Cathay Pacific's new 'restaurant-style' business class meal service

Cathay Pacific's new 'restaurant-style' business class meal service

Cathay Pacific will roll out its new business class dining service on Boeing 777 flights to Chicago in July, with the 'restaurant-style' program coming to Sydney in February 2019 and the rest of Australia in May 2019.

The revamped service – which will extend to some 34 destinations by June 2019 – will include individually-plated meals...

... chosen from an à la carte menu which the airline says will include three starter choices and "up to six main course choices".

The menu will also include a series of 'lighter, healthier' meals alongside a 'most loved main course' flagged for each route.

The airline will also attempt to offer more flexibility to busy business class travellers with express meals and supper plates for lighter dining, especially on those near-midnight departures from Hong Kong.

Airline executives confirmed to Australian Business Traveller the introduction of a breakfast card – similar to that used by Qantas – which passengers will complete before hitting the hay, so that they can wake to what the airline described as a "hotel room-service" experience.

In addition to what's described as Western and Asian breakfasts, the menu card will also include a lighter Continental breakfast plus a minimalist Express breakfast of a piece of pastry and a drink, which can be served 60 minutes before landing for passengers who wish to maximise their sleep.

However, unlike the wide selection of items available on the Qantas breakfast menu cards for example, the Cathay Pacific breakfast card appears to follow a 'set menu' approach.

Here's the complete schedule for Cathay's rollout of its new business class dining service through to June 2019.

EXCLUSIVE | Cathay Pacific will move business class meals closer to a first class experience with its launch of a new 'restaurant-style' business class dining.

The airline says the revamped business class service is built around "restaurant-style dining, improved menu offerings and a new level of inflight hospitality."

In an internal email to staff, sighted by Australian Business Traveller, Cathay Pacific says "the new Business Class service elevates the customer experience towards the First Class service, offering a far higher degree of personalisation. First Class will continue to offer higher degrees of privacy, more space, better amenities and fine dining menus."

Passengers can expect to enjoy not only an upgrade in the qualify of meals but "restaurant-style food presentation, greater choice and flexibility and more personalised service" with the aim of delivering "a memorable dining experience and personalisation."

However, this won't extend to the full 'dine on demand' service which the airline previously trialled across May-June 2017 on selected flights to London and Chicago, allowing travellers to select any dishes from an expanded menu at any time during the flight.

"The new service will offer customers greater choice and flexibility than the current service without being Dine on Demand," a spokesman for Cathay Pacific told Australian Business Traveller. "Our customers have told us that improving the quality, presentation and choice of food served onboard are the most important priorities."

Cabin crew will attend "a comprehensive two-day training programme to support them as the stars of the show," according to the staff brief. "The training comprises three modules focusing on: service philosophy, galley facilitation and service delivery in the cabin."

Cathay Pacific's new business class dining rollout

The airline will debut the new business class meal service on flights between Hong Kong and Chicago in July, followed by London Gatwick in August.

September will see Frankfurt, Manchester and the new Washington Airbus A350-1000 service come online; Amsterdam, Paris and Johannesburg join the party in October; Madrid, Brussels and Barcelona in November; and London Heathrow in time for an inflight Christmas feast in December.

Cathay Pacific expects the new business class meal service to be in place on all "long and ultra-long haul routes" by mid-2019, explaining it will focus on those long international flights "as we believe it is most valued on these flights by customers. Eventually all flights will feature some elements of the new service."

"In a competitive environment we must continue to invest and grow as a full service and premium airline. The new service is a step change and gives our customers what they are asking for. It aims to cater for the changing needs of the premium passenger and help us win more customers."

Cathay Pacific was approached for comment but had not responded by the time this article was published.

David Flynn
David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.
 

34 comments

  • mviy

    mviy

    19 Apr, 2018 01:05 pm

    As First Class becomes available on less and less routes, the opportunities for airlines from improving Business class are significant.
    No member give thanks

  • eminere

    eminere

    19 Apr, 2018 01:13 pm

    SQ has been doing this type of meal service in J for years.
    No member give thanks

  • Pcoder

    Pcoder

    19 Apr, 2018 01:46 pm

    I flew a few J legs on Cx late last year and the number one thing they need to change is how the main is done.

    They seem to cook the main in the one bowl, which meant when they reheated the meal on the plane, many components are overcooked, which lead to a meal that was much worse then many economy meals I've had.

