Airline bets its in-flight food is good enough to open a fast-food restaurant

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Usually when we’re writing about airplane food, it’s something akin to “nuts can kill people!” or “don’t drink the ice water!” Only on very rare occasions are such stories appetizing. One such example: “Hurrah, stroopwafels are back!” Another: this one.


Skift reports that AirAsia’s confidence in its in-flight menu is so high, the Malaysia-based airline intends to open a fast-food restaurant on terra firma. That report stems from an appearance that Tony Fernandes, Air Asia Group’s CEO, made on Larry King Now on Friday. (Yes, the 85-year-old broadcaster still has a talk show on the obscure digital channel Ora TV.)

“Our food is fantastic. We believe in it so much that we’re going to start a fast-food restaurant out of it. It’s called Santan,” he said.


Skift suggests the first location is likely to be in its homebase Malaysia. Santan, which is also the name of the inflight menu, means “coconut milk” in Malay.

Skift reached out to AirAsia about the opening and didn’t get much, other than a vague, “We will be making an announcement soon.”

Honestly, this stuff sounds good. You can ask anyone who’s flown on an Asian airline, especially on a transoceanic flight—the food has a fairly decent reputation. Skift describes the menu as “one of, if not the most, extensive on-board menus featuring comfort food that is to regional passengers what pasta is to Italians.” Dishes include Golden Butter Chicken With Rice, which comes with five pineapple tarts; Pumpkin Kootu And Vegetable Jalfrezi; Spiral Pasta With Chicken Sausage; and more. They even do a Farm-To-Air menu.


For the record, if they sold Southwest’s “Plane Crackers” (which are just plain crackers, get it?) in stores, I would probably snap those right up, too. They’re cute.

Contributor, The A.V. Club and The Takeout. Allison loves TV, bourbon, and overanalyzing social interactions. Please buy her book, How TV Can Make You Smarter (Chronicle, 2020). It’s short!



Looking at the menu and Fernandes’s irrational self-confidence about it, there’s a reason why I sometimes request Indian vegetarian meals on transoceanic flights: curry (or any strong, flavorful sauce) over rice is usually a pretty safe bet.

The strong flavors still come through despite the dehydrated air, and the sauce-rice combo means it’s relatively easy and direct to polish off. I don’t know why more US airlines don’t offer a curry option. Butter chicken on the way over and saag paneer on the way back will help me forget how much I hate United, if only for 40 minutes total.