Virgin America this week is touting its new-for-fall inflight menus, together with a reminder that the airline was deemed “Best Domestic Airline for Food” in Travel + Leisure’s 2014 World’s Best Awards.
To be sure, the offerings in first class look downright restaurant-worthy, although the portions seem a bit on the skimpy side. Consider the roasted chicken with artichokes: “Sumac herb marinated chicken breast that is roasted with the skin-on and served with marinated gigante beans, seared artichokes, roasted radish mix and caramelized fennel with sherry chicken jus. The dish is then garnished with a salsa rustica of charred tomatoes, onions, poblano peppers, capers and anchovies.”
If that doesn’t get you salivating, you should have your taste buds examined.
But with first-class airfares being what they are, luxe meals are to be expected. The question for the great majority of travelers is: What’s being served in the back of the plane?
Although the coach menu is several notches below that of first class, it features solid fare, and even a couple of intriguing items. On Transcon flights, for example, there’s the soy ginger marinated salmon salad: “Soy ginger salmon sitting on arugula pesto, mixed faro, sugar snap peas, togarashi, English cucumber, radish, watercress, cilantro and red rice tossed with a sesame honey vinaigrette and slivered almonds.”
Other items, available on all flights over two hours, include roasted herb chicken-apple salad, Tuscan turkey sandwich, Southwest veggie wrap, and an artisan cheese box. Nothing too fancy, but the focus on fresh ingredients shines through and elevates everything above the ordinary.
For coach flyers, Virgin America’s pretty-good food and gee-wiz inflight entertainment system are definite pluses. But when it comes to the quality of coach-class travel, perhaps the airline’s most significant offering is its legroom. While many airlines have reduced coach-class pitch (the distance between seats) to 30-31 inches, Virgin America so far has held firm at a minimum pitch of 32 inches.
Adequate levels of sustenance, comfort, and diversion. That may be as good as coach-class travel gets.
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This article originally appeared on FrequentFlier.com.