Delta Air Lines has become the first North American airline to embrace a new style of long-haul Economy meal service after successful trials of the concept on just one route between Portland and Tokyo Narita. The Atlanta-based airline will introduce what is being dubbed as a ‘Bistro’ style service in which courses are served separately and the traditional meal tray is banished from sight.
Delta will be following in the footsteps of Australian carrier Qantas who have have been delivering a very similar meal service since 2014 and Saudia Arabian Airlines who rolled out its own ‘Bistro’ service on all long-haul flights last year. Earlier this year, Etihad Airways also launched its own trayless service in which desserts and coffee are served separately.
Developed over the course of the last 12-months, Delta says it is now only ready to roll out its own Bistro service on all long-haul services following extensive feedback from over 1,800 customers. A team of 24 flight attendants have been working with the design team to perfect the service and iron out any kinks they came across during the 1,400 hours of flight time that the service has been tested on.
Interestingly, the charger has changed shape since it’s original incarnation and now looks uncanningly familiar to the charger being used by Etihad.
The service is based on the simple principle that customer touchpoints are delivered separately and just at the right time – just like you would expect if you were dining at a restaurant. The service should look something like this…
- After takeoff, flight attendants will pass through the cabin with a welcome cocktail service
- Then comes a hot towel service
- Next comes menu cards
- Passengers select mix and match appetizers and a hot entree dish which are served on a charger
- Dessert and hot drinks follow next
- And once everything is cleared in, flight attendants pass through with a ‘turn down’ service
Along with changing up the service style, Delta has also taken the opportunity to invest in the experience and add thoughtful touches that have long been cutback at most airlines.
The welcome Bellini cocktail will be a popular addition and so too will the hot towels and menu cards. Delta will also offer customers a farewell chocolate which is an inexpensive but thoughtful gesture that will no doubt be appreciated. A nice addition is the cutlery pack that turns into a mat for the tray table.
Unsurprisingly, Delta says that it saw a noticeable increase in customer satisfaction scores on the flights where the new service has been tested. The full out is expected to take place in November.
Generally speaking, although this service might seem more involved it’s likely to take less time an reduce and overall reduce costs for the airline. For example, the service-ware takes up less room and weighs a lot less than traditional tray-based services.
The service concept is said to have been initially designed by an executive with previous experience in the cruise industry and it’s great to see airlines trying to innovate for the cheap seats. There are a lot of airlines that really need to step up to the mark now.