Beef, rosemary and mushroom casserole with roasted root veg and green beans - dinner on Monarch's in-flight menu
Beef, rosemary and mushroom casserole with roasted root veg and green beans

If you’re anything like me, you spend an awful lot of time during your holiday thinking about food. It’s sort of an obsession – should I go for a la carte or al fresco, will I dare to try some crazy local delicacies, is it OK to spend half my budget at restaurants… food is constantly on my mind! But is airline food something any of us think about a lot? Do any of us really look forward to it or is plane food too much like plain food?

Monarch was keen to find out what customers thought about this when we started overhauling the menu late last year. Our in-flight catering team keeps a close eye on customer and crew feedback about meals and uses the compliments and criticisms to improve the menu on a regular basis. So logically, the first thing we did when we launched a review of our menu was to ask customers what they thought of our current menu.

Chicken Caesar salad, regular lunch on Monarch's outbound flight menu
Chicken Caesar salad


After considering responses to our regular customer service questionnaires, we also commissioned a major research project. We set up a ‘food jury’ which consisted of people who had recently flown on Monarch and our competitor airlines and gave them extensive surveys to find out in great detail what they thought of airline food. Next we surveyed our crew to get their feedback about the kinds of meals which were popular onboard, which were easy to prepare and to present in an appealing way.

Now, it may not come as a surprise to you, but the feedback from several months of research showed travellers had very low expectations about airline food. It turns out that passengers are often disappointed by in-flight meals and don’t see it as something to look forward to… no matter which airline they flew with (which made us feel a little bit better!)

Chicken tikka, spinach and pilar rice on Monarch's in-flight meal dinner menu for outbound flights
Chicken tikka, spinach and pilar rice

Armed with this knowledge, we decided to make some significant changes to our menu for scheduled flights. We consulted professional restaurant chefs and product suppliers who sought out a range of new foods which could bring some pizzazz to our meals and offer good value for money for travellers. The experts offered us a new ‘café style’ menu, with lots of high quality, tasty and healthy options to choose from, including paninis, freshly squeezed juices and delicious desserts.

Sample menus were taste-tested by our food jury to make sure they would appeal to a broad range of tastes and dietary requirements. If the jury didn’t like certain items, they were rejected and replaced by alternatives. The finalised selections were then ‘road tested’ in the air by chefs and Monarch key cabin crew. Tweaks were made based on feedback from these trials, then the menus retested, finalised then launched on 1 July.

Although we’ve done a lot of research, we’re not resting on our laurels. We’re constantly refining and improving our menu based on your feedback.  Back by popular demand, our hot breakfast option has been reinstated onboard our scheduled flights. We’re also pleased to have received a lot of compliments about our paninis and toasties, with hundreds of thousands of them flying off the trollies this year.

Four cheese tortolloni with tomato and basil sauce in Monarch's vegetarian dinner in-flight menu
Four cheese tortolloni with tomato and basil sauce

Want to learn more about our in-flight meals? Discover a mouth-watering range of meals and snacks on board our flights and order now, at the discounted online rate of £7.99 or £8.99! Meals can be ordered up to 24 hours before departure.

If we stacked all the cups of tea we sell on board in a year, they would reach over 15,000 metres high – or around 49,000 ft – higher than a commercial aircraft can fly!


Have you flown on a scheduled flight with Monarch this year? Have you pre-ordered a meal and compared the old and new menus? We’d love to know what you think of the new range. What are your favourite items? What do you think we should keep/discard/bring back/add? Let us know in the comments below.

Catrionna is the social media & content manager for Monarch Airlines and an editor of the Monarch blog. A keen traveller, she loves exploring destinations on the Monarch scheduled network and especially loves Spain and Italy.


  1. Thanks on your marvelous posting! I certainly enjoyed reading it, you may be a great author.

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  2. no point to any of this blog – no reply from questions (re gluten free question above) – then they close the reply button down so cant follow up on lack of answers – MONARCH WASTE OF SPACE

    • Hi Lynn, I have passed on your questions and comments regarding gluten free meals. This is currently under investigation as a option and I’ll let you know when there is an outcome to this. Thanks for your post.

  3. the new menu looks good, the only dissapointment is the removal of the light breakfast option which included cereals, not everyone wants a cooked breakfast.
    When I last flew in September I was glad to see the reintroduction of this option an emailed monarchd about this, now as I was looking to book breakfast for my december flight there is no option for me.
    Please consider reintroducing this brekfast option.

  4. HI, we used to fly monarch regularly but our son has to have gluten free food now and we can not book a gluten free option with you any more on our flights to menorca or the canaries. we now fly thomas cook because of this – why are monarch not offering gluten free options any more – yes i know we could go without but why should we – there would have been two snack items on your snack menu he could have had but they were sold out by the time the trolley came to us – as parents we can not sit and eat in front of our son when he has nothing. so come on monarch bring the choice back stop discriminating kids on special diets often feel bad enough about it and just want to eat with the rest of us.

