I love good airline branding, as it represents what I love about airlines. Airlines have – or are at least supposed to have the unique opportunity to show a certain country’s culture off to its passengers. This makes flying fifth-freedom flights or one-stop itineraries especially fun (say, flying Egyptair from Hong Kong to Bangkok or Qatar Airways from Hong Kong to Munich through Doha), as it exposes you to a culture that you otherwise wouldn’t be visiting.
Airlines have many opportunities to do this – through their cabin design, their service elements, and their food. Obviously there are more opportunities to do this in premium cabins than in economy, but there’s a huge opportunity for airlines to potentially get creative in economy, which most airlines waste. Specifically, that’s through food.
On Tuesday Hong Kong Airlines invited me to have a look at their new economy menu. My expectations weren’t high, but I quickly realised that their new economy class catering is exactly what I’m looking for with airline maximising their culture immersion opportunities.
Here are the Hong Kong options on offer:
Here are the non-Hong Kong (more Chinese) options on offer:
My thoughts on Hong Kong Airlines’ new economy catering
Wow, wow, wow. Hong Kong Airlines has always been a refreshing airline, and I’ve always been a fan of their branding, particularly when I flew their business class to Osaka and back in March. However, while their product as a whole was left with awesome local elements, their food left a bit to be desired. The flavours were good, but the execution was poor on both my flights (I haven’t flown Hong Kong Airlines in economy, but I can’t imagine the food being much better as of now).
Hong Kong Airlines Airbus A330 Business Class Main Course
Hong Kong Airlines Airbus A330 Regional Business Class Main Course
Much of the problem lied in the fact that Hong Kong Airlines doesn’t really know where it’s at as an airline. They serve all sorts of different cuisines, all of which end up sloppily presented with some off flavours, which is unfortunate.
The new economy class catering is easy to prepare, and has an identity. Hong Kong has a cuisine akin to “Westernised Chinese food”, made by locals from cha chaan tengs who tried to imitate Western food but ended up completely failing and instead making a cuisine of their own. The preparation cost of many of the dishes seem low – curry fishballs don’t cost a fortune to prepare – but they look delicious nonetheless.
I’m very excited to try some of these dishes out on my next Hong Kong Airlines economy flight. The menus were rolled out on select routes since last Thursday (December 6, 2018). Now let’s hope that they’ll soon be revamping their premium cabin meals as well, which are also rather subpar.
Have you tried Hong Kong Airlines’ new economy meals?