The world is still struggling with the harsh realities of the pandemic.
Entire countries and cities have been locked down, the aviation sector has been brought to a standstill and social distancing has become mandatory.
Some have moved on from this freeze frame to focus on cost reduction, digitalization of the customer experience, automation, and restructuring their organizations in previously unimagined ways.
Come the second half of this year, airlines will be back to chasing customers again.
Most will be anxious to showcase their updated experiences, tailored to the current situation, while at the same time reassuring customers that the immaculate service and personal attention for which they are renowned is still in place.
Bring your own snacks rather than risk fomite transmission from the crew.
Anything that reduces interaction between you and the crew and you and the guest next to you in economy is a plus.
Wipe the air nozzle with a sanitizing towelette before adjusting.
Source: Dr Erin Bromage
Flying in the age of COVID-19
In response, IATA has recommended no F&B service on high risk routes, minimal service on medium risk routes and normal service on low risk routes. ICAO, on the other hand, has recommended that airlines not provide any F&B service.
So, what to do?
Nearly all airlines are planning to offer some limited F&B. Like the variance between the IATA and ICAO advice, there are major differences between the planned offerings of various airlines. Some intend to provide almost nothing on short sectors and a cold box on long – in all classes.
Other airlines are planning to offer a bag or amenity pack with snacks and juice on short sectors and a substantial single-dish hot meal on economy long.
At Yates+ our F&B practice has looked at this from every angle. We have focused on three factors:
- reducing interaction between crew and customers.
- minimizing face-to-face contact as far as possible.
- making masks compulsory for all guests to help reduce the risk of neighbor-to-neighbor transfer.
Of course, when guests are dining the masks are off and that increases the risk.
To reduce the possibilities for contact transfer, some airlines are taking all paper, pillows, blankets, head rest covers and surfaces potentially linked to fomite transfer off the aircraft.
Guests who need a pillow or blanket will be asked to request these via their app. Pillows and blankets will come in sterile packaging.
Sustainable amenity pack offered to guests as they step on board.
Pack could contain tetra pack water, tetra pack juice, snacks, sanitizing wipes and a spare mask.
Medium and Long Sector
Sustainable amenity pack offered to guests as they step on board. At the appropriate time hot meal service. Choice of two dishes. Guests choose their dish via the app. Crew can see the guest’s name and dish choice on a screen on top of the cart.
This will enable an element of sociability as the PPE, masked and face visor protected crew use the guest’s name and repeat the dish selection when passing the small tray to the window seat even.The tray should be an underplate size to minimize potential fomite transfer and present a smaller surface for the guest to have to sanitize. No other items on the tray except the sealed cutlery pack in sterile wrap.
The hot meal can be substantial, up to 300 gm. It should also be sealed and display a food safety and hygiene procedures certification.A beverage should be offered with the main dish – water, fruit juice, beer or wine. Again, economy customers choose and request this via their app.
There are 20,000 inflight items delivered to a widebody long-haul aircraft for every flight. Items such as food, beverage, soft furnishings, and catering equipment.
We need to satisfy our guests and cabin crew that each item has gone through rigorous processes to guarantee it is COVID-19 free.
It is our responsibility, and opportunity, now to make changes to outdated practices.
Let’s re-design the onboard inflight service to be more practical, maintain the same high-quality F&B standards but presented in a simpler easier format.
And let’s offload a lot of that redundant equipment.