Singapore Airlines is considering introducing a ‘dine on demand’ meal service in business class, and Executive Traveller understands that trials are anticipated to be held in the first half of 2020.
The opportunity to select anything off the menu at any time during the flight would be offered alongside the airline’s popular Book The Cook service, which lets passengers pre-order their meal from a far more extensive menu than is offered on the flight.
“Singapore Airlines is always looking to evolve the meal service inflight, whether it be a flexible dining approach or a (full) dine on demand approach, and passengers are telling us this maybe is something that we should be working towards,” Singapore Airlines Director of F&B Antony McNeil tells Executive Traveller.
However, “we need to make sure that we hit all the right spots first,” McNeil adds.
This includes making sure that the cabin crew – who are tasked with quite literally delivering the ‘dine on demand’ concept – are confident they can support the increased activity without reducing their high level of passenger service.
“We (will) take that on hand with our customer insight team, with our cabin crew, to make sure that we have the right approach,” McNeil says. “We want to make sure that the crews are comfortable in every step of the process, that we have their buy-in, and that our passengers receive the right level of service.”
Relatively few airlines offer dine on demand in business class, with Qatar Airways considered the benchmark for combining the “eat what you want, when you want” approach with an extensive à la carte menu.
Business travellers generally prefer this more flexible approach to dining, as eating to their own schedule rather than an airline-decreed timetable opens up the ability to tailor more of the journey to their own needs rather than fitting their sleeping, working and relaxation time around the meal service.
However, the downside is that while you might be trying to sleep, the cabin crew could be ratting around set your neighbour up for a four-course dinner.
McNeil also flagged that a refresh of the Book The Cook service, which Singapore Airlines launched in 1998, could see the iconic lobster thermidor make way for a ‘modernised’ version in line with changing tastes.
“Like everything, the Book The Cook programme evolves. The lobster thermidor is a perennial favourite but we're looking at opportunities to modernise that, whether it be a lobster thermidor-type of dish or something similar and lobster- themed which is a little bit more modern, a little bit more healthy perhaps.”
“People like lobster, but we're moving to an environment where people are becoming more health-conscious so maybe the creamy lobster dish is not the right one… maybe a beautiful grilled lobster with fresh asparagus or veggies might be another alternative, as long as we maintain the integrity of the dish."
That said, McNair allowed that even if Singapore Airlines moved to a lighter lobster dish, the classic Lobster Thermidor "may pop up in the future as a guest dish appearance."