This Popular Japanese Vending Machine Serves Airline Food

It's a funny thing about airline food – it gets a bad rap and sometimes, it deserves it. Yet at the same time, a lot of us seem to have a secret fondness for it.

Maybe it's because there's something about munching on "Pasta Supreme", a teeny chocolate mousse, and an atom-sized cracker that says "I'm seven miles high and heading off on an adventure". And while regular in-flight meals might not match the 1920s lobster, sherbet and peach melba heyday described by Travel + Leisure, lunching over mountain peaks still has the glam factor (even if you're squeezed into sardine class).

Over the decades, the gastronomy of the skies has even acquired its own mythology. This includes the oft-repeated tale of American Airlines saving $100,000 per year by removing one olive from every salad (via ABC News), to influencer Casey Neistat's viral video of Emirates First Class caviar-on-demand experience.

In other words, airline meals are more than just the sum of their (sometimes frustratingly under-portioned) parts. Instead, they conjure up an entire bubble universe of sleek flight attendants, squeaky drinks trollies, and cloud-fringed scenery.

For this reason, wouldn't it be nice if you could enjoy the airplane food experience at home whenever you had the notion, without having to fork out for a plane ticket?

In-flight meals at the click of a button

Well, it turns out you can — in Japan, at least. You'll just have to make your way to Tokyo's Haneda Airport.

According to Sora News 24, when Cosmo Company launched its airplane food vending machine in Terminal 2's public entrance in 2022, it didn't expect it to be such a hit.

Aside from the novelty element, the machine's success could also be due to Cosmo's impressive track record in sky dining. After all, this is the company that provides in-flight meals for airlines like Etihad, Emirates, Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines, and Qatar Airlines (Luxatic ranks most of these in its top 10 Best Airline Food list). In other words, this vending machine chow promised to be pretty tasty.

Known as "in-flight meals of the world," the automated service offers a parade of international cuisine. You can take your pick from dishes like paella, coq au vin, gapao rice, massaman curry, and prawn yuzo kosho cream sauce, all for 980 yen ($7.28) each. The only catch is that the meals are frozen, meaning you can't wolf them down on the viewing deck while watching planes take off.

Yet if it's any consolation, Haneda Airport has some other interesting vending machines to peruse. According to Daisuki-Nippon, you can try out fare ranging from horsehair crab ramen to KitKats flavored like rare Amaou strawberries. With this in mind, it might be worth flying into Tokyo just to enjoy a tasting experience at the airport.