Why Singapore Airlines’ paper box meals are a really bad idea

Singapore Airlines is contemplating switching to paper-based serviceware in Premium Economy and Economy. That would be a huge mistake.

Earlier this week, Singapore Airlines broke the internet when it announced a trial of paper-based serviceware for medium and long-haul flights in Economy and Premium Economy Class. 

Singapore Airlines’ new paper-based serviceware

The scorn was swift and merciless (and predictable). “Looks like SAF cookhouse food”, “Coming soon: return your own tray after eating”, and “You guys misspelled ‘Scoot'” are some of the choice zingers– and those are just the ones polite enough to publish. If you’re part of the SIA social media team, chances are the past few days have been rough for you. 

There’s a lot of misconceptions floating out there, so perhaps it’s good to clarify a few things upfront:

  • These rectangular paper boxes are intended for medium and long-haul flights in Economy and Premium Economy Class. Short-haul Economy Class flights will continue to use the square paper boxes and bamboo cutlery introduced in December 2020
 EconomyPremium Economy
Short-haul
(<3.5 hrs)
Not offered on short-haul routes
Medium & Long-haul
(≥3.5 hrs)
  • Passengers will continue to receive metal cutlery in all cabins, except short-haul Economy Class flights (<3.5 hours) where bamboo cutlery is now the norm
  • This is not a permanent switch, at least not yet. Singapore Airlines plans to run this as a trial on selected routes from 1-25 March 2023, after which it will restore the current serviceware while it evaluates feedback
✈️ SIA New Serviceware Trial
(1-25 Mar 2023)
  • 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)
*Already commenced from 16 Feb 2023
  • Portion sizes will remain the same. I remember this being a concern back in December 2020 when the square paper boxes made their debut; it got to the point where Singapore Airlines had to produce a video refuting the claim

And yet, so visceral has been the reaction that damage control is already underway. In comments provided to CNA, an SIA spokesperson reiterated the benefits of the new containers, while rejecting accusations of cost-cutting.

 

The spokesperson also provided some clarifications regarding the serviceware and rejected the suggestion that the new containers would help to cut costs.

“The new serviceware is made of Forest Stewardship Council-certified paper, and will replace the disposable plastic casserole dish,” the spokesperson said.

“This will help to reduce the amount of single-use plastics on board the aircraft … there are no cost savings by switching to the new serviceware from the casserole dish.”

ELEVATE ONBOARD DINING EXPERIENCE

SIA senior vice president for customer experience Yeoh Phee Teik said that the new containers in fact cost more than the serviceware the airline currently uses.

“This trial is part of SIA’s continuous pursuit to elevate the onboard dining experience. We have spent many months and invested resources in developing this new serviceware,” he said in a note sent to the media.

“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.

“At the end of this trial, we will consolidate all feedback, and review how we can further improve our onboard dining experience.”

I have to say, I’m very surprised by the claim there’s no cost savings to be had. Even if the new paper boxes represent a recurring cost, there’ll surely there’ll be substantial ongoing savings from reduced weight, as well as washing fewer service items. 

But leaving that aside for a moment, there was one word here that really concerned me: elevate.

“This trial is part of SIA’s continuous pursuit to elevate the onboard dining experience. We have spent many months and invested resources in developing this new serviceware,” he said in a note sent to the media.

Now, I haven’t seen or touched these boxes in a real-world setting yet. For all I know, they could very well be better than the image many of us have in mind when we hear “paper box”. Like pudding, the proof of the box is in the eating. 

🍽️ First Look

We now have a first look at the new meal concept, courtesy of MileLion community member Joon. That laksa looks pretty decent, if I may say so myself! It’s also good that the lid can be completely removed, else it get in the way of eating.

I do wonder whether this is the right container shape for a dish like laksa, however, as it looks rather shallow. And, of course, this still isn’t how meals should be presented in Premium Economy…

At the same time, however, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to have serious misgivings about the move. If Singapore Airlines really believes that paper serviceware helps to elevate the inflight experience, there’s two things I hope they consider. 

(1) This isn’t what “World Class” looks like

Singapore Airlines’ new paper-based serviceware

The internet rage may have caught Singapore Airlines off-guard, but perhaps it shouldn’t have. 

