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This fan favorite airline is now serving the Bill Gates-backed Impossible Burger

Impossible Burger
Air New Zealand
Impossible Burger

Famous chefs have said they'd never eat on a plane, and airline food in general has a bad reputation for not being healthy (or good).

But passengers may look forward to their meals on top rated airline, Air New Zealand. In July, the international airline partnered with Impossible Foods, which makes the Impossible Burger, to serve the plant-based burger on twice-daily Los Angeles to Auckland flights. It is the first airline in the world to serve the burger.

"We picked Air New Zealand, and they picked us, because we both stand for great customer service and quality," David Lee, Impossible Burger chief operating officer and chief financial officer tells CNBC Make It.

Impossible Burger 
Source: Impossible Burger
Impossible Burger 

The entree is served with two patties and smoked gouda and, for now, it's only available for business class customers.

"We wanted to make sure it was high quality for our first international flight, and it's limited now to control numbers to prepare for each flight," says Lee. The Impossible Burger is served aboard flights NZ1 and NZ5 from Los Angeles to Auckland in Business Premier class.

"Feedback on the Impossible Burger has been really positive, with the burger proving at least as popular as any of the other burger options we've previously offered," Air New Zealand in-flight customer experience manager Niki Chave tells CNBC Make It.

"Customers are excited about the chance to get their first taste of the Impossible Burger, and we're excited to be the first airline in the world to serve it, says Chave, adding that it's an opportunity to surprise and delight customers traveling in business class.

The Impossible Burger, which debuted in 2016, cooks, smells and tastes like beef from cows using an iron-containing molecule called heme, derived from soy plant roots. The ingredient was officially approved by the FDA in July 2018. Bill Gates is an investor in Silicon Valley-based Impossible Foods.

The Impossible Burger is now available in nearly 2,500 restaurants throughout the United States and, announced in April 2018, it is expanding to 40 locations in Hong Kong, as well as The Galaxy in Macau, announced in July.

Lee says beyond being a company executive, he's one of Impossible Burger's super fans.

"I am the target as a meat eater. I don't think I'm unique; the consumer movement is making better choices in food without compromising taste," he says.

"The great thing about the Impossible Burger is that it's entirely in the hands of the chef," adds Lee. "You can go to a different restaurant and have a different burger each time." Lee currently is a fan of the Impossible Burger at Umami Burger, an American gourmet burger chain.

Impossible Burger will be served on Air New Zealand until October.

Other airlines are making changes and improvements to on-board dining. In July, Alaska Airlines unveiled a menu with local ingredients "paired with West Coast staples" like a breakfast protein platter with Beecher's Flagship Cheese and non-GMO turkey, and a West Coast Cobb Salad for lunch, available until November 15. Emirates is opening a $40-million indoor farm in Dubai to serve high-quality, herbicide-free and pesticide-free leafy greens daily and fresher on-board food.

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