    They need to reheat the meat and veg separately and plate on the plane. Other improvements can be made, but I think this is the most important one.
    Member who gave thanks

    spudseamus

  • Satoshi Takayama

    Michael Kao

    19 Apr, 2018 04:02 pm

    Agree. It doesn't have to be done on demand but at least the mains should not be reheated on a tray cover by aluminum foil. The presentation just looks more Y than J. If SQ can do it so can CX.
    Member who gave thanks

    mmfsurg

  • kiwiwings

    kiwiwings

    19 Apr, 2018 04:17 pm

    That's fascinating insight. I never thought about how my food was prepared.
    No member give thanks

  • Alvin Tse

    074061

    20 Apr, 2018 11:02 am

    I agree with plating on the plane. I've actually had perfectly cooked proteins on my last few flights with Cathay Pacific. But they were sloppily presented in the porcelain bowl, which is so irritating – they have so much potential to make their food look nice on a round plate or something, so it's such a wasted opportunity to cook something perfectly, and present it sloppily (not to mention that by this point all the vegetables and sides are far overcooked).
    No member give thanks

  • moa999

    moa999

    19 Apr, 2018 04:28 pm

    What does 'restaruant style' even mean?

    They sure as anything won't be cooked on restaurant grade equipment.
    No member give thanks

  • Skipp

    Skipp

    19 Apr, 2018 08:27 pm

    It hopefully means having salt and pepper available on your tray rather than always having to ask for it!
    No member give thanks

  • Satoshi Takayama

    Michael Kao

    20 Apr, 2018 12:52 pm

    I once flew TG F and they took the salt and pepper shakers away as soon as I was done with caviar.

    Maybe some Asian carriers aren't too familiar with western meal?
    No member give thanks

  • Vik Jay

    MarkivJ

    20 Apr, 2018 01:15 am

    +1

    They do deliver food individually and not off the trolley. So what additional things will they be doing (outside of improving quality of food) that’ll elevate the experience to “restaurant style”? I hope t doesn’t mean longer waits!
    No member give thanks

  • AJW

    AJW

    20 Jun, 2018 03:27 pm

    I don’t recall that on my last CX flight. I recall them wheeling a trolley down the isle and picking the dishes out, taking foil off and serving in in front of the passenger. Whereas most airlines these days will deliver each meal individually from the galley in the final presentation state.
    No member give thanks

  • sgb

    sgb

    19 Apr, 2018 04:54 pm

    It would be 'nice' to have food presented in J that looks more alluring than a Y salad.
    No member give thanks

  • Scott Rawlings

    sra35

    19 Apr, 2018 06:08 pm

    Restaurant style means your main course served on a plate and not slopped into a ramekin and wheeled down the cabin on a trolley. CX have been way behind in this area for at least the last 4 or 5 years
    No member give thanks

  • wanderingvan

    wanderingvan

    21 Apr, 2018 12:37 am

    I actually refer this way, you can see the dishes and pick out which one most appealing rather than replying on the menu description and hope the plate slopped onto your table is the one you have in mind.
    No member give thanks

  • Fqtv

    Zac

    19 Apr, 2018 08:14 pm

    It is a great time to be a business class passenger
    No member give thanks

  • MarkJohnSon

    MarkJohnSon
    Banned

    20 Apr, 2018 12:29 am

    Regular posters on here will know I am a big advocate of CX and what they're preaching.

    Generally, they are doing great things. However, one area that has been a veritable disaster in their offering is the J class food.

    It's about time they fix it up!
    Member who gave thanks

    Gazza129

  • Vik Jay

    MarkivJ

    20 Apr, 2018 01:16 am

    Agree! I flew YVR-BLR last month and the Hindu veg meal was nothing to write home about. BA does it way better! (Yes, I said BA).
    No member give thanks

  • wanderingvan

    wanderingvan

    20 Apr, 2018 12:44 am

    Great catchy headline but where the substance.
    I am shock to learn that all the meals I had with CX in J were anything but restaurant quality.
    No member give thanks

  • Rayed Mamun

    mamunr

    20 Apr, 2018 01:01 pm

    This has been a long time coming. The presentation of the meals on CX business have been nothing to write home about (served in Ramekins not plates etc), not to mention the lack of flexibility of when you want to eat.
    No member give thanks

  • 346

    346

    20 Apr, 2018 02:52 pm

    Honestly, the least important about a flight is the food for me.
    But hey, that's just me
    Member who gave thanks

    DJM30

  • Fqtv

    Zac

    20 Apr, 2018 03:45 pm

    I guess everyone is different - it's one of the most important for me and I take it in to consideration when choosing who to fly.. YMMV
    No member give thanks

  • 346

    346

    20 Apr, 2018 03:54 pm

    Interesting, as usually I eat something prior to boarding, so I am never really hungry in the plane. And if I am (long haul), I find basically anything will suffice. It all tastes the same up there anyway.
    No member give thanks

  • melbcollege

    melbcollege

    20 Apr, 2018 03:15 pm

    where is Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane? why Australia is always the last????