Even though the new blue boxes are more aesthetically-pleasing than the drab industrial brown ones found on short-haul flights, the optics will always remain a problem. Paper containers have an inextricable association with cheap takeout food (why do you think some fine dining restaurants were so reluctant to pivot to deliveries even during the pandemic?), and are entirely at odds with the way Singapore Airlines is positioning themselves. 

I thought it was making quite a statement that in their latest “World Class” ad campaign, Singapore Airlines chose to feature its Economy Class cabin. Not Suites, not First, not Business, but Economy. 

Unlike other airlines which plaster their First and Business Class seats on posters and would rather you forget that the back of the bus exists, Singapore Airlines is sending the message that it’s proud of all its products, from tip to tail.

And why not? The seat certainly makes the cut. Economy passengers enjoy at least 32″ of seat pitch on widebody aircraft, 1-2″ more than the competition. They also get a six-way adjustable headrest and personal inflight entertainment screens, plus quality-of-life features like a cupholder, vanity mirror and coat hook. 

What’s more, the airline has long resisted the temptation to go 10-across in Economy on its B777-300ERs, giving passengers some precious extra inches in a 3-3-3 layout (although it’s all but certain they’ll abandon this once the B777X comes into service). As far as the hard product is concerned, the rhetoric matches the record. 

It’s the soft product that’s sending mixed messages. While good times have returned to First and Business Class with pre-COVID elements like course-by-course dining, pre-departure drinks, physical menus, and warm nuts restored, things aren’t so rosy back in Economy. 

The cutbacks are plain to see. Fruits and appetisers are no longer served with meals, mid-flight snacks are by request only, paper menus are long gone, and perhaps we’ll never see that hot towel again. Heck, even those little salt and pepper packets have been missing for years now. For some Economy passengers, this new paper-based serviceware has an air of Naked Gun 33⅓ about it: The Final Insult.

I experienced the new normal first-hand when I flew to Seoul in November 2021 and the Economy meal on this 6.5 hour flight consisted of a main, bread and yoghurt- no fruits or appetiser to be found.

Economy Class meal on SQ608 to ICN, November 2021

Before you write that off as a COVID-era blip, a recent report by Inflight Feed from Singapore to Melbourne looks little different. 

Economy Class meal on SQ227 to MEL, June 2022 | Photo: Inflight Feed

The meal was nothing special, a chicken dish with some rice and vegetables, but a decent serving of food. I appreciated the real cutlery, it would have been nice to have a salad/entrée offering or some fresh fruit/dessert rather than ice cream, but that’s my opinion. This offering is basic, and it’s nothing but a cost-cutting exercise and provides no value to the customer.

-Inflight Feed

Singapore Airlines will certainly claim that these changes were only made after detailed customer surveys and analysis of post-flight waste, but that’s missing the point: just because passengers don’t actively use something, doesn’t mean they don’t value the option. I rarely use the salt and pepper shakers in Business Class, yet I like to see them as part of the setup because it helps sell the idea that I’m in a fancy restaurant. Likewise, perhaps not every Economy passenger finishes the fruits and salad, yet delivering a fully-loaded tray sells the image of abundance and choice.

Look, we all know that Economy travel isn’t meant to be luxurious. Still, presentation matters, and a meal is one of the main opportunities for an airline to put its best foot forward. It’s painful enough to see short-haul Economy meals delivered in unappealing brown boxes, but for paper serviceware to become the standard for all Economy flights? 

Short-haul Economy meal: beef stew
Short-haul Economy meal: Western breakfast

It’s hard to see how this brings us any closer to “World Class”.

(2) This is the wrong direction for Premium Economy

Singapore Airlines Premium Economy

Even if you could somehow convince me that paper-based serviceware is passable in Economy, I’d still put my foot down when it comes to Premium Economy.

As it stands, Singapore Airlines already has an image problem with meals in this cabin. In October 2022, I flew Premium Economy from Tokyo to Singapore and received the following: 

Singapore Airlines Premium Economy meal

Frankly, you’d be hard pressed to tell whether this was Economy or Premium Economy (unless, of course, you knew that salads no longer feature in Economy!). Drinks are served in plastic cups, there’s no cloth napkin, and the main course isn’t even served in a plate- just a disposable plastic container. It’s already not a pretty sight, even without a paper box thrown into the mix. 

