How 'dine on demand' inflight meals can help you beat jet lag

How 'dine on demand' inflight meals can help you beat jet lag

Being able to eat what you like, when you like on long international flights is more than just about convenience. Business class ‘dine on demand’ can also be a great way to minimise the effects of jet lag when crossing time zones.

That’s because you can begin acclimatising to your destination’s local time from the moment your flight departs simply by eating, drinking and sleeping in line with that time zone, rather than merely following an airline’s ‘default’ inflight schedule.

I found this particularly true aboard a recent Qatar Airways business class flight from Doha to Sydney (as a guest of the airline) at the tail end a journey home from Frankfurt.

The flight departs Doha around 9pm to reach Sydney at 7pm local time the next day – that's a solid 14 hours in the air, but during which you can order anything from the entire menu at any time.

Having already had dinner at Qatar's Al Mourjan business class lounge, immediately after take-off I donned my eyeshade and drifted to sleep while most other passengers were enjoying their evening meal, knowing I’d be able to order a proper breakfast whenever I woke.

That happened to be around 5½ hours later – around 11am Sydney time – while those same travellers were now sleeping. My choice from the breakfast menu was quickly served, equivalent to a brunch on the ground.

The rest of the flight saw me catching up on both work and movies during Sydney daylight hours, and roughly two hours before landing (5pm Sydney time) when most others were beginning to wake for an oddly-timed breakfast, I was tucking into an early dinner.

Being an evening arrival into Australia and not having slept a full eight hours on the flight (by choice), I was ready for bed soon after returning home at what was almost my usual bedtime and my body-clock was quickly reset to Australian time.

I was also noticeably less jet lagged than after taking a similar trip from Paris to Brisbane in Cathay Pacific business class a few weeks prior, where eating any dish at any time was not an option: only to follow the airline’s own dining schedule or miss out on a full meal if sleeping.

As it happens, Cathay Pacific will trial the much-appreciated ‘dine on demand’ concept on flights between Hong Kong, London and Chicago in May – and given its benefits when flying with other airlines, we can’t help but hope that Cathay Pacific rolls this out across its network too, and soon.

Do you take advantage of 'dine on demand' when jetting abroad in business class or first class to minimise your jet lag or maximise your work and sleep? Share your own experiences via the comment box below!

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin (ChrisCh)

[email protected] / @ChamberlinChris

Chris Chamberlin is a senior journalist with Australian Business Traveller and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!


  • kiwiwings


    21 Mar, 2017 08:19 am

    I find I eat less with dine on demand. Usually eat in the lounge then as you say, go to sleep and wake up and have whatever so I get one meal on longhaul (by choice). If really long then likely 2 but the convenience is great. And I don't need a 3 course dinner either. I very much enjoy dine on demand and you don't feel like you're over eating either.
    No member give thanks

  • Dr Al

    Dr Al

    21 Mar, 2017 10:03 am

    Agree 100%. Dine on demand is excellent, and you can manage your inflight carb load and oddly timed (in relation to your body clock) calorie intake, to minimize jet lag. Qatar leads the field here and all others need to follow suit. Yes QF, I'm looking at you!
    No member give thanks

  • Di Ingelse


    21 Mar, 2017 04:16 pm

    Had planned to use Dine on Demand on recent EH trip from Perth to London. Choice was very limited and mainly snack foods - didn't seem to be anything healthy at all.
    I was also very unimpressed at how long it took me to get a cup of tea when I woke up on the leg from AUH to LON. In fact, compared with the flight I took from PER to AMS 18 months ago, the service seemed to have deteriorated markedly.
    No member give thanks

  • Chris Chamberlin


    21 Mar, 2017 05:06 pm

    Etihad does have its own version of 'dine anytime' but it's usually a separate part of the menu, or on long overnight flights doubles as the breakfast menu too (so you can eat throughout the flight, but the meal may well be breakfast). Can certainly vary from flight to flight and may have changed since our last Etihad flight, of course.

    Member who gave thanks



25 May, 2018 08:50 pm

Receive 55,000 Bonus Qantas Points
The Qantas American Express Ultimate Card

Receive 55,000 bonus Qantas Points when you apply online, are approved and spend $3,000 on your new Card within the first 3 months. 

Apply Now
  • Receive 55,000 bonus Qantas Points when you apply online, are approved and spend $3,000 on your new Card within the first 3 months. This offer is available to new Card Members, as well as Bank-issued American Express companion cardholders
  • $450 Qantas Travel Credit each year. Use your Qantas Travel Credit for eligible international or domestic Qantas flights when you book and pay online at American Express Travel.
  • 2 American Express Airport Lounge entries each calendar year
  • 2 Qantas Club lounge invitations each year
  • Up to 44 Interest-free days and 20.74% p.a. interest rate on purchases
  • Get rewarded with up to 2.5 Qantas Points per $1 spent. There’s no cap on the amount of Qantas Points you can earn, plus American Express will transfer your points straight to your Qantas Frequent Flyer account each month
  • Earn 1.5 Qantas Points for every $1 spent on Card purchases, except spend at government bodies in Australia where you will earn 0.5 Qantas Points per $1 spent
  • Receive complimentary Qantas epiQure Premium Membership. This allows you to enjoy gourmet food, exceptional wines and exclusive access to food and wine events around Australia. 

Forgot Password

If you’ve forgotten your password, simply enter your email address below, then click 'Submit'. We’ll send you an email to re-activate your account and enter a new password.