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MARCH 2019

Week 9


Cathay Pacific assesses pre-order meals trial

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March 1st 2019

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Business class passengers could have expanded choice while economy can pay for premium meals. Read More »

Pre-ordering meals gives passengers more options, guarantees choices and reduces spoilage and weight for airlines. The hurdle is logistics, from meal selection IT to physically delivering the food. Those main challenges, and perhaps some complacency, have stopped many airlines from offering pre-order menus to their passengers.

Cathay Pacific is assessing the results of a February trial that offered passengers on outbound flights from Hong Kong to Chicago, London Gatwick and Washington Dulles pre-ordered business class meals. The outbound-only trial was to learn how Cathay’s main catering hub responded to the change in service.

The flights used Cathay’s new catering concept and offered various aircraft and meal time combinations that produced different implications for passengers, galleys and crew: Gatwick is an A350-900 service, Chicago is a four-class mid-day 777 departure and Dulles is an evening A350-900 departure.

Passengers filled out a simple form that showed a photo of the meal tray with a short description. The trial interface was not as snazzy as fully-fledged rolled-out systems like Singapore Airlines’ “Book the Cook” offering. Cathay’s transformation programme includes improving food, a consistent passenger complaint.

“We are at the very initial stage of trials. Our customers told us they value having more choices for their meals on board,” a Cathay spokesperson said. “We must test to get the logistics, back end support and customer experience right so it is really the enhancement of our service that passengers asked for and one that our crew can deliver.”

The trial offered the same six main dishes that could be ordered inflight. Adopting pre-orders of food could see the number of dishes expanded. While long-haul flights usually receive out-sized catering attention, there is interest in expanding meal options on regional flights. Even with seasonal or monthly changes of menus, some passengers fly enough that meal options are repeated. This introduces challenges because short-haul passengers often change their flight on the day of departure.

There is also revenue opportunity in other cabins, such as economy passengers pre-ordering a premium meal for a fee. A Cathay spokesperson emphasised the airline is committed to offering all passengers complimentary food.

Cathay Pacific passenger interface of pre-order trial

Source: Orient Aviation and Cathay Pacific

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