I mean, just consider how Emirates does meals in Premium Economy: white china, actual glassware, salt and pepper shakers, metal cutlery in a cloth napkin (that awesome Isigny Sainte-Mere butter doesn’t hurt either).

Emirates Premium Economy meal | Photo: The Points Guy

And before you dismiss that as bottomless oil money talking, perhaps consider examples from Virgin Atlantic, Air New Zealand, British Airways and Finnair.

Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy meal | Photo: The Points Guy
Air New Zealand Premium Economy meal | Photo: The Points Guy
British Airways Premium Economy meal | Photo: Nerd Wallet
Finnair Premium Economy meal | Photo: Inflight Feed

I can’t speak to how good these meals taste, but people eat with their eyes first, and this presentation is much more appealing (by the way, all these are real-life examples, not staged publicity photos). Proper plates, glassware, and cloth napkins are de rigueur, and Virgin and Finnair even provide nice mugs for hot drinks!

What’s frustrating is that Singapore Airlines has some great tricks of its own in Premium Economy, like champagne and a choice of 18 Book the Cook meals. Then it goes and hamstrings itself with shoddy presentation; serving champagne in plastic cups that cost 80 cents each is not “elevation” by any means of the word. Is switching to paper meal boxes really the direction we want to go in?

Drinks service in Singapore Airlines Premium Economy

It feels like the decision makers have forgotten there’s a kind of pageantry to inflight dining- more prominent in First and Business, though just as important in Premium Economy and Economy. Make all the jokes you want about airplane food; when you’re stuck in a middle seat on a 13-hour flight, you’ll take any distraction you can get. 

But what really stumps me is that using paper boxes in both Premium Economy and Economy narrows the quality gap between the two. Singapore Airlines should be doing all it can to convince Economy passengers that Premium Economy is worth the extra miles or cash, not make them look similar. 

Let’s not forget that Singapore Airlines Premium Economy fares are already close to what some “lesser airlines” charge for Business Class, if not more expensive. 

Return flights to Japan: SIA S$2,273 (PY), Vietnam Airlines S$2,102 (J), MAS S$2,755 (J)

If you’re a traveller who’s paid a pretty penny for your Premium Economy seat, and come mealtime a paper box is unceremoniously plonked in front of you, I bet you’d think twice about upgrading in the future. 

It looks good on paper…

Paper boxes can look OK in airbrushed publicity photos, but reality is very different

If you asked me to guess the thought process behind this, I’d say this is probably one of those things which looked good on paper (yes, I spent all night thinking of that pun). 

After all, objectively speaking the new paper boxes do retain heat and moisture better, and allow a wider variety of dishes to be served. And while there’s more than a little greenwashing going on here, there are environmental benefits arising from reduced weight and less single-use plastic (to those saying the boxes can’t be recycled because they’re contaminated with food waste, that was never the plan- they’re put in an eco-digester and converted into refused-derived fuel pellets), not to mention all the water and electricity saved from not washing a few hundred casseroles per flight. 

I’m not disputing the technical superiority of these paper boxes versus traditional casseroles. But optics and perceptions matter, and in this case, I reckon Singapore Airlines has read the room wrong. Customers pay a premium to fly SIA, and they want to feel like they get what they pay for. Seeing cheap-looking paper boxes (even if it’s not cheap at all to manufacture them, as the airline avers) creates the kind of cognitive dissonance that isn’t a great way to win friends and influence people. 

If the idea is to reduce waste, a much better way would be to nudge passengers towards pre-selecting their meal, or opting out altogether in exchange for a small incentive (in 2019, China Southern experimented with giving Economy passengers 200 miles for skipping the meal). This reduces the amount of catering required, while ensuring those who want the full experience still get it. 

What can you do?

Love it or loathe it, the paper boxes are coming. Menus on trial routes have already been updated for March, together with a brief justification for the new casserole. 

Singapore Airlines says that they’ll be reviewing feedback before deciding whether or not to make this permanent, so if you dislike the boxes, you need to make your voice heard. Look out for the post-flight email that ends up in your inbox (sent from [email protected]), and provide feedback to the crew onboard if the opportunity arises. 

Singapore Airlines, of course, is not the first full-service airline to serve meals in boxes. Back in 2014, Qantas decided to serve all domestic Economy meals in a box, eliminating trays altogether. The move attracted its fair share of ridicule, but customers eventually got used to it (the fact that portions were increased by 50% probably helped).

