This is How Qantas’s Inflight Menu Has Changed Over the Past 100 Years

Qantas inflight service in 1965

As society moves forward, so does Qantas. This month, we explore the evolution of inflight food and wine service.

What’s the first thing you do after buckling up for an international flight? If you’re like most, you reach for the menu. And if you’ve bee flying for several decades, you would have watched tastes change in real time.

En route to her 1954 royal tour of Australia, the Queen was offered a choice between poached snapper and grilled French lamb cutlets (followed by a dessert of Neapolitan ice-cream). On the 2008 Papal Charter flight from Sydney to Rome, his Holiness Pope Benedict XVI tucked into pasta for brunch (tagliatelle with zucchini, goat’s cheese and basil, to be precise).

Qantas breakfast menu from 1970

Image credit: A 1970s inflight breakfast menu with cover art by Russell Drysdale/Courtesy Qantas Heritage Collection.

The Qantas archives – where delicious details like this are stored – are as much a snapshot of society as they are a catalogue of the airline’s history. In the 1960s, lobster en belle vue was de rigueur. The ’70s called for prawn cocktail (of course), while the ’90s introduced Neil Perry’s famous steak sandwich, which is still on the menu. Menus have changed with cultural mores and our shifting demographics: English and French influences have made way for dishes with an Asian or Middle Eastern flavour.

So in almost 100 years has anything stayed the same? The answer is yes. The post-take-off sea of tilted heads looking for a trolley will never be lost to history.


  • 900 brand-new recipes are introduced every year
  • 800,000 steak sandwiches have been eaten since 1997
  • 03 Qantas is the third-largest purchaser of wine in Australia
  • 36,000 bottles of champagne have been poured in the Sydney
    and Melbourne first class lounges
  • 200 kilograms of licorice allsorts are served in Sydney lounges
    every week
  • 707 Penfolds named its Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon after the
    Boeing 707 aircraft
  • 42 million meals are served inflight every year
  • 300 More than 300 cabin crew members are currently trained
    as onboard sommeliers

Top image credit: Onboard service on a Boeing 707 in 1965/Courtesy Qantas Heritage Collection.

Qantas has built a time capsule to capture a snapshot of 2020 for the people of 2120. What would your contribution be? Visit to find out more.    

SEE ALSO: Qantas is Turning 100 in 2020

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