Gulf carrier Emirates is in a state of flux. As well as shaking up its future fleet, unpackaging business class and launching its first-ever premium economy product, it now seems that the carrier could be thinking about launching pre-booking for in-flight meals at some point this year.
What are the details?
According to The National, Joost Heymeijer, SVP Inflight Catering at Emirates, was speaking on The Business Breakfast on a local Dubai radio station when the revelation was made. When talking about in-flight catering in general, he said that Emirates,
“…will be introducing pre-order meals at some stage, a bit later on this year”
He went on to say that there may be the option for those in Emirates forthcoming premium economy cabin to choose to order from the business class menu. The carrier is due to launch its premium economy product at some point next year, rolling it out first on their new A380s and then retrofitting their 777s and existing A380s with the same product.
Although the exact specifications of the premium economy product are being kept under wraps, President Tim Clark has revealed that they are looking towards around a 38” pitch and 10” of recline. He also said they wanted to improve the food; perhaps a pre-ordered meal would be one way to do it?
Will this be good for passengers?
Why, yes, of course it will! For a start, it means that you’ll be able to preselect the meal you actually want from the menu. This will be a huge bonus for those unlucky enough to be seated towards the end of the cart service, who can often be left with only one option to choose.
Those with special dietary requirements can already pre-book food onboard Emirates flights. By selecting ‘special meal’ from the Emirates Special Meals section of the booking form, passengers can choose from various religious, medical or special dietary meals. This can mean they get served faster, and are guaranteed not to be offered ‘chicken or beef’ if their preference is for neither.
However, pre-booking that allows the regular chicken or beef dishes to be selected is something new to Emirates. A pre-booked meal may well be brought out along with the special meals, which could mean a faster service (and therefore a less congealed plate of food).
Emirates could go a step further and even allow some upgrades via the pre-booked meals. It would make sense to them, both financially and from a customer satisfaction perspective, to allow some add-ons; perhaps an upgrade to a glass of champagne or the ability to add on a smoked salmon starter, all for a fee, of course.
Why are Emirates doing this?
Let’s be clear that this is little more than a rumor at this stage. The word of one particular employee speaking loosely on a local radio station does not an announcement make, so let’s take this with the pinch of salt it deserves.
But, if Emirates do allow pre-booking at some point in the future, they’ll be in good company. Singapore Airlines has, for quite some time, allowed preordering of meals, and even offer a ‘book the cook’ service to receive meals which aren’t on the normal menu. British Airways allow preordered meals too, as do Thai Airways and Qantas.
A number of other airlines offer preordered meals in first or business class, including Delta who let you book meals in Delta One. Even United is testing preorder meals in first class on selected flights with a view to rolling it out if it’s well-received.
Aside from customer niceties, there’s a strong business case for pre-booking meal choices. Knowing what more passengers want means airlines can carry fewer meals on board, which will mean less weight and less waste. The airline is pushing to become more environmentally conscious and less wasteful, so this would be a logical step.
Do you think Emirates will launch preordering for in-flight meals? Do you think it will be a good thing? Let us know in the comments.