Many times when I’ve been sat in economy at 30,000 feet feeling hungry – I’ve been presented with an economy class meal that I wouldn’t even consider eating if my feet were firmly on the ground. Typically it comes in the form of a tray of random nibbles alongside a tiny ‘main’ meal. I remember more fondly the two times when I was lucky enough to be upgraded to business class – what a different food experience you get at the tip of the plane. On both occasions I spent the whole flight feasting on top wine (yes champagne included) and food that wouldn’t look out of place in a restaurant.
Which brings me onto this post. Qantas passengers will soon be enjoying what Qantas believes is going to be the best economy class food in the world. In the words of Qantas Group Chief Executive Alan Joyce “We have worked closely with Australia’s leading producers and suppliers to deliver what we believe will be the best inflight economy dining experience offered by any international carrier”. Now that’s a big statement – but from 2015 can Qantas feed millions of economy class passengers annually a meal that they’ll consider the best inflight economy food they’ve ever had? After sampling the new international economy food offering at an official launch event I’m confident Qantas can. If you’re flying on an international Qantas route in the coming months then you’ll be one of the first to experience the new menu. Here’s four new changes on the way that really impressed me.
- Portion sizes have increased by 50%. Customers asked for a bigger main meal inside the little foil wrapped container and Qantas has listened. I saw several dishes at the event and am pleased to say that yes the new portion sizes really are comparable in size to those in business class.
- A larger portion doesn’t help if it’s a dish you don’t like. Here’s where the second change deserves a round of applause – under the new menu the number of choices will increase from two to four. And the fourth dish is an exclusive premium offering that comes at no additional charge – like the dish I enjoyed – David Blackmore’s wagyu beef with polenta and green beans. This it really is a game-changing economy airline meal. The meat was tender, the sauce flavoursome and the polenta as good as I’d make at home.
- Thirdly, economy customers will be able to pre-order meals online right until 12 hours prior to departure. Now that’s impressive and brings this service in line with that for business class passengers. This will now give me confidence when boarding that my hunger will be satisfied with something I would choose to eat outside the confines of a plane.
- Finally, in making these changes Qantas hasn’t lost sight of those little touches that can make economy travel feel as special business class. For example the tea and coffee served with a Lindt chocolate ball, fresh fruit available for grazing, and pulled beef sliders for feasting on later in the flight.
Also I have to point out that Qantas continues to support Australian suppliers. Qantas buys from and supports over 1,500 Australian providers. As a result some of the smaller companies receive the brand awareness needed to reach new markets. Australian brands to look out for include Ruby and Roy’s (hand-made desserts) and Weis’ Frozen Foods (see below). This support for Aussie providers isn’t a new change but it’s something Qantas deserves lots of credit for. So will Qantas takes international economy inflight dining to a whole new level? My experience of the new Qantas international economy menu left me with another reason to choose Qantas. Food is just one part of the inflight experience, but when you’re squashed in a small seat for many hours food that you really do enjoy can make the whole experience much more bearable. I’d love to hear from you if you’ve tried the new Qantas international economy food during a flight – how was it? By Feast Wisely