Struggling airlines make bank with pop-up plane restaurants

As airlines search for novel ways of generating revenue during Covid-19 without leaving the runway, jumbo jet restaurants are proving incredibly popular.

Here I was thinking that airplane food was without doubt the least exciting aspect of flying through a tin can at 36,000 feet, but it would appear the powdered egg and liquid mash offered by economy class isn’t indicative of the overall quality of dining available to flyers.

When it comes to balancing a piping hot meal on a tiny fold out table people can’t get enough. That’s what reports coming out of Singapore Airlines Ltd are suggesting, anyway. The company has been offering restaurant goers the opportunity to dine within the narrow interior of two of its commercial jets, both Airbus SE A380s, at a make-shift pop up restaurant.

The plane is kept stationary on the runway but diners are seated as if they’re about to jet off to on a two-week holiday, making for a wholly unique if bizarre eating experience that’s proved to be wildly popular with customers. Singapore Airlines revealed last Monday that reservations ran out within 30 minutes of opening.

With flights currently grounded across the globe by Covid-19, air travel revenue streams are being decimated and airliners are being forced to come up with novel ways to keep their businesses afloat. Singapore Airlines made a net loss of $827 million in the June quarter and has laid off about 20% of its workforce.

However, its idea of converting two jumbo jets into themed restaurants parked at the Changi Airport has proved something of a masterstroke already. In accordance with social distancing rules, half of the A380’s 471 seats were made available for booking on the opening weekend of October 24th to 25th and reservations for the two planes were quickly filled.

In-fact demand was so high that Singapore Airlines is planning on selling a range of Business Class meals to be delivered to people’s homes, presumably to be eaten in the car as a passable backup.

For those who don’t want to mingle with the little people on their static plane, the rudimentary cabin classes of Suite Service, Business Class, Premium Economy, and Economy still exist, with the quality of grub and price varying with each tier. To enhance the feeling of authenticity, customers can also pay with frequent-flyer miles they’ve saved.

Singapore Airlines had previously toyed with offering ‘scenic flights’ that take off and shortly land in the same airport, so people could enjoy their meal with the rumble of turbulence. They quickly realised that this would be completely tactless task though, as high doses of CO2 would be pumped into the atmosphere for next to no reason.

So, there we have it, Singapore Airlines has created the perfect outing for curious aviophobic foodies… finally! In all seriousness, this could be a great way of keeping the industry afloat as we navigate the economic challenges of 2020.

You can bet this will spark a whole bunch of creative ideas from airliners across the globe too. Stay tuned.

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