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These are the worst inflight meals we've ever seen

We asked some of Britain's top travel writers - people who have travelled with more than their fair share of carriers all over the world - to tell us about the worst airline food they ever endured

Wednesday 21 September 2016 11:57 BST

The news that British Airways is to cut the free food from its short-haul routes has been met with anger by some and relief by others. Is it a real loss, the latter group ask, when inflight food is so bad anyway? With that in mind, we asked a few of our travel writers to tell us about the very worst piles of slop served to them in the guise of an "inflight meal".

"Somewhere in the skies over Central Europe onboard an Oman Air flight to London Heathrow, I was served this limp excuse of an inflight meal (see main picture): a mushroom sandwich. I took one small bite, spat it out, informed the flight attendant it was the sorriest sandwich I had ever encountered and spent the rest of the flight nursing my rumbling stomach."

Nick Boulos

Part of the "fun" of an inflight meal is trying to figure out exactly what it is you've been served

"Vegan inflight meals can be really hit and miss. The worst I’ve encountered was an economy breakfast aboard a British Airways flight from Istanbul to London: two miniature triangles of white bread marinated in cold, tinned tomato juice. More a nightmare smoothie than a meal."

Liz Dodd

"Dinner aboard a Dakar (Senegal) to Paris flight on Air France in business class in 2014, featuring a steak tougher than the plane’s tyres and a red wine sharper than jet fuel. An M&S ready meal from Heathrow Terminal 5 never tasted better the day after that."

Julian Eccles

This is what you could have won: a display of business class meals typical on Sri Lankan Airlines (Lakruwan Wanniarachchi/AFP/Getty Images )

"United Airlines by an easy mile served me the worst meal I've ever had anywhere. When I asked what the red-hot package I'd been slung was (containing unidentifiable sludge) the air hostess told me 'how should I know!'"

Georgina Wilson-Powell

"The worst I ever had was the first time I ordered the diabetic meal on a Middle Eastern airline. Half of the things on the tray weren't diabetic friendly at all: there was a yoghurt (full of sugar) and a bowl of fruit (also sugar). Whoever had slung it together seemed to have confused low-fat with low-sugar. For reasons I do not understand there was also a gluten-free bread roll. So half of it was dangerous for me to eat, but I'd have rather forced that down than the main: moist, pungent salmon, served with damp vegetables floating in fish-juice. I no longer order diabetic meals."

Jamie Lafferty

The only thing more frightening than the fish noodle breakfast is the deadpan stare of the cabin crew

"No contest: pungent fish noodles for a very, very early morning breakfast aboard a China Eastern flight from Shanghai to Paris, nine years ago. It was the same as we’d had for dinner a few hours earlier; unable to stomach a second helping, I declined."

Nicola Trup, head of travel at The Independent

"Back in the days of the USSR, Westerners with hard currency were in a strong position to procure cut-price travel — particularly in 1991, when the USSR fragmented. Aeroflot, then the world’s biggest airline, flew on, but it took a while before the accountants started pricing flights properly. So I made it from Minsk to Kiev for less than a pound. But the inflight meal wasn’t an added bonus so much as a punishment. It was a grey globule of reconstituted gristle going by the name of a 'cutlet'. To raise the colour temperature, passengers were also served a luminous orange liquid that you really wanted to test with a Geiger counter (especially since the route between the capitals of Belarus and Ukraine passed very close to Chernobyl). Yet now I actively seek out Aeroflot flights, because the 21st-century catering is, in my experience, superior to BA’s economy offering."

Simon Calder, travel correspondent at The Independent

The five-strong dessert course in business class beat the pasta coated in cold soup a few rows back

"It absolutely infuriates me when cabin crew offer 'chicken or pasta' - as though there are not multifarious ways in which these ingredients might be served. I will always make a point of asking 'but chicken/pasta with what?', and am disheartened to report that oftentimes the answer is: 'I don’t know.' This blatant disdain for economy passengers - who, I might add, are still paying a fair whack for their ticket on long-haul routes - was compounded by the 'safe' pasta option I chose aboard a flight from Tahiti to Los Angeles. Lukewarm, stuck-together penne topped with glutinous cold mushroom soup does not a happy passenger make. Funnily enough, my best ever inflight meal was with the same airline when they upgraded me on the Los Angeles to Paris leg. A lobster starter, followed by a creamy tropical prawn curry, five-strong dessert course and cheeseboard showed what airline kitchens are capable of - and that they appear to be wilfully torturing those in cattle class."

Laura Chubb, deputy head of travel at The Independent

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