Cathay Pacific's new 'restaurant-style' business class meal service

By David Flynn, June 18 2018

Cathay Pacific will roll out its new business class dining service on Boeing 777 flights to Chicago in July, with the 'restaurant-style' program coming to Sydney in February 2019 and the rest of Australia in May 2019.

The revamped service – which will extend to some 34 destinations by June 2019 – will include individually-plated meals...

... chosen from an à la carte menu which the airline says will include three starter choices and "up to six main course choices".

The menu will also include a series of 'lighter, healthier' meals alongside a 'most loved main course' flagged for each route.

The airline will also attempt to offer more flexibility to busy business class travellers with express meals and supper plates for lighter dining, especially on those near-midnight departures from Hong Kong.

Airline executives confirmed to Australian Business Traveller the introduction of a breakfast card – similar to that used by Qantas – which passengers will complete before hitting the hay, so that they can wake to what the airline described as a "hotel room-service" experience.

In addition to what's described as Western and Asian breakfasts, the menu card will also include a lighter Continental breakfast plus a minimalist Express breakfast of a piece of pastry and a drink, which can be served 60 minutes before landing for passengers who wish to maximise their sleep.

However, unlike the wide selection of items available on the Qantas breakfast menu cards for example, the Cathay Pacific breakfast card appears to follow a 'set menu' approach.

Here's the complete schedule for Cathay's rollout of its new business class dining service through to June 2019.

EXCLUSIVE | Cathay Pacific will move business class meals closer to a first class experience with its launch of a new 'restaurant-style' business class dining.

The airline says the revamped business class service is built around "restaurant-style dining, improved menu offerings and a new level of inflight hospitality."

In an internal email to staff, sighted by Australian Business Traveller, Cathay Pacific says "the new Business Class service elevates the customer experience towards the First Class service, offering a far higher degree of personalisation. First Class will continue to offer higher degrees of privacy, more space, better amenities and fine dining menus."

Passengers can expect to enjoy not only an upgrade in the qualify of meals but "restaurant-style food presentation, greater choice and flexibility and more personalised service" with the aim of delivering "a memorable dining experience and personalisation."

However, this won't extend to the full 'dine on demand' service which the airline previously trialled across May-June 2017 on selected flights to London and Chicago, allowing travellers to select any dishes from an expanded menu at any time during the flight.

"The new service will offer customers greater choice and flexibility than the current service without being Dine on Demand," a spokesman for Cathay Pacific told Australian Business Traveller. "Our customers have told us that improving the quality, presentation and choice of food served onboard are the most important priorities."

Cabin crew will attend "a comprehensive two-day training programme to support them as the stars of the show," according to the staff brief. "The training comprises three modules focusing on: service philosophy, galley facilitation and service delivery in the cabin."

Cathay Pacific's new business class dining rollout

The airline will debut the new business class meal service on flights between Hong Kong and Chicago in July, followed by London Gatwick in August.

September will see Frankfurt, Manchester and the new Washington Airbus A350-1000 service come online; Amsterdam, Paris and Johannesburg join the party in October; Madrid, Brussels and Barcelona in November; and London Heathrow in time for an inflight Christmas feast in December.

Cathay Pacific expects the new business class meal service to be in place on all "long and ultra-long haul routes" by mid-2019, explaining it will focus on those long international flights "as we believe it is most valued on these flights by customers. Eventually all flights will feature some elements of the new service."

"In a competitive environment we must continue to invest and grow as a full service and premium airline. The new service is a step change and gives our customers what they are asking for. It aims to cater for the changing needs of the premium passenger and help us win more customers."

Cathay Pacific was approached for comment but had not responded by the time this article was published.

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.

mviy

mviy

05 May 2016

Total posts 527

As First Class becomes available on less and less routes, the opportunities for airlines from improving Business class are significant.

eminere

eminere

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1132

SQ has been doing this type of meal service in J for years.

Pcoder

Pcoder

14 Oct 2016

Total posts 49

I flew a few J legs on Cx late last year and the number one thing they need to change is how the main is done.

They seem to cook the main in the one bowl, which meant when they reheated the meal on the plane, many components are overcooked, which lead to a meal that was much worse then many economy meals I've had.

They need to reheat the meat and veg separately and plate on the plane. Other improvements can be made, but I think this is the most important one.

