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Posts from the ‘Buy-on-board (food)’ Category

Tip: Pre-order your on-board meals for a more-pleasant dining experience!

February 20th, 2013

Kinny Cheng

Barbara Cockburn, of APEX fame, dives into the subject of the general in-flight meal experience, and how this can possibly be improved upon:

“It would seem an obvious solution for this airline to offer a better quality meal in the form of a pre-ordered ‘a la carte’ menu option. Indeed, many carriers are now offering economy class passengers the option to pre-order or upgrade their inflight meals at the time of booking and up to 24 hours before the flight… for a price.”

An obvious solution indeed. I’m sure that many of the airlines would like their passengers to realise just how *cough* disinterested *cough* they are in serving meals that don’t get appreciated.

“Whilst this passenger-pleasing option is good for customers, it’s ultimately “all about ancillaries”, says David Loft, president of the International Flight Services Association (IFSA). “The benefits of preordering are that passengers can order something of higher quality, they’re paying for it and getting something decent. To the airline, it saves wastage because they’re not loading a plane full of food that’s not going to get eaten. The airline is not taking the risk of putting 50 sandwiches on a flight and only 10 of them being sold.”

The cynics among us might suggest that airlines are gradually trying to phase out the complimentary meal (well, let’s be clear, meals included in the economy fare) and ease us into buy-on-board programmes on long-haul and overseas routes.

Loft doesn’t believe this is the case. “I’m not sure it’s a trend. But I would support anything that gives passengers the opportunity to have a decent meal on board. As IFSA president, I’d support going back to having a good quality free meal. But it’s purely economic issues that go against this.”

In other words, there would be two different models at play here — one involving those airlines with a business model of charging for in-flight meals (e.g. LCCs); and, the other, traditional carriers with a vested interest in economising and creating efficiencies in the production and servicing of in-flight meals.

While the idea of pre-ordered meals wasn’t exactly an innovation by the low-cost-carriers, it was most certainly these budget airlines, from all over the world, that brought the idea into mainstream — that is, the ability to pre-order your meal prior to travelling, and have that served to you in-flight.

So having established that such an infrastructure is certainly very much possible today, the obvious question then becomes “why aren’t premium carriers doing so similarly to streamline their catering needs and provisions?”

For the innovative airlines out there, it’s probably a strategy that doesn’t need to be taken off-the-shelf just yet. In the case for airlines with a follower’s stance, such a change will only happen when its direct competitors’ actions are significantly undermining their revenue-earning efforts.

Barbara’s article also lists several good examples of various select airlines experimenting with the implementation of “premium” type meals, being a paid alternative to the standard in-flight meal offering. Personally, what I would like to see is an innovative change to how the standard in-flight fare is offered, served, and enjoyed — an event that I believe to be very much possible and, hopefully, in the not-too-distant-future.

The dilemma with in-flight meals: buy-on-board or free-of-charge?

August 8th, 2012

Kinny Cheng

(Nothing is ever truly free — by “free-of-charge”, I was referring to included with ticket)


Tomás Romero, writing for the APEX Editor’s Blog:

“Like it or not, buy-on-board (BOB) menu items have replaced complimentary meals on most domestic, short-haul flights. Is it only a matter of time before the BOB revolution spreads to transatlantic flights as well?”

An interesting read on the state of in-flight meals for US-based legacy carriers, and the positions by each.

There’s really no right or wrong answer here. It seems more about following the better trend than not.

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