Qantas domestic Economy meal

The thing is: Qantas never said they were “World Class”. Singapore Airlines, for better or worse, has branded themselves with that label, and if that’s the path you’ve chosen, you can’t act surprised when customers hold you to it.

The minimum standards for “World Class” are high indeed. And they should be.

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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David

I agree very much. What were they thinking when they released this ‘world class’ add I wonder. Several problems with this idea:

  1. Their soft product is good…but arguably not ‘world class’
  2. Their hard product is no longer ‘world class’…other airlines have caught up.
  3. Their customers know and notice that certain ‘bells and whistles’ have been removed and never returned.
  4. When you advertise ‘world class’ people pay even more attention than before you said anything.
  5. No one will see paper boxes as premium or ‘world class’…ever.
Kim

Totally agree. It just send the wrong msg.

In addition, for the short haul flight, the bamboo spoon is so shallow that for the congee or laksa, it will spill out onto your clothes (and that is a deeper box). And having breakfast egg with hash brown at the bottom is also not appealing.

Cannot imagine laksa on the mid haul to long haul flight where the design is lower (despite having metal spoon). Will it end up mostly on one’s clothes?

Last edited 11 months ago by Kim
Chris

Fully agree. My two last legs with SQ (in Y – family vacation) were truly disappointing. As a TPPS, I try not to judge through a “premium lens”, but I have certainly observed a decline in the Y service offering. No hot towels. No foot rests(!), and super slim seat backs (regional A350). Non-functional crew call buttons (unless you press with the force of Hercules in a random motion), and nonchalant / non-attendant cabin crew. Taking this route would totally undermine the SQ brand and image. Bad idea all round. Better to spend marketing dollars bringing back the small differentiators… Read more »

Traveller

In this instance, world class could mean representative of the average standard worldwide? Means flying is akin to bus transportation in air.

Ravi

You should also review the post covid economy seats. Hard as a park bench and meant for guaranteed back problems

Astana

dear singapore airlines, you are my favorite airline. I still remember how different the experience was when flying with you. Little surprises like hot towels, snacks, even delicious ice cream are very meaningful to us, your loyal consumers. To be honest, I feel like Singapore Airline has been going in the wrong direction lately. attention to detail is lost. in the eyes of our customers, your soft product is below your competitors. And if I watch a flight review about Singapore airlines, there are lots of (I mean a lot) complaints about the use of paper boxes in serving food.… Read more »

A different opinion

A solution is to maybe provide the passenger with the choice pre-flight if they want appetisers, or the crew can ask them during the meal service itself and they’ll plate the pax’s tray accordingly. That way those that want it gets it, and those that don’t won’t. To reduce wastage maybe SQ can load maybe only 80% of appetisers in relation to the total no of pax onboard, its a gamble but there are for sure a minority that would never touch the appetisers. And although everyone is airing their pitchforks right now, i personally gotta respect SQ for at… Read more »

A different opinion

That is true as well, maybe SQ could’ve trialled that and see how significant the delay in meal service is and make another decision then.

Y T

Well, I’m not sure if SIA REALLY listen to customer feedback. The fact that this awful idea made into real-life trial is evidence that they fully intend to go ahead with it. Despite how much negative publicity about the short haul paper container, they shamelessly tried to justify it instead of improving it

A different opinion

A real-life trial is still a trial. If their ideas don’t go beyond their closed doors how can they get real-world feedback? And i think its pretty obvious that SQ is trying to hint at customers by saying that they will consolidate feedback after this so if the paperware really makes it onboard future flights we as customers can only blame ourselves by saying yes to this concept.

Kim

Agree with u. Based sq going ahead on the short haul paper container despite the negative feedback only convince me they will go ahead with the mid haul and long haul paper boxes permanently.
From recent years, don’t feel SIA really listen to any customer feedback.
Their air tickets price just keep going up but with reduced service etc.

Vivian Balanana

Sia should fire the people behind this campaign

Y T

Totally agree

Wan

+1

Phister

Vote with your wallet, don’t fly SQ anymore till they get rid of all these shenanigans. Take your money to more deserving carriers like Qatar, Emirates and the like.

eddie

support the ME3 with their human rights abuses and backwards views on women? nah, i’ll pass

Phister

Enjoy your crappy inflight experience then sjw 🙂

AJ.

