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The golden age of in-flight dining: Scandinavian Airlines photographs make one’s mouth water for airplane food

Goran Blazeski

In the last few years, we’ve all been witnesses to the steady emergence of so-called food photography. It developed quite steadily and now has almost reached the point that it could be considered its own thing, a new kind of artistic expression. It’s like that old saying: You eat with your eyes first.

Posting snapshots of one’s meal on social media has become everyday occurrence. And if you ask yourself why, you surely wouldn’t come up with an exact answer. There is no logical explanation, but one thing is for certain–everyone does it. It is the first thing that many people do when the dish is served. They take a photo and post it on Instagram or Facebook, adding a comment. Then and only then, the feast can begin!

1955 Photo:SAS Museum CC By 2.0

1955 Photo:SAS Museum CC By 2.0

However, if you use Instagram on a daily basis, you have most certainly noticed one tiny detail concerning the food photography phenomenon. And that is the lack of food photos taken at airport diners or during flights. Why is that you may ask? The answer is actually quite simple: airplane food just doesn’t fit the Instagram standards. No one would want to share a photo of a dish that is plain-looking and in many cases, quite unsatisfying. It is a common problem among air travelers, and when asked randomly what is the thing they hate the most about flying, nine out of ten would probably say it is the food.

1965Photo:SAS Museum CC By 2.0

1965Photo:SAS Museum CC By 2.0

Nowadays, the food that’s usually offered by air companies can’t be considered comfort food. In most cases, it is something that closely resembles the famous TV dinners and those other similar single-serving, bland, pre-packaged foods.  In layman terms, it’s not something that leaves people wanting more. But it wasn’t always like this.

1975 Photo:SAS Museum CC By 2.0

1975 Photo:SAS Museum CC By 2.0

Let us take you several decades into the past when in-flight dining was at its best and flying was truly a thing to be experienced.

1975- Photo:SAS Museum CC By 2.0

1975- Photo:SAS Museum CC By 2.0

Now, thanks to some vintage photos released by Scandinavian Airlines to celebrate their 70th anniversary, we are able to get a glimpse of the golden age of in-flight dining, when lobsters, fresh salmon, and caviar being served in front of you were a regular thing, followed by a mouthwatering dessert and a glass of some of their finest champagne or wine.

A chef serving food Photo:SAS Museum CC By 2.0

A chef serving food Photo:SAS Museum CC By 2.0

Judging by these captivating photos, we can confirm with utmost certainty that every passenger who booked a flight with Scandinavian Airlines was sure that he or she would be taken care of in the most extravagant way one can imagine.

A first class lobster dinner. Photo:SAS Museum CC By 2.0

A first class lobster dinner. Photo:SAS Museum CC By 2.0

Scandinavian Airlines seems to have treated its passengers like royalty, and the food (always prepared by professionals) was not just perfectly cooked, but a visual delight as well.

c. 1955. Photo:SAS Museum CC By 2.0

c. 1955. Photo:SAS Museum CC By 2.0

If this weren’t enough to convince you, just have a look at the photo in which the airline’s chef is personally carving the ham in front of starry-eyed passengers.

c.-1980 Photo:SAS Museum CC By 2.0

c.-1980 Photo:SAS Museum CC By 2.0

Unlike today, when silverware is not served on the coach class in commercial flights and passengers have to rely on plastic, back then their meal was served on a real plate and they could freely use a metal fork and knife.

Photo:SAS Museum CC By 2.0

Photo:SAS Museum CC By 2.0

In retrospect, the one thing we can take away from all of this is how much today’s airline companies are lagging behind. And it is not just regarding the food, it is the whole package.

Cabin service in a Douglas c 1955 Photo:SAS Museum CC By 2.0

Cabin service in a Douglas c 1955 Photo:SAS Museum CC By 2.0

It seems that today they sort of forgot that the most important thing in the airline business is to keep your passengers happy and satisfied.

Caterers prepare turkeys to be served on board.-640x494Photo:SAS Museum CC By 2.0

Caterers prepare turkeys to be served on board.-640x494Photo:SAS Museum CC By 2.0

If nothing else, the photos released by Scandinavian Airlines proved and continue proving that there is still so much we can learn from the past and that there is always room for improvement.

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As a side note: Imagine if there was a thing like Instagram back then and how many likes would they get.