Plane food is typically not the most exciting cuisine. Airlines have recently added more regional specialties to match their routes and various snack options beyond the basic peanuts and pretzels. Though first and business class frequently get the bulk of delicious possibilities, Alaska Airlines recently introduced some delicious plant-based selections. We talked with Jessica Johnston, Alaska Airlines Senior Food & Beverage Product Manager, about the new vegan options and what’s in store for passengers on the in-flight dining menu.
Vegan Selections Now Available With Alaska Airlines
WT: What prompted the introduction of the vegan menu?
Johnston: Our guests have given the feedback that there need to be greater dietary considerations in our onboard product, and we have taken that feedback to heart. We are focused on providing various fresh & seasonal options on board without sacrificing the quality that Alaska Airlines is known for. We are also committed to being a more sustainable airline, and there is increasing awareness that a plant-based diet has a lower impact on the planet.
WT: How was the menu curated and items selected?
Johnston: We work closely with many partners to curate our onboard food products. The Soy Meets World salad was designed in partnership with the culinary team at Evergreens and picked from their selection of seasonal salads. The combination of the salad’s bold flavors and a well-known plant-based protein was a great way to introduce vegan items into our portfolio.
WT: Was there a difficult process in terms of ensuring the plant-based items stay fresh in transit?
Johnston: We did not experience any challenges in keeping plant-based items fresh during transit. Food safety is our biggest priority, and we work diligently to keep our food at proper temperatures throughout the process.
WT: I know there’s always a lot of chatter about how altitude impacts the taste of food—was there a challenge in creating vegan items that would still be flavorful in the air?
Johnston: Altitude and cabin pressure reduce our taste bud sensitivity, but not all taste receptors are the same. Using seasonal items at the peak of their freshness certainly helps in flavorful food at altitude. Focusing on umami-rich flavors helps since most umami receptors actually increase their sensitivity at altitude.
WT: Will the vegan menu be changed in the future or expanded?
Johnston: We are excited to be bringing additional vegan AND gluten-free items in the future. Our fall menu launches in mid-October, and there are great things to come!