The rest of the tray: cutlery, crockery and everything else

The rest of the tray: cutlery, crockery and everything else

In our continuing week-long journey into airline food, let's turn our attention to what else you'll find on your meal tray... or, increasingly, off your meal tray.

While first class diners have seen proper silverware on fine china and posh linens for some time, long-distance business class flights have also been getting in on the trend of sprucing up the table setting.

Emirates, for example, has upmarket cutlery from British design house Robert Welch, designed for the airline and with the Robert Welch signature on the back.

The airline has over 1.2 million pieces of the cutlery in service in first and business classes.

Now, it would be a rare business traveller who picked an airline based on its cutlery. But small touches like this -- combined with service on silver trays rather than galley kitchen carts -- are all part of the attractiveness of one airline's business class compared with another's.

Elsewhere on your business class dining table, Virgin Atlantic has recently swapped its amusing aeroplane salt-and-pepper pots (a favourite for swiping, with "Pinched from Virgin Atlantic" printed on the bottom) for a cocktail-shaker design that ties in neatly with the airline's James Bond sponsorship.

Don't try to nick the new ones, though -- the crew will be keeping a careful eye on them, and will be collecting them after your meal.

Air New Zealand's self-righting wine glasses are an absolute stroke of genius too, which is fortunate since the Kiwi carrier serves some fantastic drops of red on board. No need to choose white wine as the safe, spill-free option!

Here's a quick video proving that they actually work:

And rounding out the meal, we reckon that you have to go a long way to beat the elegant design of Qantas' Marc Newson cups, saucers and tableware in Noritake china, originally designed for the red roo's first class passengers but now seen in business class and in Qantas' business lounges.

In terms of practicality the teacups a little lacking -- there are times we'd give anything for a decent-sized mug of coffee the morning after an overnight red-eye flight -- but as a classy design icon, they're absolutely brilliant.

What's your favourite "off-the-plate" aspect of business class airline food? Share your thoughts in comments below... and don't forget the rest of Australian Business Traveller's Food Week coverage!

John Walton

John Walton (John Walton)


Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.


  • AusFlyer


    3 Feb, 2012 04:12 pm

    I don't put much thought into the cutlery, china and glasses. For me, as long as they are functional and work as they are supposed to, I don't care if they are from Target or Noritake.

    It is nice to have proper salt and pepper shakers though... rather than the dreadful plastic thing that you get on Qantas. Though I can't say I care whether they look like airplanes or are made of silver or china. 

    No member give thanks

  • Rufus


    4 Feb, 2012 02:14 am

    It's a shame the Cathay Pacific business class salt and pepper shakers (which look like polished stones) seem to be disappearing.  The hostie told me last time they used to have them available to buy on board, but no longer.

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  • rob1984


    4 Feb, 2012 09:48 am

    Having great food is now expected when traveling in Business class. Not every airline pulls it off but all of the ones I have travelled in Business seem to be trying. Its also good to see interesting table layouts and product (cutlery, crockery etc.)

    On one of my first trips with Virgin Australia Intl (V Australia), the cabin crew gave each Business passenger a gift which was a set of the china salt and pepper shakers. They are designed as a pare and resemble the Sydney Opera House. They no longer give them out. Similar to Virgin Atlantic's however these were higher quality.

    When you're in Business it is when everything comes together that makes it a memorable flight.

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  • cbourl


    4 Feb, 2012 01:03 pm

    reminds me of SQ Biz on A380 from SIN-SYD

    Jatz crackers wrappred in plastic and coon cheese wrapped in plastic on givenchy plates!

    cf United PS Biz non-designer ceramic table ware with fanstastic food options and presentation

    cf LX First ZRH-JFK Lamb cooked to your  liking (my preference is rare) non -designer tableware but fantastic presentation and service - hostie ven noticed im mediteranean and asked me if i'd prefer a bowl of olive oil to dip my bread in rather  than butter - was great oil with fantatic european(swiss) beard

    No member give thanks

  • spinoza


    4 Feb, 2012 06:13 pm

    the qantas teacups are terrible; because of the way its shaped, you need to be really careful when drinking, otherwise a lot of tea will drip onto your clothes. really annoying, all look and no substance. 

    No member give thanks


26 Oct, 2016 06:30 pm


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