Wow: Qatar Airways Improving Meal Service In Economy

Filed Under: Qatar

Well this comes as a bit of a surprise. Yesterday I wrote about how Etihad Airways is expanding their buy on board menu in economy, and is eliminating personal televisions on their fleet of A320s and A321s.

Today there’s another announcement from a Gulf carrier.

Qatar Airways improving service in economy?!

Today Qatar Airways put out a press release titled “Qatar Airways Launches New Economy Onboard Experience ‘Quisine,’ Elevating the Travel Experience for Economy Class Passengers.”

My assumption was that Qatar Airways would also be introducing some sort of buy on board option in economy, or that they’d be making negative changes and trying to spin them in a positive way. After all, generally if you’re going to make a negative change you might as well do so shortly after another airline does, to minimize the negative publicity.

Qatar Airways is also losing money and is under increased financial pressure due to the Gulf blockade.

Well, that’s not the case, and it seems like this might actually be a positive change?

I think this is a good time to pause for a second and make a recommendation to airlines. If you’re actually making a positive change, I don’t think using the words “enhance” or “elevate” in your press release quite cuts it, because that’s the same thing airlines do when making negative changes. Rather I think a press release needs to start with “GUYS, WE’RE SERIOUS.”

Anyway, what is Qatar Airways changing?

Qatar Airways Quisine

Qatar Airways’ new onboard dining experience in economy is called “Quisine,” so what does this entail?

  • Passengers will be presented with a redesigned menu that includes a service timeline for all long haul and ultra long haul flights, so that guests can better plan their journey
  • A pre-dinner drinks option will be available on flights over five hours, with refreshments and cocktail snacks
  • Food portions are increasing 25-50%, with a greater focus on the use of local, fresh, seasonal, and healthy ingredients
  • Meals will feature individually-wrapped “artisanal warm infused bread” and a bottle of water
  • A wider selection of mid-flight snacks will be available, including cheese and crackers, chocolate bars, chips, and popcorn; popcorn choices will include Himalayan salted caramel and French butter and pink salt, provided by gourmet popcorn brand 4700BC

A few quick thoughts:

  • The airline doesn’t state that there’s a cost for any of these snacks, in which case this is a huge improvement; if there is a cost for the snacks, then they’re being pretty deceiving
  • Does the above meal really represent a 25-50% increase in the size of the meal, in which case I have to wonder how small the meals were before
  • Airlines are so obsessed with describing their food as local, fresh, seasonal, and healthy, even though it’s rarely any of those things

Qatar Airways Group CEO, Akbar Al Baker, had the following to say:

“These latest on-board dining enhancements will undoubtedly provide our passengers with an even higher level of satisfaction and luxury. We have carefully crafted our new Economy Class experience to offer a proposition that ensures our passengers’ journeys are best in class.”

Quisine rollout

The new Quisine concept will be progressively rolled out through the airline’s network starting in April, with flights to and from Brussels, Cardiff, Gothenburg, Moscow, and St. Petersburg, being the first to get the new service.

Bottom line

It seems like Qatar Airways is actually improving their economy experience, which seems to counter the trend nowadays. I had to read the press release three times to make sure I wasn’t missing anything, but it really does seem like they’re making genuine improvements, so kudos to them.

(Tip of the hat to @conradoasenjo)

  1. As someone who is about to start flying long-haul on Qatar Airways very frequently, this is great news! Fortunately I’ll be flying their A380 most often as well as the 777 are a bit tight.
    @Kevin, and @Flo, why the negativity? Middle East/Asian carriers have not only always had decent food, but it’s also been part of the normal service (on long haul) including the snacks. On that note, does anyone know whether or not Cathay Pacific still offer their “noodles-on-demand”?

  2. *and is under increased financial pressure due to the Gulf blockade.*

    What financial pressure ? It’s got an unlimited piggy big backed by the 8th largest sovereign fund and 3rd largest proven NG reserve in the world, while every time you bring revenue to this carrier it’s either channeled over to Shitte extremist groups or used to strengthen the regime that tortures and murders LGBTQ citizens for the fun of it.

  3. BA offer similar snacks on long haul economy FOR FREE! They call it “movie box”

    So this is not a big deal..

  4. Their main meals would be the best in the sky flying Economy… though size or serving was smaller than say EY/CX and even QF on long-hauls Fromm australia. Still, this is great news and always ask for seconds!

  5. @henry LAX

    didn’t mean to be too negative but generally curious what local ingredients ex DOH (half of their flights) the statement might prefer to as I imagine the State of Qatar imports a lot

    “Food portions are increasing 25-50%, with a greater focus on the use of local, fresh, seasonal, and healthy ingredients”

  6. @henry LAX – lol… someone has been listening to Fox news. It’s laughable how those US carriers always use the financial backing of the ME3 governments as an excuse for their own terrible product. Firstly, they can go bankrupt and know that Uncle Sam will bail them out, and secondly, if the US carriers (and other privatesed “legacy” carriers) are not happy, they can always revert to government ownership. They want to be privatised and concentrate on profit with shareholders/investors, etc – then deal with it. Just be honest with customers and tell them they are only there to make a profit and the customer is actually secondary (or even tertiary).

    @Flo, yes I see what you mean, sorry about that. It’s a good question although by “local”, they probably mean local cuisine.

  7. @Flo

    I would believe that here, “local” refers to wherever the plane is catered. Although that said, Qatar has been increasingly self-reliant after the blockade, and many items on board are Qatari in origin (yogurt, milk etc) when ex-DOH

  8. EK today announced PE rollout in all new 77Ws and A380s from next year. So there’s a third announcement for you (Sir Timmy at AMT).

