Cathay Pacific denies ditching business class ‘dine on demand’ plans

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Cathay Pacific has denied reports that it has dropped plans to expand its business class ‘dine on demand’ service to key routes on the airline’s international network.

The Oneworld member trialled the “eat what you want, when you want” concept across May and June 2017 on selected flights to London and Chicago, although plans to follow this with “a gradual rollout in late Q3 or Q4″ failed to eventuate.

James Evans, Cathay Pacific’s then-General Manager of Product – who currently serves as the airline’s General Manager, Crew Management Program, following one of Cathay Pacific’s regular reshuffles – told Australian Business Traveller in mid-2017 that the aim of the dine on demand trials was “to learn from it, build on it and then expand it across the network as soon as we can – assuming it resonates with our customers, and I think it will.”

It’s since been speculated that Cathay Pacific has shelved those plans, but a spokesman for the airline told Australian Business Traveller overnight that no such decision has been made.

“We are currently in the process of analysing both passenger and crew feedback,” the spokesman said. “We will share more updates on the new Business Class dining service once available.”

PREVIOUS | Cathay Pacific will introduce ‘dine on demand’ in business class on international routes from the fourth quarter of this year, assuming trials of the service across May and June are well-received by passengers.

The dine-on-demand concept allows travellers to select any dishes from an expanded menu at any time during the flight: or in the words of James Evans, Cathay Pacific’s General Manager of Product, “eat what you want, when you want.”

Evans tells Australian Business Traveller that he is “really optimistic” about the trials, which will run on Cathay’s London Gatwick CX343/CX344 Airbus A350 service from May 1 through to May 31 and then Hong Kong-Chicago flights CX806/CX807 from June 1 to June 30.

“I’m expecting a lot of positive comments from customers and great feedback in terms of that control over your own experience,” Evans predicts.

“We’ve got lot of after-midnight flights to all over the world, so in the lounges you see a surge of dining before they get on board” Evans elaborates.

“Dine on demand will allow people to have something lighter than a large main meal (shortly after take-off) and something else later during the flight.”

Cathay will also trial new serviceware alongside the revamped menus, while the crew on those flights is being given “specific training” to match the dine on demand concept.

“They will be very much au fait with what the proposition and very much the advocates of this” Evans explains.

“So we have those two months to really learn from the customers and the crew, and a kitchens overseas, to be able to tell us very honestly what’s working, wants not working, how we can change it.”

“We want to learn from it, build on it and then expand it across the network as soon as we can – assuming it resonates with our customers, and I think it will.”

Evans expects that dine on demand will begin “a gradual rollout in late Q3 or Q4… you’ll see that segue from the May and June trials to other ports and then building up over the coming few years.”

“And it has to be a staged rollout, you need to have staggered approach and do it market by market because of the need to train the crew, you can’t train 10,000 cabin crew overnight.”