Etihad Airways has raised the "steaks" in onboard pampering, hiring around 110 classically-trained chefs to work in its first class cabins.
Chefs to cook up five-star feasts on Etihad flights
The UAE's national airline has raised the stakes, and possibly "steaks", in the competition for first-class passengers.
Etihad Airways has hired 110 classically trained international chefs, some of whom have worked in Michelin-starred restaurants, to cook in its Diamond First Class cabins.
They are already working on flights to London, Sydney, Melbourne and Paris and will be introduced across all other first-class destinations by early next year.
Economy-class travellers traditionally have to make do with less-than-generous seating space and a choice between two reheated meal options, but airlines roll out the red carpet for premium passengers.
Etihad, which won the Skytrax Best First Class Onboard Catering award this year, is trying to fend off tough competition from rival Emirates Airline, which has a fleet of A380 superjumbos that have ample space to offer extras.
First-class travellers aboard Emirates' A380 aircraft can freshen up in onboard shower spas and relax or have a snack at in-flight lounges. The A380 also has private suites with adjustable lighting, a vanity table, mirror and wardrobe.
James Hogan, Etihad's chief executive, said the introduction of highly qualified chefs on its first-class flights would allow the airline to offer a "five-star restaurant style of service in the sky".
"We know how important the in-flight dining experience is to our guests, which is why we have invested consistently in this area."
As part of the new Mezoon Grille menu, first-class passengers can choose from beef, chicken, lamb and seafood, plus various sauces and side orders, prepared to order.
Chefs have a fully stocked pantry at their disposal, filled with prime cuts of meat, sauces, spices and freshly chopped vegetables.
On select day flights, Etihad will replace its previous Degustation menu with a Taste of Arabia menu. The à la carte menu will remain broadly the same, featuring appetisers, mains and desserts, although dishes can now be adapted.
"We have consistently elevated our in-flight dining experience by putting culinary experts in airline roles as opposed to airline experts in culinary roles," said Lee Shave, the vice president of guest experience for Etihad.
The airline requires its first-class chefs to have a minimum of six years professional experience in five-star kitchens although most have at least 10 years experience.