By Nikos Loukas, InflightFeed article updated December 2013
11 April 2013 | Latvia-based low-cost carrier airBaltic is known for churning out attention-grabbing innovations. Along with differentiating its Business Class by serving passengers a 3-course meal based on organic, seasonal products from local Latvian farmers, freshly brewed Nespresso coffee, airBaltic has come up with a host of innovative ancillary products, a taxi and bike-sharing operation, and the airline has been one of the first to launch a ‘social seating’ service.
Mix ‘n match
To help increase revenues for their buy-on-board program, airBaltic’s latest ancillary initiative is a novel food ordering system that allows customers to customize their in-flight meal when they book their seat. During the pre-order process passengers can choose from a wide range of meal options, as well as drinks and desserts, and virtually ‘drag and drop’ their preferred meal items onto a digital airline tray, with their chosen meal served to them during the flight. The service was ‘soft launched’ in May 2013 followed by a full launch in October.
Passengers using the ‘airBalticMeal’ service can choose from a variety of more than 70 pre-order meal options onto their virtual tray, including vegetable risotto, fish souvlaki, teriyaki salmon, grilled pork or chicken breast, served with one of nine salads and one of nine types of dessert, and a drink of choice. The inflight meals can be pre-ordered during the flight booking, or any other time no later than 48 hours before departure, and hot meals are priced from EUR 7 to 12 and salads from EUR 5 to 8.
And as consumers become more conscious of what they are eating, each menu items offers nutritional information allowing passengers to make an informed inflight meal decision.
AirBaltic’s customized meal ordering system is has been developed together with LSG SkyChefs, whose facility at Riga Airport produces approximately 4,500 meals a day and who guarantees each passenger will see his or her customized meal delivered on board – if ordered at least 48 hours prior to departure.
According to Janis Vanags, airBaltic’s VP Corporate Communications, the personalized pre-order system has generated a lot of media attention from around the world, and even before the launch of the new service the Latvia-based carrier saw levels of its existing pre-order service rise three times because of the buzz surrounding its new offer.
The airBalticMeal service has seen a positive uptake since its full launch in October because the option to personalize ones meal is simply a better product than the limited choice that was available before, says Vanags. “We thought it would be fun and interesting for passengers to select exactly what they would like to eat before their flight.”