Finnair, Qantas, Cathay, etc. are all remarkably better than those disgusting middle easterners. It’s not being an SJW to oppose oppressive regimes who discriminates anyone who’s not a muslim man and fund terrorism. You have a real f* up view if you think it’s okay to give money to those people

phister

Oh cool don’t drive a car or use any form of transport which is fuelled by oil then…oh wait.

AJ.

Lmfao istg YOU PEOPLE are f* morons. Oil is not only from the middle east smh it’s so embarrassing how stupid you people are

phister

Sure… as if all oil products supplied to SQ and European carriers have never passed through middle Eastern hands, and US/European oil companies don’t have their fair share of scandals.

Showing your hypocritical self as all SJWs are wont to do. What a loser.

Jonas

Middle East oil output makes up less than 1/3 of the world’s total. Guess math isn’t your strong suit

Corum

You really have no idea how the oil trade works eh? Check yourself before you wreck yourself dumbass.

Last edited 11 months ago by Corum
Gideon S

Make sure you don’t start to think about where they get their kerosine from…

AJ.

Firstly it’s *kerosene and how f stupid are you that you think only the middle east has oil?? Lmfao istg what a joke YOU PEOPLE are

phister

Back to IMH and don’t forget to take your medicine, else the nurse will spank you boy!

AJ.

💯 I will never fly with those airlines no matter how good they are

Gideon S

Indeed. And it is actually better for your wallet too since they offer better service at an often much lower price.

Mugenzj

For sure after this fiasco, I shall switch all my long haul bookings to either QR or EK. They have very strong benefits in gold and silver tiers of their loyalty program. Those are consistent world class for ya. 🙂

kevin durant

that’s the way bro

Gideon S

Fully agree. QSuites is far superior to SQ J nowadays even if some (ahhem) get jinxed and fall victim to airplane swaps. And QR and EK Economy are so much better than SQ Economy and are a third of the price of SQ. Since SQ J awards are nearly impossible to redeem (am waitlisted on 13 flights to Europe for >3 months now), I am now going to book Qatar Economy and doing a stopover for 2 nights which costs the same for 3 passengers as one SQ Economy ticket. The food and service are better, In addition, if having… Read more »

Annoyed krisflyer gold member

This just does match up with ‘world class’. It’s completely disjointed and speaks to an organisation who’s body isn’t synchronising together.

kevin durant

they have real incompetents in corporate

Y T

SIA is as dysfunctional as a dictatorship with a leader who refuses to listen to any dissenting voices and makes all the decisions without any input from their colleagues or customers

Jarnytha

I applaud SIA to be bold and challenge the status quo and go against the current. people will eventually accept things for what it is (paper boxed meals or not). People will still fly SIA, the SIA today is no longer the SIA of old that is always at the meek and mercy of sniveling consumers.

general

Haha! Only simps like you will suck it up and continue to pay cash for crap like this.

Bhx

Since they claim they invested so much in this, I am sure this will be made permanent after the ‘trial’ period ends regardless of all the bad feedback they receive.

Y T

unfortunately that may very well be the case

QAZ

WELL SAID, THEY WILL ALMOST CERTAINLY GO AHEAD..
This trial thing is simply to prep people into half-shock first rather than full-shock in one go

Sean

I remember the glory days when the plastic cup in Premium had a stem…

Juliana

This is indicative of everything in singapore’s administration. we are very good at writing proposals that make zero sense but great to look on paper with complete justifications. Some ideas should have been thrown out at first glance if anyone had used any common sense at all.. referring to colour choice of HDB repainting project. How some things pass through after wasting a whole load of money in “surveys” jus befuddles me..

Kaze

What’s funnier is how they romanticise cheap paper box by adding the “Forest Stewardship Council-certified” adjective.

Occasional flyer

Just flew PER in Feb. The plastic tray holding my Roasted Chicken Thigh with (creamy) Garlic Parmesan sauce was too hot for me to hold in my hands to eat while watching movie.
Looks like the old melamine containers are not coming back ever 🙁
Now SQ trialling FSC Paper box. I’m not looking forward to my year-end trip to SYD.

However, quality & quantity of food in Y still ok for me.

As for dessert, does SQ still give out HD ice-cream or only other brands?

