I'm a frequent flyer on international flights. Basically, the economy class ticket is bought by the company and of course includes an economy class meal. I wonder if after booking the ticket there is a procedure for asking a first class meal or if I can ask for an upgrade of my meal while I'm on board the airplane. I'm fine with topping up the price difference(if there is such).

  • 4
    Generally this isn't possible (especially once you're on the plane), but I know certain airlines (e.g. KLM) allow you to purchase upgraded meals (though not necessarily the first-class equivalent).
    – waiwai933
    Commented Aug 26, 2017 at 20:42
  • 9
    They have to load the meals before take-off. They can't send out for another. Commented Aug 26, 2017 at 20:46
  • Interesting question. What happens if you just ask them outright at service time? Something like "Excuse me, may I have a 1st class meal today?"
    – Gayot Fow
    Commented Aug 26, 2017 at 20:54
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    @GayotFow If you fly on BA, you might not even get a first class meal in first, let alone in economy ...
    – Calchas
    Commented Aug 26, 2017 at 21:23
  • 1
    @Calchas good, but I'm minded to try. meanwhile +1 for your answer below
    – Gayot Fow
    Commented Aug 26, 2017 at 21:26

1 Answer 1


The answer is no, although some airlines will allow you to purchase a special economy meal.

Airlines do not allow their premium class offerings to be split up. You either purchase the whole package or you get none of it. The meal is probably less than 15 USD per person at cost, plus a similar amount per bottle of wine at bulk discount prices, but there's no way the airline will reveal that. Nor are they going to discourage people from buying first class by suggesting the experience can be replicated in separate, cheap pieces.

In any event, a first class meal is not heated on a pre-prepared tray like the economy meals are. Each course is individually prepared in the galley and then hand-delivered to the table. I don't even see how a typical first class meal would fit on an economy seat tray. The meal presentation is a big part of it: you will need at least one cabin crew member for every ten or so passengers, because it is quite labour-intensive. You can't replicate that in the middle of an economy cabin, you don't have the space in the galley and you don't have spare members of the cabin crew to do it.

To be honest, you are not missing much. I would suggest enjoying a good meal in an airport restaurant and skipping the on-board service. You will probably eat better than the first class passengers.

  • Does anybody knows which airlines are allowing on an economy class passenger to purchase upgraded meals ?
    – Kostas
    Commented Aug 26, 2017 at 21:44
  • @Kostas KLM does.
    – Calchas
    Commented Aug 26, 2017 at 22:58
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    "You will probably eat better than the first class passengers" is probably true for any North American airline, but I have enjoyed the food when I've managed to fly first class on several Asian carriers (I'm particularly fond of Singapore Airlines).
    – user38879
    Commented Aug 27, 2017 at 0:42
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    KLM's meals are not really "upgraded", rather they are simply "you can choose your own menu" program. The offerings sound fancier, but don't really taste better (based on trying it once).
    – user13044
    Commented Aug 27, 2017 at 0:54
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    @Kostas Air France does too, and claims that the upgraded meals are identical to those served in business (not first). I actually did buy an upgraded meal on my last long-haul AF flight (CDG to KIX), and thought it was worth the 12 EUR.
    – fkraiem
    Commented Aug 27, 2017 at 4:12

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