Airlines with overnight flights – especially relatively short ones – have been steadily steering business class travellers away from a full meal above the clouds.
The go-to has been to improve meals offered at the lounge, with passengers encouraged to take their dinner on the ground so that they can maximise their sleeping time during the flight, although there's usually an inflight supper menu on hand.
From a wellness perspective, enjoying a freshly-prepared meal in the lounge is decidedly better than tucking into a galley-heated three course meal which is going to sit heavily on your stomach for hours.
Fiji Airways is the latest airline to embrace this shift, with what it calls Dine on the Ground: "a new luxury dining experience offering passengers a pre-flight gourmet meal to maximise rest while traveling."
The eat-now, sleep-later service is being introduced for morning and late evening flights out of Fiji's Nadi International Airport, upgrading the buffet of its flagship Premier Lounge to a more substantial spread.
Ahead of Fiji Airways' morning flights to Sydney, Brisbane, Christchurch, Wellington and Hong Kong, the Premier Lounge will serve an à la carte brunch with made-to-order breakfast items, a full bakery selection, fresh fruit juices and barista-pulled coffee.
(Passengers on evening flights to Nadi – which includes Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide – should also aim to have their dinner in the airport lounge, as the inflight dinner menu on those legs is being removed.)
Flights to Los Angeles and San Francisco will see an in-lounge dinner featuring "signature dishes designed by Fiji Airways executive in-house and guest chefs" complemented by signature cocktails, mocktails and a full service bar. A full breakfast will be served before landing.
Fiji Airways says that these flights will still carry fruit bowls, gourmet panini, fresh salads, international style tapas and soups. "However, by dining pre-flight, onboard meals better reflect the time of day and allow guests more time for rest and relaxation."
However, the airline cites research which found that 31% of Australian passengers "regularly skip in-flight meals in favour of some extra shut-eye" – which means that 69% of Aussie travellers, or more than two out of every three, will need to re-adjust their schedule and expectations when it comes to enjoying a full inflight meal service.