Singapore Airlines trials paper-based serviceware for medium & long-haul flights

From March, Premium Economy and Economy Class passengers on selected routes will receive paper-based meal boxes on medium/long-haul flights.

Singapore Airlines has announced a trial of new Premium Economy and Economy Class serviceware on selected medium and long-haul flights, which will tentatively run from 1-25 March 2023.

Photo: Singapore Airlines

Instead of the traditional reusable casseroles, hot meals will be served in disposable dishes made from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified paper, which the airline says will improve the quality and variety of meals service onboard.

(The new serviceware) retains heat and moisture better than the current casserole dish, helping to enhance the taste and texture of our main courses.

The unique design also now allows us to offer soupy and gravy-rich dishes that were previously not available in Premium Economy Class and Economy Class on medium- and long-haul flights. This includes highly popular Singapore local favourites such as mee siam, laksa, and congee, which were previously only on offer on our regional flights.

-Singapore Airlines

SIA’s new Premium Economy and Economy Class serviceware

Photo: Singapore Airlines

The new Premium Economy and Economy Class serviceware has already been trialed on selected Singapore Airlines flights to and from Hong Kong since 16 February 2023. 

From 1 March 2023, the trial will be expanded to selected flights to 11 more destinations:

✈️ Trial Destinations
  • Delhi (SQ406)
  • Dubai (SQ494)
  • Frankfurt (SQ26 & SQ326)
  • Hong Kong (SQ882 & SQ883)
  • London (SQ306 & SQ308)
  • Melbourne (SQ237)
  • Mumbai (SQ424)
  • Perth (SQ223)
  • San Francisco (SQ23 & SQ34)
  • Seoul (SQ606)
  • Sydney (SQ211 & SQ221)
  • Tokyo-Haneda (SQ634)

Photos distributed to the media show a rectangular container with a decorative lid bearing the airlines’ distinctive colours (the flower pattern is inspired by Dianella Ensifolia, one of the flowers in SIA batik motif).

Photo: Singapore Airlines
Photo: Singapore Airlines

The new design eliminates the need for aluminium foil to keep the dish warm, and substitutes the heat-resistant plastic cup with a paper-based version. Fortunately, metal cutlery will still be offered; there are no plans to switch to the bamboo cutlery used on short-haul flights. 

Singapore Airlines claims that the new serviceware will allow the serving of soupy and gravy-rich dishes that were previously not possible. I can’t really judge from the photos, but I assume it’s because the new paper containers are deeper than the traditional casseroles, and the lid provides a more secure seal than foil.

In fact, laksa has already been loaded as an Economy Class menu item for flights to London from March, together with a brief explanation on the new casserole design (you can view the menu for your flight via inflightmenu.singaporeair.com, up to eight days before departure). 

SQ306 menu

Why the switch?

Singapore Airlines says that the trial is part of its “continuous efforts to enhance the customer experience on board our flights”, but this clearly does no harm to their environmental credentials either.

The new serviceware will reduce the amount of single-use plastics, and if these boxes are anything like the ones used on short-haul flights, they’ll end up sent to an eco-digester at SATS which converts them into pellets for refuse-derived fuel. Onsite waste processing reduces catering waste, as well as emissions from transportation to the incinerator. 

Of course, what’s left unsaid is that the switch will also generate significant cost savings for the airline by reducing weight and minimising the number of service items to wash at the end of each flight. 

What about short-haul flights?

Singapore Airlines short-haul Economy Class flights will continue to use the paper boxes introduced at the end of 2020. These were first spotted at Inside Singapore Airlines, and have since become standard-issue on all flights below 3.5 hours. 

Singapore Airlines’ short-haul Economy Class meal concept
Singapore Airlines’ short-haul Economy Class meal concept

The paper boxes continue to divide opinion, to put it mildly. Singapore Airlines has taken pains to emphasise that portions have remained the same, even producing a video showing the contents of a new box transferred to an old-style casserole. But people are generally better at gauging length rather than depth, so many mistakenly believe their meal has gone on a diet.

I think the bigger issue is that the boxes have a decidedly minimalist look to them, in a drab industrial brown. They feel more “late-night takeaway” than “world class airline”, and it’s fair to say that more thought could have been put into design and presentation. 