    • Hi Lynn, I just wanted to let you know that I’ve passed on your message to our catering team and I’m awaiting a response. Hopefully it won’t be too long now. Thanks for your comment.

          • why cant i get any reply – answer monarch not bothered – big company yet again ignore customers – why have a blog if there is no response – yes once again you will promise me its on its way – i would rather you were honest and say we are not answering that one. dont know why i keep wanting to wait for an answer – if i get one it will be all about ‘cost is a factor and it is not cost effective to produce gluten free meals’ – what about keeping your customers!!! we are a group of 12 and will be flying 2 times in 2012 (used to go with monarch) but since the lack of gluten free food on your spain routes we are booking with thompson instead. yes my choice of airlines is now limited but at least we are not giving our hard earned cash to a company who cant even answer the customer. adios monarch.

          • Hi Lynn, I’m sorry for the delay – I’m not sure why I haven’t received a response yet but I have chased this again for you. I’m hoping the person I need to speak to hasn’t left for their Christmas break yet. Thanks for your patience.

  5. Hi Catrionna
    I flew back from Faro and had to endure the lunchtime meal. To be honest the box it came in looked tastier than the meal itself . I know you have passed comments onto the Catering Team but clearly they are ignoring both you and the customer – not a good sign in any organisation . If they dont act soon the situation will resolve itself and no-one will buy the meals at all !!! Problem solved

    Good luck

    • Hi Richard, thanks for your feedback. I’m sorry you feel our catering team is ignoring our customers – I can assure you this is absolutely not the case. It’s in our mutual best interest – for Monarch and our customers – to make sure our meals suit your tastes and requirements. This is why we pay so much attention to the feedback on our blog, on social media and in our customer service questionnaires – and why the hot breakfast was reinstated. All the feedback is collected and considered, so I have passed your comment to the team.

  6. hi catrionna, althrough your comments are helpful but every comment you have made is the same I WILL PASS YOUR COMMENTS ONTO OUR CATERING TEAM. this does not encourage anyone to pre book meals. we are in the process of booking our next flight with the best airline in the uk, monarch. but your meals are bringing your airline into the same ratings as ryanair poor low rated meals.wake up dear change the menus back to what they were proper food, why repair something that wasnot broken.
    thankyou steven stott

    • Hi Steven, the in-flight catering team are reviewing every single comment forwarded to them. Changes have been and will continue to be made based on feedback from our customers, for example the change to the hot breakfast. Thanks.

  7. Couldn’t agree more with the comments regarding the in flight meals. Glad the breakfast has been reinstated but could not appreciate the toasted cheese sandwich which was more akin to cheaper “run for your seat” airlines. Please bring back your proper meals.

    • Hi Ken, thanks for your feedback. I’ve passed this on to our in-flight catering team so your comments can be taken into consideration for any review of the menu. Thanks again for dropping by.

  8. We flew 1st Sept and returnedon 15th having booked proper aircraft meals months before which were converted into bacon paniis and salads mainly containing lettuce and a poor toasted cheese sandwich.We will in future be taking on board food from the airport outlets unless hot meals are reinstated. Despite what you say it is obvious that the new bistro menu has been introduced to make life easier for you as you are already selling the main constituants on the plane to passengers who have not bothered to pre book. We fly on Monarch for a proper aircraft service as opposed to RYANAIR!

    • Hi John, thanks for your comments. I can only assure you that the menu was designed with our customers’ tastes in mind. Meals are available to pre-order online so that we can offer customers the meals they want and of course, minimise waste from unused meals at the same time. Of course, plans change when you’re travelling so there’ll always be people who decided not to pre-order a meal but get hungry, which is why we also carry convenience snacks for sale. I’m sorry that you are unhappy with the menu and I have passed on your comments to our in-flight catering team so they will take your feedback onboard.

      • I am pleased to see the menu has been changed and hopefully improved.We will see late in December when we fly again. Thanks for your efforts and I will report back in January 2012

          • We are just back from LANZAROTE with mainly good news , you will no doubt be pleased to hear. On our outbound flight the cooked breakfast was served quickly and was excellent.Even my wife who is not a fan of cooked breakfasts polished it off! On the inbound flight we had the casserole beef etc but nobody could see the relevence of the carton of lettuce leaves and the rosemary bread…they do not seem to go together.Also because Sonia and her team decided to serve all the passengers who had not booked a meal first, the beef dish was somewhat dry having been overcooked/heated .The apple tart was excellent.It may be a better idea to replace the lettuce leaves with a decent starter and forget the bread which really needs to be heated and have olive oil drissled on it .However much improved and say eight and a half out of ten.

          • Hi John, thanks so much for your comments. It’s good to hear you and your wife enjoyed your cooked breakfasts although I’m sorry to hear the casserole was less impressive on this occasion. I’ve passed on your feedback to our in-flight services team and our cabin crew management so improvements can be made. Thanks again for taking the time to visit and leave your impressions.

