Raise the bar: stay hydrated in the sky / Alamy

Smart passengers can help themselves

Airlines such as Virgin Atlantic have to cater for 400 people aboard a 747 flying to Florida or the Caribbean – all of whom have their own individual tastes, and all of whom want five-star service while six miles high.

Add in the constraints of an aircraft galley, even on a Jumbo, and it's a tricky proposition. But smart passengers can help themselves. As with life, so with eating and drinking on a transatlantic trip: moderation is the key.

"Little and often is the way we see it," says Mark Nunn, inflight services food and beverage manager for Virgin Atlantic. "We're not doing massive big portions; we're not stacking it high like a lot of the American carriers do. Bear in mind you're sitting in a seat all day."

"We try to keep it quite refined – obviously there are the options for burgers and steaks, but we've got the light and healthy options as well.

"We like to work with simple, seasonal ingredients presented elegantly."

Mark is particularly keen on the food aboard Virgin's daily Dreamliner from Heathrow to Delhi. "We seek the views of our Indian cabin crew about the meals, and we've got really nice bespoke products there." And he recommends going easy on food before a trip: "That has a massive effect on your digestion and you won't enjoy the flight."

And to drink? Hydration is the key, he says. But some of us like to try something other than water. Frequent fliers often say that wine doesn't fly well. But Adam Holden of Berry Bros & Rudd disagrees: "We change, the wine doesn't." He is the wine merchant supplying Virgin Atlantic, and says: "If it's a good, well-balanced wine on the ground, then it will taste good in the air." He recommends a red with balanced acidity, fruit, body, alcohol and tannin, such as a 2011 Constantia Glen: "South African voluptuousness with an elegant finish." But you'll need to fly in Virgin's Upper Class to taste it.