Singapore Airlines passengers might encounter an unfamiliar sight during this month of March as the carrier is going to trial a sustainable version of service ware in Economy & Premium Economy Class.
Hot meals will be served in a paper box like a takeout or delivery option and the product announcement has not resulted in much love for the project in online commentary.
Singaporean customers aren’t exactly easy, and the idea of their national carrier serving onboard meals in a paper box caused many of the local passengers to ridicule the project.
SIA announced on social media that the new concept would be introduced on a trial basis over the next three weeks:
Travelling soon? Look out for our all-new serviceware, which will be on trial in Premium Economy Class and Economy Class on selected medium-and long-haul flights from 1 to 25 March.
Made of Forest Stewardship Council-certified paper and finished with the distinctive SIA look, the unique design of the new serviceware allows it to retain heat and moisture better than the current casserole dish. It also means we can now offer soupy and gravy-rich main courses, including long-time favourites such as laksa, mee siam, and congee on these routes. As a result, customers can look forward to tastier meals and a wider variety of options on these medium- and long-haul flights.
As highlighted above, the meal will be “presented” in a paper box just like you know it from food delivery or takeout at a typical restaurant.
Normally meals are heated up and then served in plastic crockery covered with an aluminum lid and then placed on the tray. This is the standard way of presenting meals in Economy Class and Premium Economy (some airlines even serve it like this in business class).
I don’t think this new option of serving a dish is particularly worse than the traditional way, even though having the dirty tray top flapping around isn’t exactly great, but neither is a hot aluminum lid I have to handle.
Commentators on Singapore Airlines Facebook page weren’t taking it too kindly as the Straits Times reports today:
Singapore Airlines (SIA) has said it will review feedback from customers before deciding to use paper serviceware on its medium- and long-haul flights.
This comes after its trial of paperware on selected economy class and premium economy class flights in March drew mixed reactions from passengers since Tuesday, with some dubbing the move as a cost-cutting measure while others felt that it was a boon for the airline’s sustainability.
Responding to SIA’s announcement, several people said on the airline’s Facebook page that the move will diminish the airline’s image, rendering it equivalent to a budget airline. …
User Christine Lim said: “I think what is worse is that this will be served on premium economy flights. Where is the differentiation other than the hardware between economy and premium economy?”
But another user Guo Huiling called the decision a great move for sustainability as long as the serviceware serves its intended purpose.
Responding to queries, an SIA spokesman said it will consolidate all feedback at the end of the trial and review how the airline can further improve its onboard dining experience. …
I think sometimes people have the wrong idea about Premium Economy, which isn’t really all that different from Economy when it comes to catering. Most of the time, airlines serve exactly the same meal, even in the same trays. The difference is the seating and slightly different (if any) cabin ambiance.
Is the paper box which is no doubt covered with some adhesive inside really more sustainable than the reusable plastic crockery aside from the lid, which will be disposed of?
Singapore Airlines spokesman added that:
“As this new service ware replaces the casserole dish, it will reduce the amount of single-use plastics on board SIA’s medium- and long-haul flights.
“We would like to assure all customers that there is no change in the quantity of food in the new serviceware, as compared to the current casserole dish.”
The new serviceware is made of Forest Stewardship Council-certified paper and will replace the current disposable plastic casserole dish that is covered with an aluminium foil. The council is a non-governmental organisation promoting responsible management of the world’s forests.
The trial was first implemented on selected flights to and from Hong Kong in February, before being expanded to 11 more destinations including London, Seoul and Sydney, until March 25.
SIA senior vice-president for customer experience Yeoh Phee Teik said: “We have spent many months and invested resources in developing this new serviceware.
“While it costs more than the current serviceware, it allows us to act on customer feedback by improving and expanding our in-flight meal offerings in premium economy class and economy class on medium- and long-haul flights.”
The airline declined to reveal how much more the new serviceware costs.
In a separate statement to the media, SIA said the new and improved serviceware also has a secure lid, which means it is better able to retain heat and moisture while enhancing the taste and texture of its main courses.
“The lid also allows SIA to offer our customers soupy and gravy-based dishes, which were previously not available in premium economy class and economy class on medium- and long-haul flights,” it said.
Mr Andrew Yeo, associate director of outreach at Zero Waste SG, suggested that SIA could find other ways to fulfil environmental obligations.
He said: “Based on the pictures, some passengers are unhappy about the prestige of SIA through their serviceware, which appears to be lacklustre compared to the pre-Covid era.”
The “secure lid” that is mentioned here that “helps to conserve heat” might pose a problem if hot steam is trapped inside and passengers start to burn themselves. When I get a dish with an aluminum or foil cover is usually take my fork and poke a few holes inside first. I’m very curious about how this turns out.
Passengers have indeed not expressed much positive feedback about Singapore Airlines’ ground and onboard services recently but the same can be said about the competition such as Cathay Pacific which is really just a shadow of its former self.
Singapore Airlines is trialing a new form of service ware made of sturdy paper in its Economy and Premium Economy cabins throughout March. Commentators have expressed their amusement saying it looks cheap but I wouldn’t knock it before I try it.
Online commentators’ commentary is usually vastly different that that of actual customers who paid for the product and tried it. Of course, paying customers should still get a decent product and not be used as lab rats for silly nonsense but as long as the food quality and quantity remain the same I don’t see how a three-week trial would be wrong.
One thing is certain however, if Singapore Airlines really spent a lot of time and money on this as they claim then we can be almost certain that the product is here to stay unless there is a huge backlash.