Jace

HD in PE and above. Udders in Y.

AJ.

SIA should be ashamed of themselves. They have the worst lounges of all the leading airlines and are constantly cutting costs while simultaneously adding to our costs. Absolutely disgusting airline.

huh

I’m curious which lounges have you been going to that are worse than the competition? TPR is one of the best in Singapore, the only close competition being Qantas First, and SilverKris is the top in Bangkok, far better than even Thai Airways.

I agree there are some locations that SQ doesn’t have a fantastic lounge experience, but worst lounges of all the leading airlines?

Ortloc

Quite curious why you choose outliers to refute. Most of us will never have the chance to access TPR and Bangkok is the only lounge you can name ex-SIN which is better than the competition. Why not cite LHR, SYD, MEL etc or even worse, the contract lounges they use at high traffic destinations where they don’t even bother opening one (KUL, CGK). And I haven’t even started with the disgraceful SK and KF Gold lounges in their home turf at T2… The point is, one swallow doesn’t make a summer. Just like having excellent suites product doesn’t make them… Read more »

huh

Because I was talking about Qantas First, which the competing product from SQ would be TPR. Like I said, there are some locations where SQ wouldn’t be the best, and some where SQ are great, so you couldn’t say SQ has the worst of ALL airlines.

KF Gold is made for Economy class passengers with status, can you name one other airline that builds lounges for Economy class?

Ortloc

The OP was referring to lounges in general, but you decided to cherry-pick and showcase TPR to refute his entire claim. Again, I stand by my reason that one swallow does not make a summer. Lufthansa has Senator Lounges for Star Alliance Gold passengers. Hope that answers your query. FYI, KF Gold lounges are not for economy class passengers per se, but for Star Alliance Gold passengers flying on the SA network. Lounge access for gold members is a requirement for all Star Alliance partners. Many partners choose to allow SA Gold passengers into their business class lounge but SQ,… Read more »

QAZ

Well said!

beezelbub

Something to be said though if the SQ’s best lounge (TPR) even has competitors at Changi. Personally both QF First and Qatar Business lounge beats TPR in most areas, especially food. Worst lounges of all leading airlines is probably unfair but for a premium airline (World Class btw lol) losing in the lounge game at it’s home airport is embarrassing.

Korat

I’m an economy passenger with status. Other airlines let me into the same lounge as their business class passengers, and some airlines even let me into the same lounge as their first class passengers. Only sq is petty enough to purposely build me an inferior lounge.

huh

On the flipside, only SQ takes care enough of its premium flyers as building a separate lounge for *G prevents overcrowding at SKL during peak seasons.

Tiger

There’s sustainability to think about. And it’s coming in the near future…

I think it’s admirable taking the first step

Kaze

You mean sustainability in their profit, eh?

Joe

It’s a shame I had to scroll so far down to see this comment, the people on here really don’t seem to care about that aspect, as though eating from a plastic container is any better. Hard to believe this is the stuff that makes people angry.

Porter

No one cares. Go hug a tree.

Drake

It’s sentiments like this that are truly disgusting. Some people just want to feel fancy (with no practical loss) but don’t care about the damage they’re causing the Earth.

Jer

Already hate the current regional paper box.
Now they want to extend this to Mid/Long.

Where can we do a petition?

Porter

Just don’t fly with them anymore

SustainableLad

Too bad for most of you who does not support sustainability. You are not the demographic that SIA is targeting. Other more liberal countries embrace sustainability or are accepting of it, and they are the passengers SIA probably wants. Hard truths but those whining are the minority.

Joey

Soyboi traveling via row boat

Trey

Sustainability matters only when it improves company’s bottom line. If this really is all about sustainability, why not extend this to J/F classes? Simple, because it won’t fly.

Porter

LOL. As if SIA is a prestigious country club that can afford to pick and choose its clientele. Biggest brainless comment of the day.

Joe

I think you are the one, Porter, who has missed the point. They’re doing the exact opposite of picking and choosing, by doing this they can appeal more to customers in countries where people give a damn about the environment.

The fact that a paper tray is hardly making a difference when compared to all of the fuel burnt is a separate matter.

Porter

Lol! Let’s see what tune they sing when nobody buys their greenwashing BS and numbers plummet.

