Cathay Pacific denies ditching business class 'dine on demand' plans

By David Flynn, January 8 2018

Cathay Pacific has denied reports that it has dropped plans to expand its business class 'dine on demand' service to key routes on the airline's international network.

The Oneworld member trialled the "eat what you want, when you want" concept across May and June 2017 on selected flights to London and Chicago, although plans to follow this with “a gradual rollout in late Q3 or Q4" failed to eventuate.

James Evans, Cathay Pacific’s then-General Manager of Product – who currently serves as the airline's General Manager, Crew Management Program, following one of Cathay Pacific's regular reshuffles – told Australian Business Traveller in mid-2017 that the aim of the dine on demand trials was "to learn from it, build on it and then expand it across the network as soon as we can – assuming it resonates with our customers, and I think it will."

It's since been speculated that Cathay Pacific has shelved those plans, but a spokesman for the airline told Australian Business Traveller overnight that no such decision has been made.

"We are currently in the process of analysing both passenger and crew feedback," the spokesman said. "We will share more updates on the new Business Class dining service once available."

PREVIOUS | Cathay Pacific will introduce 'dine on demand' in business class on international routes from the fourth quarter of this year, assuming trials of the service across May and June are well-received by passengers.

The dine-on-demand concept allows travellers to select any dishes from an expanded menu at any time during the flight: or in the words of James Evans, Cathay Pacific’s General Manager of Product, “eat what you want, when you want.”

Evans tells Australian Business Traveller that he is “really optimistic” about the trials, which will run on Cathay's London Gatwick CX343/CX344 Airbus A350 service from May 1 through to May 31 and then Hong Kong-Chicago flights CX806/CX807 from June 1 to June 30.

“I’m expecting a lot of positive comments from customers and great feedback in terms of that control over your own experience,” Evans predicts.

“We’ve got lot of after-midnight flights to all over the world, so in the lounges you see a surge of dining before they get on board” Evans elaborates.

“Dine on demand will allow people to have something lighter than a large main meal (shortly after take-off) and something else later during the flight.”

Cathay will also trial new serviceware alongside the revamped menus, while the crew on those flights is being given “specific training” to match the dine on demand concept.

“They will be very much au fait with what the proposition and very much the advocates of this” Evans explains.

“So we have those two months to really learn from the customers and the crew, and a kitchens overseas, to be able to tell us very honestly what’s working, wants not working, how we can change it.”

“We want to learn from it, build on it and then expand it across the network as soon as we can – assuming it resonates with our customers, and I think it will.”

Evans expects that dine on demand will begin “a gradual rollout in late Q3 or Q4… you’ll see that segue from the May and June trials to other ports and then building up over the coming few years.”

“And it has to be a staged rollout, you need to have staggered approach and do it market by market because of the need to train the crew, you can’t train 10,000 cabin crew overnight.”

David

David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Alex Moris

Alex Moris

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Jan 2017

Total posts 39

That's great! This is becoming a standard in business class across many airlines. I don't envisage this to become a standard on Qantas as they want to quickerly throw out the food at you in masses like a soup kitchen and then turn off the cabin the lights so the crew can sit around and talk.

Joe

Joe

03 May 2013

Total posts 390

yes, Qantas don't do 'silver service' well at all....maybe us Aussies are just too lay back even in first and business class. You just have to compare differences in Qantas pax with EK pax dress standards in the F and J lounges in DXB!

obi

obi

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Mar 2017

Total posts 30

I thought I would love dine on demand on Qatar, but strangely, I didn't. I found that I didn't eat as much (probably a good thing) - but further, that I was constantly woken up by the tinkling of cutlery and the smell of food, as there always seemed to be someone eating a main meal throughout the flight. Not to mention the crew constantly delivering and clearing plates. I think I prefer the nursery school approach of feed 'em and put 'em to bed!

sra35

sra35

QF

02 Oct 2012

Total posts 39

For me CX can only improve their J class catering. I hate how they wheel all the main courses through the cabin on a trolley so everyone looks and selects a main course. Not even on a plate but cheap looking ramekins. I presume they are stalling as dine on demand (and even a real plate) will take them so much more time to prepare and present

Sesh

Sesh

28 Oct 2015

Total posts 5

Cathay has some of the worst food I've eaten in business class. Just providing something edible made from decent ingredients which are not shoved together in a small doggie bowl is all that is required - no need for dine on demand.

obi

obi

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Mar 2017

Total posts 30

CX J class food is also inconsistent across flights. Sometimes okay, never good, and sometimes quite awful. Presentation is generally very unappetising as everything is re-heated in those ramekins rather than being individually plated. It generally ends up looking like economy food in a ramekin. It's a shame as they are now well behind the pace in J class soft product. Having flown Qatar on the last two Europe trips, I'm a bit reluctant to go back to Cathay. Come on Cathay lift your game and fix the catering. I agree with Sesh, just serve individually plated food and that would improve things a lot. Dine on demand can come after, IMHO. (CX is still preferable to QF 'tho...)

Skipp

Skipp

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

20 Aug 2012

Total posts 126

Yes, from my experience Cathay Pacific Premium Economy catering is 90% identical to Cathay economy class.(including the use of cheap supermarket plastic cups & cutlery for drinks/eating). CX Business class catering to me seems more akin to the level of Qantas Premium Economy class.

The CX hard product is good (except with the soon to be introduced 10-abreast economy seats on there B777), but the catering seems minimalist (with cost cutting obvious to the customer).

alex_upgrade77

alex_upgrade77

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

08 Sep 2012

Total posts 244

Perhaps the Dine on Demand was a smoke and mirrors way of providing a catering 'enhancement' without improving the quality, which is the fundamental problem here. Looks like it's backfired as passengers are still complaining about food quality. As many others have said already, CX catering in its premium classes is its weakpoint. Substantive changes are needed.

Bernoulli

Bernoulli

21 Apr 2017

Total posts 35

Yes and this has recently been acknowledged by CX management and a commitment made to addressing it. Hopefully we'll see some improvements soon.

John C

John C

Air New Zealand - Airpoints

08 Aug 2014

Total posts 39

I have to agree with obi above. Call me old-fashioned but I still prefer the old-school, back-in-the-day approach of a dinner "event" after take-off that soaked up a couple of hours and something else to eat later on before landing. I did Qatar to and from Europe recently and their dine on demand menu is deliberately "light" to keep you healthy etc., but it's kinda like what they say about McDonalds, in that you want something else again fairly soonish.

As far as being disturbed by tinkling cutlery etc.I avoid night flights wherever possible. Much more civilised to fly during the day ;-).

14AspenDrive

14AspenDrive

19 Jan 2018

Total posts 11

Oh the days when CX was THE AIRLINE and First Class on the upper deck of their 747-200s stopping in Bahrain to refuel between LHR/HKG was QE2ish....now when does the sardine can direct Perth/LHR 787 QF JokeLiner start???

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