Cathay Pacific Cancels Dine On Demand, Introduces Buy On Board

Cathay Pacific has been cutting costs lately, which is the least they can do after a rather painful HK$2 billion loss last year. In a couple of months they plan to start installing their new 10-abreast 777 economy product, and they’ve eliminated many costly measures on the crew front. However, last night one of the bigger cost cuts that Cathay Pacific may implement was leaked on the Facebook CX Secrets page, which I thought was pretty interesting.

IMG_0576Cathay Pacific Airbus A350 Economy Class

Cathay Pacific plans to cancel its current dine-on-demand rollout, and introduce buy-on-board menus on certain short-haul flights.

The first part of this applies to a business class concept that Cathay Pacific has been toying with lately. The airline has worked with dine-on-demand, where business class passengers are given a menu and are given the freedom to eat anytime. This didn’t go down well with the crew – I was able to try the concept out on a few Qatar Airways flights last year, and the service was executed flawlessly with five crewmembers working across 22 seats on the 787. Meanwhile, Cathay Pacific’s 53-seat 777 business class cabins are also worked by five crewmembers, so obviously dine-on-demand was a bit more strenuous of an experience.

IMG_0580Cathay Pacific Airbus A350-900 Business Class 

I wasn’t expecting Cathay Pacific to keep up with that, and sure enough, it’s getting canceled. However, it’s also rumored that Cathay Pacific will introduce a new service procedure for business class passengers, so hopefully that’s a better compromise between passenger experience and crew workload.

Cathay Pacific Introduces Buy-On-Board Meals

Cathay Pacific is introducing buy-on-board meals in economy class on flights to Manila, Cebu, and Ho Chi Minh City, as well as the redeye legs to Singapore, Osaka, Tokyo Narita, Seoul Incheon and Jakarta. Buy-on-board has been implemented for long by low-cost airlines, and in the meantime British Airways and a few other legacy carriers joined in as well. It seems like it’s time for Cathay Pacific to join the profit party.

In the long run I don’t think eating is really a priority on redeye legs, and I guess I wouldn’t mind flying hungry on one of the redeye sectors. However, if flying a 777 in a 10-abreast configuration, I wouldn’t be able to use food to take my mind off my inability to sleep. 😉

img_2252Cathay Pacific Boeing 777 Economy Class

Meanwhile, I get that Manila and Cebu are largely used to transport Filipino domestic helpers working in Hong Kong, so they don’t think they need to offer the best experience. However, I did say that I’d probably take Cebu Pacific over Cathay Pacific after I flew them, given that they’re offering a quality, fun experience under a much lower price point. Now that Cathay Pacific’s switching to a 3-4-3 configuration and won’t even offer free food (and the food options will most likely be pricier), Cebu Pacific will most likely objectively offer the better experience (well, unless you’re flying their A330).

Cathay Pacific’s catering has long been pretty good, especially for economy class, so I hope they’re still offering hot meals in their buy-on-board menu. Furthermore, I also hope that paying with cash is also an option, as it makes onboard meals more accessible to everyone.

Bottom Line

None of these changes are surprising in the long run. If anything, I’m surprised to see that Cathay Pacific is implementing buy-on-board service before Cathay Dragon is. Cathay Pacific has a reputation to keep, while Cathay Dragon was more of an outcast in the competitive industry anyway. Furthermore, I’m surprised that they’re implementing buy-on-board service (or at least eliminating complimentary food) on five-hour flights to Jakarta, but not one-hour flights to Taipei (I could do without a meal on one of the late night services that get back to Hong Kong at around 1 AM).

In their buy-on-board options, I’m expecting hot, fresh options (i.e. not packaged cup noodles) that are of good quality, given that we’re already paying prices above the market average, and paying even more on top of that just to not go hungry. Unfortunately that’s not where the market’s headed.

Are you looking forward to trying Cathay Pacific’s buy-on-board menu?

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