockpit. Gordon Ramsey won’t be running down the aisle shouting swearwords back at Jamie Oliver.
However the publicity blurb tells us the three-course dinners costing €17.50 have been “created” by head chef James Keaveney.
As they stretch and yawn next to their common-or-garden nosh, other economy-class passengers will look on enviously and perhaps with a certain irritation as a more upmarket meal tray arrives next to them. Some might be tempted to tip the trays over in a fit of pique.
Typical fare is the “Steak House meal consisting of fillet of beef, sautéed potatoes with onion, spinach, mushrooms, topped with tomato tartar and served with peppercorn sauce. Chocolate mousse or cheesecake, by Lily O’Brien, is served for dessert.”
Among the other dishes is also Cod with Salsa Verde.
Customers will be able to pre-order their meals up to 90 days in advance. That is an uplifting activity for those with time on their hands.
The meals should be popular among those dissatisfied with the present standard of insipid steerage nosh, but inevitably there will be a few gripes when passengers are paying €17.50.
But at least in this case the dissatisfied customer cannot walk out.