See update from Cathay Pacific at the bottom of the article.
Citing the ‘CX Secrets’ Facebook group, percysmith notes that Cathay Pacific is:
- Cancelling its planned roll out of ‘dine on demand’ in business class
“Dine on Demand” service in Business Class cancelled, however, new service flow and equipments will be introduced in 2018
- Introducing ‘buy on board’ meals on some shorter economy flights in place of complimentary food
“Buy on board”” Menu will be introduced on all MNL, CEB, SGN and midnight sector on SIN, KIX, NRT, CGK and ICN
Dine on demand is a great feature. There are many long flights with late departures, some passengers will eat in the lounge and want to go straight to sleep. Others will want to eat on board. However with large business cabins it’s a lot of extra work for flight attendants, and crews hated the London Gatwick and Chicago tests.
Cathay Pacific’s normal business class meal service is very much an assembly line, and dine on demand represented a huge change — that if successful would have been a huge benefit to passengers, but Cathay has had real friction with its flight crews in recent years and apparently they decided this was a step too far in what they could push their crews to do systemwide.
Qatar does this well, of course their flight crews are used to serving full meals including hot items on 200 mile flights.
Meanwhile I don’t think a whole lot is lost without full meals on Hong Kong – Manila, Cebu and Ho Chi Minh City and I can understand that fewer passengers may wish to eat on midnight intra-Asia departures (although Osaka, Tokyo, and Seoul are long-ish flights not to offer a meal considering not just up to 4 hour flight times but also half an hour boarding, etc).
Buy on board is a contributor to the bottom line — not so much because they earn a profit on the sale of food, but because when food is free nearly everyone takes it while only a small percentage of customers will buy food (and they’ll board what’s sometimes an even lower percentage of food and simply tell passengers they’ve run out).
Taken together these two changes represent a pullback from Cathay as a premium full service airline striving to become even more so, they’re unable to improve their (already good) business class product while offering less in back — a worldwide trend for economy travel as legacy airlines try to compete solely on fare.
Update: Cathay provides this statement,
1. “Dine on Demand”
Regarding the ‘Dine on Demand’ concept, which we conducted for a trial period in May and June 2017, we are currently in the process of analysing both passenger and crew feedback. We will share more updates on the new Business Class dining service once available.
2. “Buy on board”
The media report is categorically inaccurate. Cathay Pacific is a premium, full-service airline and there are no plans for what was rumoured.
I note that they are far more definitive in saying that buy onboard will not be offered than they are in suggesting that Dine on Demand could stay.