    No member give thanks

  • highflyer

    highflyer

    22 Apr, 2018 01:43 am

    probably because Cathay doesn't consider Australia routes to be "long and ultra-long haul routes".... mainly 8-9 hour flights...some may even argue regional...
    No member give thanks

  • Henry  Private

    longwayaway

    20 Apr, 2018 03:19 pm

    I recommend the pan fried supreme of corn fed pigeon that’s flabeyed in the isle. The four foot high flames are quite spectacular.

    No member give thanks

  • CBR boy

    CBR boy

    18 Jun, 2018 11:38 pm

    'flabeyed in the isle' sounds like the pigeon stayed up too late on its beach holiday.
    No member give thanks

  • Ben Oz

    Ben612

    20 Apr, 2018 09:42 pm

    Meals have always been the disappointing part of an otherwise superior J class, and it always struck me that it looked like everything was heated altogether (exception was pork ribs HKG to SYD, they were yumm-o!)
    No member give thanks

  • Vinod Mirchandani

    vino147

    20 Apr, 2018 11:30 pm

    Jet Airways offers Dine on Demand on a short hop from Hong Kong to Mumbai and vice versa. They even have an extensive Tea Menu and Popcorn. So what's Cathay's problem??
    No member give thanks

  • crosscourt

    crosscourt

    21 Apr, 2018 07:36 am

    What Cathay needs to pay attention to is their ground service, especially in HKG. I've found them to be woeful if ever there is an issue that needs attention. They cannot handle it. Recently I've needed wheelchair service and they are shocking - that's just one aspect. Sort those things then attend to so-called restaurant dining.
    No member give thanks

  • Simon Coveney

    Covvers

    21 Apr, 2018 12:28 pm

    The proof of the pudding will, of course, be in the eating. I’ll reserve judgement until I can actually taste these new offerings.

     
    The description of the food as being “restaurant style” is just meaningless marketing dross. No airline I have flown with has ever provided food which approaches the standard of any half decent restaurant.
    No member give thanks

  • embee

    embee

    20 Jun, 2018 03:37 pm

    CX definitely needs to lift its game on food. Their offering in the half a dozen sectors I've flown with them recently (in Y and J) has been tolerable at best and downright inedible at worst - particularly out of HKG which I find quite surprising.
    No member give thanks

  • Pcoder

    Pcoder

    20 Jun, 2018 04:51 pm

    It's good to see that they have decided to plate meals. Hopefully now they can cook the elements separately to prevent overcooking and other one ramekin related issues.
    No member give thanks

  • Henry  Private

    longwayaway

    21 Jun, 2018 06:17 am

    The problem with offering a large variety of food is that they’ll run out of your favourite 3 rows before it’s your turn. If there was a published menu with a favourite that stood out, to then be able order it say 24 hours before blast-off would be great. If astronauts order food in a tube months in advance, surely Joe Soap can be given options anytime between booking and 24 hours before boarding. Anything is better than the current uncovered food trolley with people coughing, sneezing, spitting and leaning over it with food getting colder at the inverted square rate of the number of rows it has passed. By the time people are aware of the trolley and fumbled with their headset and manage to pause the movie, they’ve forgotten what they decided from the menu they’ve misplaced. They change their mind and go for the dark lump instead of the sliced blob. Does the new service involve new galleys or are we waiting for say the A350? I’m intrigued as to how the order of roll-out was established. Perhaps people commuting to and from Chicago are much more discerning and important than we lumpenproletariat down in Melbourne. Ho hum.


    Food on an airline plate is food on an airline plate. Why aren't F and J given the same? F could have a plate embossed with a silly “F in a crest” so they feel superior and not hard done by. All the stuff is put together by DoorWhatnot anyway. Coagulants, thickeners, Polysorbate 80, emollients, gels, colouring, Trilithrazinedildothryntahyde, Zythroatrazate, E221, E320, MSG/E621, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Peanut Allergy Enhancer …..umm yumee … … all positioned around the plate to sell a comforting message.


    With satellite technology and immigration profiling, I’d much rather see immigration formalities dealt with in flight or better still by someone as one boards or earlier. Demarcation; you drill the hole and I’ll push the wire through mentality prevails. Have you noticed; everything is absolutely fantastic for everybody except the customer.


    Oh, departing Melbourne a month ago with a Cathay priority piece of cardboard, one didn’t find out you were in the wrong lane until you had turned the corner. 50/50 chance there. Not to worry as the fence ended long before the security X-ray machines allowing all comers to crossover to where the queue was shortest. What a joke. It’s time for a child of 5 to be brought in to sort this rolling mayhem out.

    No member give thanks

  • MissBasset

    MissBasset

    23 Sep, 2018 02:27 am

    Maybe they should refer to it as cafeteria-style food service as it comes on a cafeteria tray. Seems like the clean white tablecloth has been banished from J forever; let's hope they actually clean them sometimes!

    No member give thanks

Guest

21 May, 2019 09:09 pm

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