Singapore Airlines’ short-haul Economy Class meal concept

Perhaps that’s what Singapore Airlines is trying to solve by making the new medium/long-haul boxes more colourful. I wasn’t quite sold on the optics of the short-haul boxes, but at least these are more aesthetically pleasing. 

Conclusion

Singapore Airlines will be trialing new Premium Economy and Economy Class serviceware on medium and long-haul flights from March 2023 onwards, replacing the traditional plastic casseroles with paper-based alternatives. These will help save weight and reduce waste, while also allowing new menu items to be offered. 

The initial trial period has been set at just over three weeks, but if all goes well these could become standard issue going forward. 

What do you make of Singapore Airlines’ new serviceware?

Aaron Wong
Aaron Wong
Aaron founded The Milelion to help people travel better for less and impress chiobu. He was 50% successful.

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derfner

I tried the laksa on a shorthaul sq flight… be very careful when you open the lid. mine was filled slightly too full and I had laksa soup splatter on my shirt when I opened it.

Lifshitz

+1

Dave

Glad they protect business/first class passengers from contributing to saving the planet.

Tony

Yes, with more plastic than ever.

DORK VADER

where is the like button when you need one.

Bry

Any news when will cut fruits and salads be brought back to economy?

Abc

Why can’t they use these long haul boxes for short haul then? It would solve the problems of perception, whilst being able to cater for meals that don’t fit well in the box shape (meat and mash potatoes works horrendously) but also seemingly able to cater for soupier dishes. Then you can drop that silly video that I can’t skip…

Sam

I miss the hotel towel!

Lifshitz

I have to say while the splashing sauce issue is a problem for any first-timer, the actual food quality was perfectly adequate. Defo better than what CX serves in a porcelain casserole.

JW19

Maybe the best decision SQ can make is ditching SATS and going to a more premium caterer. Oh wait a minute, SQ has significant shares in SATS that’s why they are stuck…..

Marko

You have no idea what are you talking about! SQ doesn’t have shares in SATS.

Plus there is nothing wrong with SATS, they produce what SQ wants.

JW19

Looks like the one that doesn’t is you when making this comment. Having or rather had shares in SATS was the very reason they are stuck in this conundrum.

Read into why the best lounges in SIN are NOT catered by SATS and you can then grasp what I am talking about

cumster

If there’s nothing wrong with SATS, there’s something wrong with your taste mate

habibi

Just don’t give me things that disintegrate like those junky paper straws when left in a beverage for too long.

Chuck

Paper based items comes with plastic linings. It’s bogus and simply cost cutting

Johnny cheapo making the decisions at SQ.

I travelled CX a few times recently and food and presentation was much better than SQ which is surprising as a long time SQ fan. Disappointing from SQ.

Zaos

SQ esp in Y, had long ago became less than competitive. Their halo has kept them going, however.

Jack

Sustainability issues aside, personally I have flown with SQ on both economy class and business class recently and there has indeed been a noticeable drop in both the quality and the quantity of food (the latter is more apparent in economy class as there is no longer fruit / salad – the usual starter appears to been replaced by a biscuit or a small block of cheese). I understand the need for SQ to make up for lost ground due to COVID-19 but the problem with too much cost cutting is that they can no longer be considered a premium… Read more »

Bob.

Really… less waste, more green? What a crock of shit… green washing at its finest and cost cutting at its worst… How can a single use paper container lined with plastic create less waste? all airline waste has to be destroyed, buried or incinerated, creating more greenhouse emissions etc… open your eyes people… green spin nonsense from the SQ PR machine… all delivered with the visual appearance of a low cost meal solution – Slop In A Box… Does this represent value after you have paid $5000 for an economy ticket? Profit driven via cost cutting – waving the green… Read more »

Wjin

You bought a $5000 economy ticket? From where to where? Why didn’t you consider flying another airline (maybe in business)?

Bob.

Singapore to Newark return my dear currently sits at $5229 in economy and business well beyond my dear and during Covid with no choice due to limited seats in in both cabins, with need to fly. Limited services, reduced food and drink… snack bags and boxed meals…

Marcus

Terrible move from SQ. Looks like some cheap takeaway from the local hawker centre.

