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The primary reason we invest all of our time in the points game is to fly first class, and one of the main reasons we enjoy first so much is the caviar. Unfortunately, not all airlines’ caviars are created equal. Fortunately, we at Points Envy have tried them all, and this week at Billion Mile Secrets we pit two of the best against each other in the fanciest cage match in the history of airline fine dining.
Before we get started, we’ll run through a quick primer for those of you less familiar with the champagne of the sea that is caviar. When two fish find they truly love each other, they venture to a special nook of the sea to make sweet fish love and produce succulent pearls that, without proper intervention, would become more useless fish. Thankfully, master seamen have learned to extract these eggs and sell them to airlines, who in turn serve them to worthy humans.
On our most recent trip to the Orient, we flew Asiana’s new first class suites on the outbound leg and returned in Cathay Pacific’s popular first class. At first glance, these products might appear much the same, but the Korean and Chinese carriers would be offended if mixed up for one another. They do much to distinguish their caviar services, and today we will judge them on these efforts.
The first consideration when eating caviar is presentation. From the pictures below, you can see for yourself that Asiana serves its caviar à la tin, while Cathay’s version is served à la plate. Unlike many food products, such as pork chops or ramen noodles, it is generally preferable one be served caviar in a container, so as to ascertain its authenticity. Accordingly, Asiana gets the nod here.
Asiana on the left; Cathay Pacific on the right.
After reviewing the presentation, we like to take note of the caviar’s origin. Asiana presented us with a paddlefish from New York, whereas Cathay gave us a “mystery meat” version without description. Given the amount of nostalgia we still harbor for elementary school lunches (anyone else remember those chocolate milk pouches?), we much prefer the latter.
It is also important that the caviar course fit in comfortably with the overall menu. On Asiana we opted for the Korean menu of bibimbap and the caviar was a perfect starter. In the case of Cathay, the caviar course was the ideal beginning for our steak lunch. Really, caviar pairs particularly well with any menu, so here we have a tie.
Another telling component of any caviar experience is the general mood. This time around, we were feeling pretty down during our Asiana flight due to a recent 13.4% drop in the price of the single share of stock we own. On the other hand, we were elated during the Cathay leg, as we were captivated and entertained by Tim Burton’s most-developed work to date, Frankenweenie. We therefore give Cathay’s caviar the advantage here.
Finally, we always count the number of caviar eggs served, as it is a direct indication of how much the airline really cares. The Asiana caviar came in at 214 eggs, while the Cathay serving contained 196 eggs. Given that we redeemed 70,000 United miles for our Asiana flight and 67,500 American Airlines miles for our Cathay leg, this means a mile to egg ratio of around 327:1 for Asiana and 344:1 for Cathay, giving Asiana the slight edge.
Overall, we had a miserable time on both airlines for a variety of reasons unrelated to the caviar service. Although we forgot how either caviar course tasted because of our exhaustive sampling of the champagne, wine and spirits, if forced to pick a winner we’d probably choose Asiana.