Ihuggedatree

Chances are SIA has a lot more numbers at their disposal – probably sophisticated analytics and models to forecast that they can gain more from the tree hugging wannabe generation Z than the whining boomers ( I’m not saying that you are a whining boomer though let me clear that up front) .

Much likelier than you claiming that they will lose a lot more business out of your hunch. Yea they will probably lose your business in this trade off. Shame on SIA

clinic

SIA and advanced metrics derived from analytics? Who’d have thought?

QAZ

You work for SQ?

Joel

The social media response on having paper in economy is, to me, annoying. Optics over technical superiority seems like an inhibition of progress – over shallow knee jerk social media reactions. If I’m flying with SQ in economy, the quality of food will matter, and but packaging isn’t going to sway my decision.

As for premium economy, I’m with you. Proper plates and cutlery are pretty much a must at the prices they charge.

Trey

I NEVER booked SQ Premium Econs because the gap between the ticket price and in-flight experience is huge compared to other “less” premium airlines. Now I have one more reason.

Tom

I think SQ underestimated how much people were paying for the “pageantry” – the china plates, the hot towel, the newspaper, the flight attendants small touches etc. SQ economy is often 5 times that of a budget carrier, and premium economy often more than business on other airlines. TLDR: Optics matter

derfner

can i speculate that maybe a former tiger airways executive somehow got into the position to implement this “playbook” on the full serviced side? lol

Traveller

Looking forward to try Emirates on J to CDG in March. Really wanted to support our national carrier but it was 2.2X the price. Really can’t imagine how SQ hard or soft product can be 2X better… Time to vote with your dollars.

Last edited 11 months ago by Traveller
Markus

Did the same, just decided taking emirates for my next trip to Europe. Even in BC, I am not really convinced of SIA anymore.
100% agree with you, voting with dollars is the only language understood. Otherwise we are continuing in the direction of premium prices for low cost quality

Porter

Have not paid for a cash fare to fly SQ for the last 5 years and counting. Take your money to superior carriers that actually want to service you.

Abbi

For someone who hasn’t paid a cash fare with SQ in the past 5 years you seem to care an absurd amount about this, the page is littered with your comments. Clearly SQ don’t care about your opinions so why do you care about their packaging so much?

Porter

Why can’t I care about their packaging, is it any business of yours? 🙂

Tony

I don’t really get the connection of the statement “SIA senior vice president for customer experience Yeoh Phee Teik said that the new containers in fact cost more than the serviceware the airline currently uses”. Perhaps the fact of weight saving and handling/washing the casseroles was not included. I took a BTC Curry Chicken and I found the serving reduced to a zi char stall rice bowl just last September. But rice quantity not reduced. Equivalent of 1 drum stick without the thigh. Based on my past meal downgrading experiences, I find it hard to comprehend this is not a… Read more »

Edison

SIA should fire whoever is in the premium or economy catering or packaging department. Judging by recent PnL, I am sure those extra plates or
appetizers doesn’t put a dent on the finance. I predict in a year time they will be relegated to 4-5th ranking airline.
pure BS .

Jer

This is clearly green washing.
It’s nothing to do with sustainability… in fact if you want to be sustainable, stop using disposable packaging.

This paper reduced the weight of the materals, thereby fuel, making it less costly for SQ to fly. This intent is for profit, not with a sustainability in mind

Captain Obvious

Your second statement answers your first statement. Clown.

David

Aiya want to save costs just say so lah. No need slab “environmental friendly” campaign sticker on the executive decision.

Bobby L

Totally agree.

Skytrax, Business Traveller….should downgrade SQ to 4-star carrier.

Why SQ doesn’t introduce this paper concept to its Business Class? I bet more social media would have talked it. 🙂

go and try the 4 stars

If you actually go and try the Y meals on 4 star carriers such as Thai Airways, you will find SQ is heaven.

Yarki

Literally every other airline in the world serves their Y meal in either a disposable plastic casserole dish or paper. No one uses real china in Y. And so literally no one, except it seems inside of Singapore, will care two jots about this change.

Last edited 11 months ago by Yarki
Cup

What’s funny is that they introduced tall plastic cups to serve drinks.

Sure they hold more liquid than the regular cups but it doesn’t hold well in the existing cup holders and now it’s impossible to open the tray table without removing the drink.