Ortloc

Greenwashing at its finest. Notice how the trial is set for ex-SIN, meaning the waste boxes would have to be brought back to Singapore to be fed to SATS’ eco-digester. How green is it to carry waste back to Singapore? More likely, the boxes will be quietly disposed of at the destinations. This really calls for another Reuters investigation. In addition, I never choose the local options when they can be had on the ground for $5 or less. Even less so if they are soupy as combined with confined spaces, are perfect conditions for making a mess. Looks like… Read more »

Tony

Certainly valid comments. Verra the certificator of rainforest have been found lacking: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/jan/18/revealed-forest-carbon-offsets-biggest-provider-worthless-verra-aoe. Maybe SQ should get give miles for short haul flight for not taking meals.

Zaos

Sure. But at that point, how different are they from the next LCC?

Dan

While not exactly wrong, the past way of doing things is also not entirely green either. The utensils and what not needed to be wash using steaming hot water and dry via heavy duty machinery which uses alot of water and electricity

iloveyou

but at the very least, it’s reusable right? Those bamboo spoons were eventually becoming, trash? Remember the 3Rs, the first one is to reduce, right?

Trey

Very world class

TCC

SQ really needs to up its photography game – the shots of the new serviceware are so dull and washed out they make everything look cheap and gross. Why is the orange juice pale yellow?!

Muse

maybe pineapple juice?

Muse

Its great that many people are commenting fast and furious. I am sure SQ have an army of people scouring the internet for feedback. I would not be surprised if some intern is quietly monitoring this. Personally, I like the paper boxes and trays as long as they up the design and quality. I really like the paper cups as they keep the drink warm and more spill resistant. I dislike the lid of the boxes. Why can’t they have a completely removal lid (like the desert cover) so that it doesn’t keep hitting the face when stuffing our faces… Read more »

Muse

Lighter and more interesting Asian choices will be delightful. Some F standouts are the Chinese clear soups with morels, kale and quinoa salad with seabass, grilled shrimp salad with blueberries and honey coated mushrooms, poached pears with ice cream and osmanthus and wolfberries. Some Japanese dishes are yummy but I prefer my food hot! I miss COMO’s buckwheat pancakes. I do find catering out of LHR/HND/NRT the best. Presentation obviously vary with crew. I wish they could collaborate with restaurants like Summer Palace, Narisawa etc. A simple dish of Pao Fan will be nice, warm and yummy! The crew can… Read more »

phister

The only way to get them to change is to vote with your wallet. Ranting here doesn’t change anything.

Jack

Agreed. I only choose SQ when flying on J because the hard product is generally more consistent across the entire fleet as compared to their competitors. If I am flying Y, I am not loyal to SQ and will just go for the cheapest fare unless the routing doesn’t make sense.

hallo

I only fly SQ when it’s an award flight or if they offer the cheapest full service economy cash fares. Don’t really get why it’s regarded as having top class soft product – I’ve generally found them to offer preferential treatment certain nationalities (certain not Singaporean), and the cost cutting for what is supposed to be an Emirates or Qatar-class airline leaves a sour taste in your mouth.

Tony

The presentation of this iteration looks better than what they’ve had on short-haul.

The bigger problem is this: when is the last time SQ introduced a product or service change for the better? For several years now, every product or service change has been a downgrade or a cut, so that is why (quite fairly) the automatic response is that this must be yet another downgrade.

Lvy0971

Who is making all these terrible cost-cutting decisions under the guise of saving the environment? No, this is not the way SQ should be operating, not at all! I cannot imagine anyone paying a premium to fly on the world’s best airline for this. It pains me because I love SQ but what is going on with these god awful decisions?

Y T

Such a backward move from SQ. Just put a long haul Y class meal from Emirates side by side and the difference is just painful to look at. Stop with this nonsense and being back Y meal standard

Annoyed krisflyer gold member

Screw off SIA. Barely any difference between you and a budget carrier at this point.

D S

“highly popular Singapore local favourites such as mee siam, laksa, and congee, which were previously only on offer on our regional flights”

More local options = can scrimp on ingredient quality and replace meat and vegetables with gravy and carbs lah. There’s a reason such cheap options are reserved for short haul asean destinations isn’t it?

SQ really think we 3 years old easy to bluff siboh…

Last edited 1 year ago by D S

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