  9. That is really good news about the hot breakfasts. Took a flight to Faro a week or so ago and me and the Mrs were lamenting the change. So..thanks for listening. Now, if you can get Gatwick to stop wasting money on clowns and bans and fix the baggage handling, I’d have a permanent smile on my face!

    • Hi Stephen, glad that we’ve made you happy with the change back to hot breakfasts. I’ve passed on your feedback to our in-flight catering manager and also to our airport services team at Gatwick to see if improvements can be made. Thanks again for your post.

  10. Thank god the hot breakfasts are back! I’m flying this Friday, are they up and running again already? The new breakfast menu was not good, there was complete confusion over whether tea was included or not (I got charged on one flight and not on two others). And lets face it there was nothing in the breakfast you couldn’t already buy on the flight (for less) so why would you pre book a panini??
    Thanks for listening Monarch !

    • Hi Dawn, yes the hot breakfasts are back onboard right now. I’m sorry about the confusion about the hot beverages – there was a miscommunication there which we have since tried to clear up. Thanks for joining us on the blog! Thanks also for taking the time to comment, I appreciate your thoughts and have sent your feedback to our in-flight catering manager.

      • No problem…and i’m booking my breakfast as we speak, which I never thought I’d be doing again – so it’s good news for Monarch too I rekon… personally I’d like hot lunches back to. Used to enjoy the chicken dinner…

  11. The comment “Back by popular demand, our hot breakfast option has been reinstated onboard our scheduled flights.” Has brightened up my day!

    I was very disappointed indeed when I was served a Bacon Panini! Especially since I don’t like Bacon and was not given an alternative. What wrong with offering say Sausage, Egg, Cheese etc? Allowing us to pick before the flight so everyones happy.

    Needless to say I’m glad you have reinstated the hot breakfast as this by far is my top choice and I have to say Monarch’s is the best airline hot breakfast!

    Lunch meals not at all to my liking, turned it away would rather lose my money. I would recommend a better selection that you can prebook before your flight e.g. a Chicken meal, not everyone likes curry! And different options to Salad’s not everyone likes Salad!

    And what happened to the old Fashioned; Tea, Coffee, Orange Juice?

    • Hi Zachary, thanks for your post. I’m glad to hear that you’re such a fan of the hot breakfast – I can’t help agreeing with you, it’s a really nice way to start a morning flight. I can appreciate how you feel about limited choices and I have passed on your feedback to our in-flight catering manager. She and our supplier are constantly refining the products we serve onboard to make sure we cater to as many of our customers’ tastes as possible – she’ll be interested to hear your recommendations. Thanks again for taking the time to comment.

  12. We only dropped on the lunchtime menu on both flights and agree with Lynne King the salad did not resemble anything near your picture being nothing more than a box of green lettuce. We ordered a regular meal without realising they had been amended from our last flights. What was supplied anyway a ceasar salad i would think is actually a vegeterian meal. But what about the chicken you say well there was not enough with the meal to upset any vegeterian even if they had eaten it. We actually paid for three peoples return meals for nothing and it did spoil what would have normally been a pleasant flight and enjoyable food.
    Although we will fly with monarch again there is no way that we will book another meal which is a disapointment as we have always enjoyed the meals as part of our flight and holiday.

    • Hi Steven, thanks for your comment. I’m sorry that your Caesar salad didn’t live up to expectations. I have passed on your comments to our in-flight catering team so that they can ensure that our supplier makes improvements to the salad. Although a lot of work has gone into creating the menu, there is always room for improvement so I’d like to thank you for taking the time to leave feedback. I’m pleased you enjoyed your flight otherwise and I hope that we can tempt you to try something else from the menu in future. Catrionna.

  13. We fly regulary with Monarch and prebook breakfast and lunch as part of our travel plans.
    We are afraid we have not enjoyed the revamped menu offered by Monarch and feel the meals have taken a large set backwards in quality.
    We had a very dry bacon panini for breakfast and chicken ceasar salad with a cold toastie for lunch. The salad did not resemble picture above.
    Come on Monarch – you are our favoured airline. Please relook at your menu as you know how to do quality.

    • Hi Lynn, thanks for your comment. The next time you take a morning flight and book a meal in advance, you’ll be pleased to find the panini has been replaced by a hot breakfast, which is back by popular demand. I’m sorry that your meal didn’t live up to the high quality standards we expect and I have passed on your feedback to our inflight catering team. I would be very interested to hear any future feedback you have about your meals onboard so we can track our progress on improvements. Thanks again for taking the time to post.

      • Hi Catrionna,

        We have flown with Monarch again today and glad to say as advised was served the good old english breakfast. Thank you for listening to your customers. It appears everyone is in agreement on new menu so keep up the good work and reinstate the cooked meals as before to lunch and dinner please!!!

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