    Re the snacks, EK also provide chocolate bars, muesli bars, nuts and savoury snacks available during long flights (over 9hrs)

  9. Hmmm.
    Delicious meals .exellent crew service.providing everything on demand. To their guests on boards.

  10. I’m a frequent QR flyer and I think the economy meals were a bit on the small side, but definitely not insanely small or anything. A 25% increase would probably put it in line with other airlines, while 50% would put above average.
    All of this was rather moot though, because I thought the food was amazing and worth the portion sacrifice. QR’s food in Y is the second best in the sky. It’s only a shame they don’t have more of each option, because it’s not rare for them to only have one choice left by the time they get to your row.

  11. I used to fly many times eco and business on QR and the food in economy class was one of the worst I ever get in a plane between Europe Asia.
    Better food on Eco with Singapore, Thai, Lufthansa, Swiss, Emirates…

    Also the size was tiny (smartphone sized pizza calzone, is this is a meal ?) exemple between Doha and Bkk as night flight.

    So not impressed to say the least, was time to improve it, anyway.

  12. @Dennis
    I don’t want to come off rude, but that’s just pure absurd.
    Airlines are a business. As with every business – number one goal is to make a profit for the owners. Otherwise, no person in the right mind would put up money to buy a plane and fly you from point A to point B. What products a business has to offer to deliver that profit is dictated by the market, and airlines are a very complex and very competitive one. In a very competitive and non-innovative market a performing product is generally a compromise between quality and value – which is exactly what US airlines offer.
    Few days ago, Ben had a post on US airlines profitability – they all make money. Over the past few weeks Ben also had posts on Etihad and Qatar – they lose billions. Yes, those are billions that come from state backing, which is something that US airlines – or any private business – don’t have access to.
    Therefore yes, US airlines are bad because they need a sustainable business model to operate. ME3 don’t need one(yet, at least), as they’ve always been able to just grab a few bil from the state fund. We’ll see whether that’s about to change. US airlines getting bailed out by Uncle Sam? Oh yeah, that’s right. Like all those Pan Ams, TWAs and Easterns that got bailed out by Uncle Sam when they weren’t able to compete.

    Let’s not have ventures that are started by entrepreneurs and work for profit? Let’s have government run airlines and why not other businesses, cause then they won’t be greedy and evil and will put customers and citizens first? Sure, let’s try that. Maybe if we do – one day even us, stupid Americans, will be able to achieve the miracle levels of affordability and quality like those offered by Soviet car manufacturers and food farms, and Venezuelan grocery stores.

    Oh, and one last thing, last time I checked(few seconds ago) – you had the freedom to choose. Don’t buy tickets for the bad and greedy and evil US airlines. Fly ME3. Cheers.

  13. Dear readers,

    I am one of the passengers who experienced the new service on QR.
    It was just a lipstick on a pig!

    Butter for artisan bread was available on request only 50% loaded.
    Chocolate and snacks were also 50% loaded.
    It means, half of the Economy cabin did not get the products offered in the menu card.

    Pre-departure drinks means, the meal service will takes forever to be served. Cocktail snacks with pre-departure drinks was only dry pretzel packet which has nothing to write home about.

    This is not improvement. This is cost cutting!

  14. I agree with Chris. Calling what Qatar serves in Economy food is being unfair to food. It was stale, unhealthy and inedible.
    They don’t need to ‘enhance’ they need to start over.

  15. @Syd

    I don’t want to come off rude, but get your facts straight. Uncle Sam bailed out all of them and would still do. Pan-Am TWA Eastern all failed (even with subsidy) because there was enough players to stabilize the market (no bailout) and their management lost to the deregulation (dinosaurs). Except TWA, which was murdered by Carl Ichan. Do you think the UAE would subsidize and bail one out if there were ME8, probably not. With 3 less likely. I do see a possibility of EK/EY merger if the Sheikhs can work things out.

    The rest I have no idea what your rant is about. Soviets?

  16. I fly QR regularly and the economy food and beverage service is great. In fact at some points you just want them to stop serving you as it’s too much ! Not the case when I fly the other carriers from Australia to Europe.

  17. @Jamie

    Are u a troll ? or do you work for QR ?
    Too much a Smarphone sized food for a 6h30 flight, like DOH-BKK (food from homebase) ? Interesting…

  18. Just bring back the service in Y class they had 5 years ago, good portions in every service, I remember the movie snack on ultra long haul flights was Haaguen das ice cream, they had chips, chocolate bars, etc, also bring back the instant noodle soup on the japanese flights. Here is nothing to invent Soviets. Just do it, cutting cost on the food ratio was not the solution. Loading bread at 50 % to cut the wastage is very stupid, Bread in general is inexpensive in compare to other items. The economy class service before 2014 was fantastic.

  19. They have vitnessed the fall of Jet airways in India who used to serve lentile and rice on international routes .. .. Thank god.. I had no 2nd thought of booking my Atlanta flight with Delta….. still asian and middle eastern airlines to learn a lot.

  20. I think Bistro by SAUDIA is the best Economy Class meal improvement among the Arabian Gulf carriers !

  21. I also fly extensively with Qatar in both cabins. Their economy food offerings are at best poor and from certain departure points simply inedible. So I see this as great news that’s long overdue.

  22. Qatar Airways is loosing money because of the boycott, then why increase prices like crazy? Don’t they know that by lowering the prices more people would book with them? They are also loosing because most residents of Qatar are using other airlines! Simple as that. How come they can’t understand it?

  23. Abdullah, you are damn right , Bistro by Saudia is an excellent concept, probably the best in the region. However it was only available on selected routes, I dont know if this has changed. Saudia i a great airline and has been in business for quite some time, these people they just dont talk about the great product offering because is a dry airline.

  24. Love that Qatar airways announced their economy class enhancements just a day after Etihad announced their economy class cost cutting initiatives. Surely that’s not coincidental!

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