SINGAPORE: Singapore Airlines (SIA) has announced that it will discontinue serving meals in cartons on medium – and long-haul flights, following criticism from passengers about the standard of meals on board SIA flights.
The national carrier added that it would resume providing appetizers on mid-haul, long-haul and ultra-long-haul flights and meal packages on short-haul flights.
In March, SIA launched a trial in which meals on some mid- and long-haul flights were served in cartons. The trial led to accusations among some frequent flyers, who were unhappy that the meals looked cheap, that the move was to cut costs.
With SIA recently announcing its record $2.1 billion profit, some frequent flyers have demanded that the airline improve the quality of in-flight meals, improve packaging, and restore “pre-pandemic benefits.”
Some critics have said that the issue is that passengers expect premium offerings from a legacy airline like SIA and see the carton meals and lack of appetizers on some flights as a regressive step back.
An SIA spokesperson has since clarified that certain meals, such as cheese, biscuits, and muffins with continental breakfasts, were suspended during the pandemic due to operational and supply chain considerations and efforts to reduce food waste.
Revealing that these meals will resume from 1 June, the spokesman said that economy class passengers on mid-haul, long-haul and ultra-long-haul flights with a flight time of at least three and a half hours would soon receive appetizers in addition to main dishes, meal packs, cheese and biscuits, and desserts.
Economy class passengers on short-haul flights between one and a half hours and three and a half hours will also be offered meal kits with main courses and desserts from 1 June.
Addressing the criticism surrounding carton packaging, SIA explained that the pilot program was launched to provide passengers on medium and long-haul flights with more meal options, such as laksa, mee siam, and porridge, to enhance the in-flight experience.
The design of the carton tableware was intended to retain heat, thereby improving the taste and quality of certain foods.
SIA added that the amount of food served on mid- and long-haul flights increased with carton boxes, as they have a larger capacity than plastic containers, allowing for approximately 30 per cent more food. The airline also said that most passengers who tried the new meal boxes were satisfied with the taste and variety of food.
Responding to accusations that the carton packaging was introduced as a cost-cutting measure, SIA clarified that it had not slashed the budget and that the budget for the carton meals was 20 per cent higher than the original budget for disposable plastic boxes.
Despite this, SIA said that it has decided not to continue serving meals in cartons on mid- and long-haul flights after considering the feedback from passengers.
However, economy class passengers will still be served meals in cartons for short-haul flights with a flight time of less than three and a half hours.