This Travel Enthusiast Has Been Recreating Plane Food at Home for Months

An endeavor inspired by a passion for plane food and the "sheer boredom" of quarantine.

Courtesy of Nik Sennhauser

There's no one-size-fits-all flavor palate. We've all got our likes and dislikes, be it a penchant for Chinese food or a particular appreciation for some authentic Italian. I can't say, however, that I've run across too many folks with a particular passion for plane food—until now, that is.

Travel enthusiast Nik Sennhauser, who you may have stumbled across as @flysoplane on Instagram, has made a name for himself on social media by recreating his favorite in-flight meals—including everything from fried chicken and waffles to salmon in dill cream sauce.

Sennhauser, who admits to having a longtime love of plane food, was missing travel and suffering from what he describes as "sheer boredom" while in lockdown last year. It was then that the idea of recreating in-flight meals took hold.

Courtesy of Nik Sennhauser | Salmon in a Dill Cream Sauce

"Having been grounded for nearly a year in January 2021, I was so bored during the weekends with absolutely nothing to do due to restrictions. Like in many other countries, we were confined to our homes," the Scotland native told Thrillist. "This, combined with the Scottish winter weather, it was just plain miserable."

He said that one Sunday in January, he made himself a to-go breakfast of hash browns, omelettes, and sausages, and caught himself thinking about what a great in-flight meal it would make.

"Being an avid airline dinnerware collector—I have an airline trolley stocked with plates, glasses, and trays—I plated up the breakfast like an airline meal, actually making use of my collection," Sennhauser said. 

He continued plating regular meals on his airline dinnerware "just for fun," but soon had the idea to start actually recreating the dishes he had experienced on his travels. 

Courtesy of Nik Sennhauser | Fried Chicken & Waffles

"It was basically a challenge for each week—something I could focus on and look forward to every week," he continued. "I would spend the beginning of the week looking at photos of past trips and meals, choose a meal, and then use the latter half of the working week researching recipes online and making a shopping list." 

Among many, many other dishes, Sennhauser has whipped up Lobster Thermidor, courtesy of a Singapore Airlines trip, French toast with caramelized bananas he once ate on Qatar Airways, and a meat patty with gnocchi dish he picked up from Austrian Airlines.

Courtesy of Nik Sennhauser | Meat Patty & Gnocchi

While he acknowledges the less-than-positive reputation in-flight food enjoys, according to Sennhauser it's about recalibrating your expectations. 

"I do find that it is unfair for people to compare airline food with restaurant food. Airline food is a food category in itself," he explained. "If you want restaurant food, go to a restaurant. Tastebuds are 30% less sensitive on a plane due to air pressure and humidity levels, and noise also has an influence on taste. On top of that, meals can only be reheated on a plane, which means that they have to be cooked and chilled all in advance." 

While Sennhauser has racked up a few thousand followers on his Instagram with his painstaking meal recreations—mostly "fellow travelers and plane geeks," he said—his endeavor really has nothing to do with social media. 

"I haven’t been doing this for Instagram," Sennhauser said. "The meals are our actual Sunday dinners—and the odd breakfast or brunch. It’s what I cook for my husband. This is something I have been doing for myself and my mental health during lockdown, to distract me." 

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Megan Schaltegger is a staff writer at Thrillist.