A Look At Cathay Pacific’s New Dine On Demand Business Class Service

Filed Under: Cathay Pacific

As I first wrote about several weeks ago, Cathay Pacific is in the process of testing out a new dine on demand concept in business class. While Cathay Pacific’s first class service is top notch, in business class I’ve found that the service feels like an assembly line. That’s not the fault of the crews, as they’re just following the procedures, but rather it’s clearly how they’re being trained. So it’s nice to see they’re finally changing this up.


Before hopefully expanding the service concept to other routes later this year, Cathay Pacific is testing out the new service on two routes in May and June:

  • CX343 and CX344 between Hong Kong and London Gatwick from May 1-31, 2017
  • CX807 and CX806 between Hong Kong and Chicago from June 1-30, 2017

As you can tell by the dates, we’re now a week into the dine on demand trial between Hong Kong and London Gatwick. Cathay Pacific posted a video about the first ever flight to feature the service, featuring their general manager of inflight services. The video says that it’s for “internal use only,” but it doesn’t seem like there are any trade secrets in there, and if it were truly confidential they should post it to their employee intranet, rather than to a YouTube account that can be publicly linked to. So I feel pretty comfortable sharing the video.

Here it is:

While we don’t get a full, clear view of the menu, it actually looks pretty impressive overall. A dine on demand menu is especially useful on Cathay Pacific, given how many late night departures they have, where a lot of people just want to go straight to sleep.

Cathay-Menu-1 Cathay-Menu-2 Cathay-Menu-3

While the food itself looks pretty good, I notice that they’re still using trays, which is a bit surprising. Most airlines with dine on demand in business class don’t use trays, which I appreciate, since it makes it feel like more of a dining experience. However, if this helps them do the service more efficiently then I think that’s totally fine.


What are your impressions of Cathay Pacific’s new dine on demand service?

(Tip of the hat to Points From The Pacific)

  1. Interesting. As a vegetarian, I find that these on demand menus usually don’t mean much since there are not that many quality dishes from which to choose.

    My biggest concern on long haul flights is how much to load up on food at the lounge versus how much to wait for the airplane meal. (Ahem, ahem, Lucky, if you ever run short on post ideas here you go ;-))

  2. I first noticed the use of tray service too. Trays for everything it seems.
    I also wonder how much of each individual menu item they’ll load on the plane. Dine on Demand is great except when you wake up and find they’ve run out of just about everything worth eating. You experienced that yourself with a certain carrier, didn’t you Lucky? 😉

  3. Lucky, did you also notice the introduction of the mattress pad shown in the video? It might be that o haven’t flown CX J in a while but I don’t recall them providing any when I flew with them long haul a few months back

  4. “Most airlines with dine on demand in business class don’t use trays, which I appreciate, since it makes it feel like more of a dining experience”

    I’ve never once considered my food on a plane — including first class on many top tier airlines (ANA, Emirates, Singapore, Cathay, etc) — to be a “dining experience.” I actually prefer a tray because spills from turbulence, bread crumbs and the like aren’t left behind for me to clean up when the food is gone.

  5. @Lucky

    Do you ever worry about the food served on board or in lounges? For example, are soups made using MSG or not, etc.? Or you just dont care?

  6. @MSG – I’m sure the food served in lounges and on planes aren’t made with the greatest quality ingredients. Grass fed, non-GMO, and organic? Doubtful. But what’s the alternative? It’s either eat the food that they serve, bring your own food (which, if you’re bringing your own, is most likely a packaged “preserved” product), or starve/fast for the duration of your flight.

  7. “Grass fed”? Seriously? The better quality used to be “corn fed”. Grass fed means they refused to pay for the corn, and just let the cattle eat what they could find on the ground on their own for free. Charging more for that, much less advertising it as a better thing, is such a scam. IMHO…

  8. On a CX tpac flight in J two years ago, I ordered a snack about halfway through the flight. The FA frowned as she served it, and within minutes, they announced that they were moving up the pre-landing meal because “people are hungry”. So they woke everyone up and fed them mid-flight, including me (recall that I had the noodles a few minutes ago).

    That’s how much CX staff hate to provide individual service. Unscheduled mid-flight serving of the pre-landing meal is how they reduced their workload.

    These people are going to serve DoD effectively? I don’t think so. To say nothing about the (lack of) flavor of the food. People criticize EY, QR for a reduction in food quality but they’ve got nothing on CX.

  9. @Robert Hanson — Have you actually done a side-by-side comparison before criticizing CX on their choice of beef?

    Corn fed beef is cheaper to raise in the US (as few areas there have the growing season to allow beef cattle to graze on forage year-round) so it’s been marketed by the self-serving industry as “better”. Cows are not made to eat corn, so the industry has to pump them with antibiotics and other medicines otherwise they would not survive on corn. And the resulting meat is generally tasteless and fatty.

    Grass-fed beef is the opposite, and tastes distinctively better. However, it’s more expensive, and therefore harder to find especially in the US where the quality of food isn’t prized.

  10. The full menu has been up on the Cathay Pacific Flyertalk forum for some time (in their J Class Menus 2017 thread), as well as an extensive thread about the new dine on demand concept. You can see it there.

  11. Copying from FT is one thing but you failed to mention the key problem, which is they only have half as many crew as many of their peer airlines do, so this DoD service is destined to fail.

  12. @jack.

    Sorry but you do not know what you are talking about. All beef is grazed on pasture . Corn only comes in at the last 2 month when cattle are only fed corn. It is called finishing and it quickly fattens the cow and marbleizes the meat. Finished meat is much more tender fattier and tastier without gaminess that grass fed beef has. This happens in feed lots which some consider cruel. As far as Americans valuing quality food , I would argue usda prime beef is by far the best in the world and I have eaten Aussie argentine French etc etc and no im not American.

  13. I don’t think that’s a mattress pad, I think he just laid out the standard duvet and slept on top of it. Good idea, although I find the Cathay J seat soft enough as it is.

    I do a lot of MEL-HKG night flights on Cathay and this would be a great system for those, because most of the time I skip first meal entirely and just have the second meal. I would actually quite like the option of having the first meal towards the end of the flight.

    If they could pair this with a SQ-style “book the cook” system where you can choose what you want before your flight, I imagine they could save a lot of wasted food on those flights.

  14. Finally following a huge financial loss CX management have decided to make improvements to their tired and outdated business class product . I have been traveling with CX since 1990 several times a year but just recently moved to Qatar and the comparison between both business products was worlds apart . Qatar was so superior I could not believe what I had endured for so long . CX offer a very impersonal J class service . The “food trolley “scenario they have employed for years and years is simply horrible …. The food arrives cold and if seated in the rear the selections have been tainted by several passengers as it makes its way down the cabin.
    The changes appear to be a vast improvement but anything would be better than the existing .I really hope they do away with the trays as it again feels very impersonal and mass produced.

  15. I am looking forward to this new experience, however, I am most concerned about the noise factor as I have experienced this previously in Business Class. In particular, during the night when passengers order a snack etc. the cabin crew are always using very loud voices when talking with the pax which wakes up everyone around them. I have found this on a number of occasions.

    If this new meal service continues for hours then I think it won’t work and people around them will not be able to sleep. At least now everyone is fed at the same time instead of intermittently throughout the whole flight. Please inform cabin crew that they are NOT to be so loud when talking. They just don’t get it!!

    Will this be just a new format or will the food be improved as CX food now is tasteless and unimaginative.

  16. They just canceled this due to crewes being understaffed for the amount of time this will incur…

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