Michael Kao

Michael Kao

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

06 Nov 2014

Total posts 339

Agree. It doesn't have to be done on demand but at least the mains should not be reheated on a tray cover by aluminum foil. The presentation just looks more Y than J. If SQ can do it so can CX.

kiwiwings

kiwiwings

Air New Zealand - Airpoints

10 Aug 2015

Total posts 78

That's fascinating insight. I never thought about how my food was prepared.

074061

074061

Cathay Pacific - Asia Miles

25 Apr 2013

Total posts 544

I agree with plating on the plane. I've actually had perfectly cooked proteins on my last few flights with Cathay Pacific. But they were sloppily presented in the porcelain bowl, which is so irritating – they have so much potential to make their food look nice on a round plate or something, so it's such a wasted opportunity to cook something perfectly, and present it sloppily (not to mention that by this point all the vegetables and sides are far overcooked).

moa999

moa999

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Jul 2011

Total posts 1377

What does 'restaruant style' even mean?

They sure as anything won't be cooked on restaurant grade equipment.

Skipp

Skipp

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

20 Aug 2012

Total posts 126

It hopefully means having salt and pepper available on your tray rather than always having to ask for it!

Michael Kao

Michael Kao

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

06 Nov 2014

Total posts 339

I once flew TG F and they took the salt and pepper shakers away as soon as I was done with caviar.

Maybe some Asian carriers aren't too familiar with western meal?

MarkivJ

MarkivJ

22 Jan 2018

Total posts 64

+1

They do deliver food individually and not off the trolley. So what additional things will they be doing (outside of improving quality of food) that’ll elevate the experience to “restaurant style”? I hope t doesn’t mean longer waits!

AJW

AJW

16 Nov 2011

Total posts 511

I don’t recall that on my last CX flight. I recall them wheeling a trolley down the isle and picking the dishes out, taking foil off and serving in in front of the passenger. Whereas most airlines these days will deliver each meal individually from the galley in the final presentation state.

sgb

sgb

Emirates Airlines - Skywards

30 Nov 2015

Total posts 745

It would be 'nice' to have food presented in J that looks more alluring than a Y salad.

sra35

sra35

QF

02 Oct 2012

Total posts 38

Restaurant style means your main course served on a plate and not slopped into a ramekin and wheeled down the cabin on a trolley. CX have been way behind in this area for at least the last 4 or 5 years

wanderingvan

wanderingvan

01 Feb 2018

Total posts 34

I actually refer this way, you can see the dishes and pick out which one most appealing rather than replying on the menu description and hope the plate slopped onto your table is the one you have in mind.

Zac

Zac

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

23 May 2014

Total posts 129

It is a great time to be a business class passenger

MarkJohnSon Banned

MarkJohnSon Banned

19 Jan 2018

Total posts 90

Regular posters on here will know I am a big advocate of CX and what they're preaching.

Generally, they are doing great things. However, one area that has been a veritable disaster in their offering is the J class food.

It's about time they fix it up!

MarkivJ

MarkivJ

22 Jan 2018

Total posts 64

Agree! I flew YVR-BLR last month and the Hindu veg meal was nothing to write home about. BA does it way better! (Yes, I said BA).

wanderingvan

wanderingvan

01 Feb 2018

Total posts 34

Great catchy headline but where the substance.

I am shock to learn that all the meals I had with CX in J were anything but restaurant quality.

mamunr

mamunr

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 Apr 2018

Total posts 2

This has been a long time coming. The presentation of the meals on CX business have been nothing to write home about (served in Ramekins not plates etc), not to mention the lack of flexibility of when you want to eat.

346

346

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 May 2017

Total posts 87

Honestly, the least important about a flight is the food for me.
But hey, that's just me

Zac

Zac

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

23 May 2014

Total posts 129

I guess everyone is different - it's one of the most important for me and I take it in to consideration when choosing who to fly.. YMMV

346

346

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 May 2017

Total posts 87

Interesting, as usually I eat something prior to boarding, so I am never really hungry in the plane. And if I am (long haul), I find basically anything will suffice. It all tastes the same up there anyway.

melbcollege

melbcollege

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

07 May 2016

Total posts 16

where is Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane? why Australia is always the last????

highflyer

highflyer

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Apr 2012

Total posts 301

probably because Cathay doesn't consider Australia routes to be "long and ultra-long haul routes".... mainly 8-9 hour flights...some may even argue regional...

longwayaway

longwayaway

27 Aug 2017

Total posts 17

I recommend the pan fried supreme of corn fed pigeon that’s flabeyed in the isle. The four foot high flames are quite spectacular.

