Singapore Airlines Serves Up a Taste of the Future
For an airline that continues to be a great way to fly, Singapore Airlines (SIA) certainly pushes the envelope when it comes to giving its customers the very best in terms of comfort and service on every flight. Over the past few decades, the airline has introduced various concepts that have revolutionised inflight comfort, particularly where inflight dining is concerned.
According to SIA Executive Vice-president for Commercial Mak Swee Hwa, “We are proud to have introduced many industry firsts in inflight dining, including our Book the Cook service, as well as a pre-ordering service for Suites, First Class, and Business Class passengers.”
Over time, these firsts have served as the foundation for even more innovative service offerings for the airline. Indeed, at the 2019 run of its biannual World Gourmet Forum held last 21 March in Singapore, SIA presented a variety of upcoming innovations that will be experienced by passengers across all classes beginning May of this year.
With the theme A Taste of the Future, this year’s Forum centred on sustainability, personalisation, and an even greater emphasis on taste and quality thanks to the continuing efforts of SIA’s International Culinary Panel (ICP) of internationally renowned chefs and wine experts. Sustainability, with particular emphasis on the use of sustainable and locally-sourced ingredients, as well as an overall reduction of food wastage inflight, was initially played up at the first World Gourmet Forum in 2017 where SIA introduced its “From Farm to Plane” concept.
Betty Wong, SIA’s Divisional Vice-president for Inflight Services and Design, says that things have greatly expanded since the concept was first presented. “At the time [we introduced the concept], we wanted to do more in terms of our sources for fish as well looking for fresh ingredients from local farms, not importing [foodstuffs], and reducing our carbon footprint,” she recalls.
Today, SIA continues to promote sustainable sourcing for its ingredients by supporting local farms – not only in Singapore where urban farming has begun to hold sway, but also in the countries it flies to. Earlier this year, the airline formalised its collaboration with Aerofarms, the world’s largest indoor farming facility, in the United States; in doing so, SIA will receive a customised mix of fresh produce that will be served in passengers’ meals on flights from the US to Singapore.
But the airline’s sustainability drive now goes beyond food sourcing and now includes increased measures to reduce food wastage, as well as using more sustainable materials rather than single-use plastics for items like drinking straws, cocktail stirrers, and polybags for packaging children’s toys. Even the paper used for menus, facial tissue, and toilet rolls are made of materials certified under the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and one initiative that will be rolled out in the future is the use of environment-safe soy-based ink for printing children’s colouring books and inflight activity kits.
Wellness and mindful living have also been given due consideration when it comes to SIA’s inflight dining options. “Our customers are now paying more attention to their health and wellbeing whenever they travel,” Mak says of this move towards healthier menus. “Our award-winning ICP chefs are on board with the wellness movement with new seasonal menus [that will] enable passengers to eat as healthily in the air as on the ground.”
Beginning September of this year, these seasonal menus which feature ingredients like morels and firefly squid will be available to passengers travelling on Suites, First, and Business Class. Reminiscent of elegantly prepared spa cuisine, these dishes are prepared with a lighter touch but are big on flavour. Likewise, SIA has recently signed a memorandum of understanding with Singaporean wellness brand COMO Shambhala for a range of light yet nutritionally balanced meals to be served aboard selected flights out of Singapore.
This drive towards wellness goes beyond inflight dining. Thanks to its current partnership with the American lifestyle brand Canyon Ranch, passengers aboard long-haul flights can also access exercise and sleep-strategy videos via SIA’s KrisWorld on-board entertainment system to ensure a healthful and restful flight.
But more than anything, personalisation remains one of the biggest factors that determine what goes onto each and every inflight dining menu. Through periodic market surveys and focus group discussions, SIA continues to learn about what its customers want and what they expect from the airline. In doing so, the airline is able to deliver an even more personalised inflight dining experience for each passenger, going so far as to extend its Book the Cook service to passengers flying Premium Economy and country-specific menus that offer an authentic taste of home to those travelling to Germany, Japan, Korea, and India.
In doing so, SIA continues to deliver on its promise of a truly great customer experience.