Will M

I reckon it is quite clear to me that in the cabins behind, they have pivoted in terms of strategy by going after volume, rather than a premium market/experience. Time will tell whether this will work out for them and unfortunately, this is just going to be one of the side effects of that. The other side of it is that people are not so much frustrated about the fact that they’re trying to be more sustainable (if they are), and I reckon it’s probably frustration arising from the culmination of all the cutbacks over the last three years. I… Read more »

Ramnath

So….the main objection to this change seems to be about ….how it looks ??? I think SQ is to be commended for walking the talk and trying to replace usual methods with more sustainable ones which have less of an impact on the earth. On short haul flights I have been served the “paper” boxes and found them totally satisfactory. A minority of food items may marginally be less ideal for such boxes, but the menu can easily be tweaked with that in mind – airlines tweak menus for various reasons all the time, no big deal. In fact, I… Read more »

Captain Obvious

When did you become a member of the classless Nouveau riche?

If your idea of World Class means shitty plastic casseroles, you’re clearly looking for the wrong thing in a hard product.

Corum

Still better than shitty paper boxes that fall apart, who are you kidding?

Ben

As a avid fan of SQ, I am really appalled by some of the decisions took by the airline lately. Prices are much higher than pre covid times, based on my observation some routes around 1.5 times to 2.5 times more and yet cuts are still ongoing. A lot of airlines are really raising their game in terms of catering and yet SQ are still applying cuts in this area. As you said little things like hot towel, physical menu is really part of the pageantry and adds a big part of the overall experience. This basically reduces interaction and… Read more »

Jonas

Hmm I don’t like it as a consumer but let’s face it, few people are gonna switch away from SIA just cause of this. The people bleating in this thread are definitely a tiny minority. SIA would have done their math and figured out that demand is sufficiently inelastic for them to do this. So I wouldn’t say this is a bad idea, on the contrary its a damn good one when it comes to cost savings for SIA

Miracle

I feel like no matter how you spin it, economy class will always be economy class. At this level, quality of the service experience matters far less than prosaic things like number of flights, network, reliability, etc.

What i’m saying is that if you genuinely expect a luxury experience simply because of an ad that states ‘world class’ (and it seems like many commenters here do), perhaps you should consider why you are so easily fooled by a marketing spiel.

edwin

but that’s the thing no? no one is asking for a luxurious experience. they’re (at least the ones who aren’t shouting- those guys are idiots) just asking that the airline think more about presentation, and consider the optics of what they’re doing.

i completely agree that economy class meals will never be the definition of luxury, but it doesn’t mean it needs to be a race to the bottom either

Miracle

Do plastic casseroles really look better or are we just used to the look?

Hiappy

They should just change to paper plane for travel 🤣

D J

Champagne in premium economy on SIA?! I think not! After suffering the indignity of a company travel policy change from Business to Premium economy for long haul flights, I learned the hard way that its a hard ‘no’ to serving champagne in premium economy, even upon asking nicely.

yguan100

I had a flight on Monday in PE and prosecco was offered not champagne

TFSM

Has this post got the most comments in a long time ? !
Apparently , we love our plates and cutlery..:)

Personally , if flying Economy , I’m happy if I just get food.
Business of course is a different story.

Steve

Thank you for sharing this well written article. It pretty much expressed what I had in my mind for quite a long time. Really miss the old says where menus, glass cups, and a “full course meal” were served in economy. Please bring them back leh…

Pinkchilipeppar

Recently took Premium economy and asked for bottled water. Cabin crew said theu dont have it! Im also doing crew a favour bu not pressing the call button all the time asking for measley cups of water. So much for being emvironmentally friendly!

also, meal tray was a let down. It feels like an economy meal tray from a few years ago, while economy meal tray has gone down the chute along with its plastic boxes. Little details like clothed tray, clear plastic glasses over paper ones does make the diff!

Y D

I’m ambivalent about the boxes but no more hot towels, appetizers, or fruit already make the meal offering significantly below par of other airlines. I struggle to understand the high prices SQ demands when their product is increasingly inferior. ANA has a far more superior soft product even on economy, and I flew to London via Vietnam Airlines biz, which was cheaper than SQ premium economy, and it was an infinitely superior experience. I just don’t get the appeal of SQ other the superior flight availabilities and credit card miles transfers given that I live in Singapore.

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