So it probably comes as a welcome relief that Economy Class passengers will have something to cheer from 1 June 2023, as the airline restores appetisers to selected flights.
Singapore Airlines restoring appetisers to Economy meal service
Currently, Economy Class passengers on short-haul flights (< 3.5 hours) receive one main course and one dessert, while those on medium and long-haul flights (≥3.5 hrs) receive one main course, one dessert and one bread roll.
From 1 June 2023, Economy Class passengers on medium and long-haul flights will once again be served an appetiser with their meal, as first spotted by MileLion community member Ming Zhi.
Short-haul flights will receive an additional bread roll.
Appetisers on Singapore Airlines typically consist of a salad of some sort, although on certain routes they may be more localised (e.g. passengers on SQ11 from NRT-SIN can look forward to Japanese soba noodles as a starter). You can check the menu for your upcoming flight up to eight days in advance via this link.
Restoring the appetisers will help bulk up a meal tray that’s been looking increasingly sparse in recent times, though it won’t quite bring things back to pre-COVID days either. Before the pandemic, Economy Class passengers could also look forward to a serving of cut fruits with every meal.
⚠️ Correction: Based on browsing AirlineMeals.net, it seems that even pre-pandemic the default was to offer fruits or an appetiser, but not both. A handful of photos feature both, but those could be special meals.
Singapore Airlines has also confirmed that cut fruits will be making a return as the appetiser for breakfast.
Here’s the thing though: if you asked Singapore Airlines why the appetisers were removed in the first place, you’d probably get a response to the tune of “our research showed that customers weren’t consuming the appetiser”.
I guess we’ll have to take their word for it, since we don’t have access to that data. But optics matter, and receiving a half-empty tray doesn’t look good for an airline gunning for “world class” (even if they have made the tray smaller!). No matter the actual reasons, it always leaves you open to accusations of penny-pinching.
Moreover, if you’re on a long-haul flight you’ll take every distraction you can get, and if an appetiser helps stretch the meal by even 10 minutes, that’s surely a tick in the win column.
So I’m glad to see appetisers making a return, even if Singapore Airlines does have some way to go before they can match what STARLUX is offering…
Singapore Airlines’ comments
I reached out to a Singapore Airlines spokesperson for comment, who confirmed that appetisers are indeed returning from 1 June. Additional context was also provided, some of which makes for interesting reading:
SIA thanks all customers for their strong support, especially as we recovered from the impact of the pandemic. We assure them that we are always committed to taking into account their feedback, needs, and preferences as we continuously invest in and strive to enhance the overall in-flight experience.
In March 2023, SIA conducted a trial on new Economy Class serviceware, which is made of Forest Stewardship Council-certified paperware, on a small number of selected medium- and long-haul flights.
The trial was part of SIA’s continuous efforts to enhance the in-flight experience by offering more main course options that our customers ask for (including Singaporean favourites and gravy-rich dishes such as laksa, mee siam, and congee) on medium- and long-haul flights.
The design of the serviceware is also better at retaining heat and moisture than the casserole dish, helping to enhance the taste and quality of our main courses.
We can confirm that the new serviceware that was on trial costs more than the current disposable plastic casserole dish.
We can also share that the current disposable plastic casserole dish introduced in April 2020 on medium- and long-haul flights is larger than the one that we used pre-pandemic.
This has allowed us to serve our customers heartier and larger main course portions (up to 30% more by weight). This again is in response to customer feedback requesting larger main course portions.
For background – this larger plastic casserole dish holds the same amount of food as the new serviceware that was on trial in March.
For various operational and supply chain reasons during the pandemic, as well as to reduce food waste, we did remove some items from the meal tray.
Some of these items have since been reintroduced, and have been working closely with our suppliers to bring other items back to the Economy Class meal tray soon.
For example, from 1 June 2023:
All Economy Class meals served on medium, long-haul and ultra long-haul flights will include an appetiser, together with a bread roll, the main course, cheese and crackers, and a dessert.
All Economy Class meals served on short-haul flights between 1.5 to 3.5 hours will include a bread roll and butter, together with the main course, and a dessert.
Customers will continue to enjoy a wide variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.
We are afraid that we are unable to share confidential financial details. What we can confirm is that we have not been cutting costs when it comes to in-flight meals.
Our current budget for in-flight meals is approximately 20% higher than that for FY2019/20, even though we are currently projecting that our capacity will be lower than in FY2019/20. If we add more capacity, that budget will increase accordingly
Economy Class passengers on Singapore Airlines can look forward to a slightly more filling meal from June, as the airline restores appetisers to its service once again.
It’s certainly a step in the right direction for the airline, and hopefully cut fruits and hot towels won’t be far behind (in fact, SQ has put out a tender for the latter!)
Do you actually eat the appetiser in Economy Class?
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