By Nikos Loukas, InflightFeed
August 2012 | Austrian Airlines is part of a growing number of airlines who are providing passengers with the option to pre-order and pay for a premium dining option in economy class. Whilst not the first they are certainly making it more convenient for passengers to pre-order meals by introducing new innovations in the passenger experience, as well as providing excellent meal choices for passengers.
Premium meals in Economy, for a fee
In the last 12 to 18 months we have seen a sizable increase in the number of airlines offering economy class passengers pre-order ‘a la carte’ meals. Only last week US Airways announced a tie up with Air Meals to offer several pre-order meal options ex Philadelphia and Charlotte to over 24 destinations worldwide making them the only American based carrier to offer such services to their international passengers. In Canada, Westjet is trialing pre-order meals on flights out of Toronto on routes of 2.5 hours or longer to 35 destinations, and within the USA Delta has its’ offering of the DineUp pre-order meal options on select transcontinental services across the country.
In Europe, KLM was first to pioneer the introduction of a la carte dining for long haul services in economy class, whilst Air France followed suit recently with the introduction of their fabulous pre-order range. More recently Estonian Air is now offering pre-order meals to and from Tallinn to over 18 destinations across Europe.
Austrian x DO & CO
Austrian Airlines’ new a la carte offering includes innovations such as being the first airline to offer paid premium meals on flights out of their Vienna hub, but also on flights that depart from New York. Many other pre-order long haul offerings only allow passengers to pre-order from the airlines home port, allowing the airline to control the product and the quality. By using DO & CO Austrian is able to control the quality in both ports as the catering provider has stations in both cities, something that some other airlines can not offer at the moment.
The most innovative element of Austrian’s new service though is the addition of a convenient option for passengers. Since moving into the Star Alliance Terminal on June 5 Austrian passengers can pre-order their meals at a dedicated ‘DO & CO A La Carte’ desk which is open from 05:30 to 22:30 every day. Last minute orders for Austrian flights can be placed until 1 hour prior to scheduled departure from Vienna Airport, the order is then sent to the catering facility at the airport. Meals are cooked on the day of departure and Austrian Airlines pride themselves on providing excellent quality and superior freshness. Those who want to pre-order their meals earlier can do so on a dedicated website.
On a similar note, Hawaiian Airlines on August 1st introduced a “Ho’okipa Desk” in departure lounges, where passengers can pre-order premium meals, snacks or entertainment systems before they board their flight.