CBR boy

CBR boy

12 Feb 2015

Total posts 85

'flabeyed in the isle' sounds like the pigeon stayed up too late on its beach holiday.

Ben612

Ben612

20 Apr 2018

Total posts 3

Meals have always been the disappointing part of an otherwise superior J class, and it always struck me that it looked like everything was heated altogether (exception was pork ribs HKG to SYD, they were yumm-o!)

vino147

vino147

Emirates Airlines - Skywards

19 Mar 2018

Total posts 5

Jet Airways offers Dine on Demand on a short hop from Hong Kong to Mumbai and vice versa. They even have an extensive Tea Menu and Popcorn. So what's Cathay's problem??

crosscourt

crosscourt

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer - Chairmans Lounge

01 Sep 2011

Total posts 351

What Cathay needs to pay attention to is their ground service, especially in HKG. I've found them to be woeful if ever there is an issue that needs attention. They cannot handle it. Recently I've needed wheelchair service and they are shocking - that's just one aspect. Sort those things then attend to so-called restaurant dining.

Covvers

Covvers

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

19 Jan 2018

Total posts 96

The proof of the pudding will, of course, be in the eating. I’ll reserve judgement until I can actually taste these new offerings.

 

The description of the food as being “restaurant style” is just meaningless marketing dross. No airline I have flown with has ever provided food which approaches the standard of any half decent restaurant.

embee

embee

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

21 May 2012

Total posts 1

CX definitely needs to lift its game on food. Their offering in the half a dozen sectors I've flown with them recently (in Y and J) has been tolerable at best and downright inedible at worst - particularly out of HKG which I find quite surprising.

Pcoder

Pcoder

14 Oct 2016

Total posts 49

It's good to see that they have decided to plate meals. Hopefully now they can cook the elements separately to prevent overcooking and other one ramekin related issues.

longwayaway

longwayaway

27 Aug 2017

Total posts 17

The problem with offering a large variety of food is that they’ll run out of your favourite 3 rows before it’s your turn. If there was a published menu with a favourite that stood out, to then be able order it say 24 hours before blast-off would be great. If astronauts order food in a tube months in advance, surely Joe Soap can be given options anytime between booking and 24 hours before boarding. Anything is better than the current uncovered food trolley with people coughing, sneezing, spitting and leaning over it with food getting colder at the inverted square rate of the number of rows it has passed. By the time people are aware of the trolley and fumbled with their headset and manage to pause the movie, they’ve forgotten what they decided from the menu they’ve misplaced. They change their mind and go for the dark lump instead of the sliced blob. Does the new service involve new galleys or are we waiting for say the A350? I’m intrigued as to how the order of roll-out was established. Perhaps people commuting to and from Chicago are much more discerning and important than we lumpenproletariat down in Melbourne. Ho hum.

Food on an airline plate is food on an airline plate. Why aren't F and J given the same? F could have a plate embossed with a silly “F in a crest” so they feel superior and not hard done by. All the stuff is put together by DoorWhatnot anyway. Coagulants, thickeners, Polysorbate 80, emollients, gels, colouring, Trilithrazinedildothryntahyde, Zythroatrazate, E221, E320, MSG/E621, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Peanut Allergy Enhancer …..umm yumee … … all positioned around the plate to sell a comforting message.

With satellite technology and immigration profiling, I’d much rather see immigration formalities dealt with in flight or better still by someone as one boards or earlier. Demarcation; you drill the hole and I’ll push the wire through mentality prevails. Have you noticed; everything is absolutely fantastic for everybody except the customer.

Oh, departing Melbourne a month ago with a Cathay priority piece of cardboard, one didn’t find out you were in the wrong lane until you had turned the corner. 50/50 chance there. Not to worry as the fence ended long before the security X-ray machines allowing all comers to crossover to where the queue was shortest. What a joke. It’s time for a child of 5 to be brought in to sort this rolling mayhem out.

MissBasset

MissBasset

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

31 Aug 2012

Total posts 194

Maybe they should refer to it as cafeteria-style food service as it comes on a cafeteria tray. Seems like the clean white tablecloth has been banished from J forever; let's hope they actually clean them sometimes!


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