Mark from our office was invited to the exclusive launch of the new Qantas international economy meal range at the $10million Qantas Centre for Service Excellence in Sydney. This impressive facility shows Qantas’ dedication to innovation in all areas of the product offering, as displayed with their improvements to the international economy meal service, new A330 seating rollout and recent upgrades to the already impressive inflight entertainment.
Qantas treated the evening as a sample flight, with real cabin crew serving the meal as if we were on a long haul flight. Initially we were greeted with the new Bickford's signature Welcome drink, a refreshing Pomegranate and Blueberry flavour exclusive to Qantas which will be served within 5 minutes of the seat belt sign being switched off. Other flavours to come will be a Lemon and Elderflower and Pink Grapefruit and all flavours will be exclusive to Qantas for 6 months before a public launch.
We were presented with a sample menu from upcoming flights, it has 3 choices of main including a cold salad dish. There is also a 4th choice which will be available as a Select on Q-Eat meal to order in advance online which will be a seasonal offering. All meals will be able to be pre-booked more than 12 hours in advance, a huge improvement compared to all other airlines where you can run the risk of being left with a choice you do not prefer.
The main meal is served on a bespoke tray that Qantas had designed in Germany after months of consultation. This leaves extra space on the tray table for personal items and makes clearing plates a much quicker job for cabin crew who will be dedicating more time to checking in with passengers throughout the flight. I chose the Wagyu beef cheek which was the sample Select on Q-Eat meal and also tried the Barramundi curry. Meals are noticeably larger than previous offerings and were very tasty...
The bread even has butter infused into it so that you don't have to fiddle with ridiculously hard butter packets. Boags and Hahn light were the featured beers and the chocolate mousse is from a boutique company that Qantas helped upscale to meet the huge supply needs.
Later on in the flight there are grazing options available including Carman's museli bites, Weis Ice-cream, Maltesers and new mini beef sliders.
The sliders took over 9 months to develop with Qantas having to invent an oven-proof cardboard and way to cook them onboard.
To recap, key improvements to the new economy menu include:
Qantas are reporting that meals will be served and cleared faster, meaning more time for you to enjoy the inflight entertainment, work, relax or sleep. Certainly there is nothing worse than having finished your meal to then be waiting a long time for the tray to be cleared, however, that’s a fine line to not feel rushed as well and we’ll be interested to hear feedback as to the feel here in the medium term. The ability to clear quickly is due to the size of the bespoke meal trays allowing three times the number to be stored in each trolley.
The Select on Q-Eat program is a huge win for travellers to lock in a dish in advance, a service that is not offered in economy by the vast majority of airlines. This will initially be available on outbound Qantas operated flights departing Australia from 25 November onwards being rolled out route by route (see list below).
The improved economy dining offerings will be available from the following dates:
Book your Qantas international flights now to experience this exceptional new product.