Imagine reclining your chair back for a nap and then being awoken by the words, “Excuse me ma’am, I’m sorry to startle you but your meal is ready.” You sit up and glance at the air stewardess who is standing in the aisle holding a tray with your in-flight meal and smiling. It seems like you have just stirred from an uncomfortable sleep and you’re halfway to your destination, only, the airplane is still firmly on the airport tarmac and you’re not taking off anytime soon, but you are going to consume an airplane meal that you just paid SG$321 for in business class.
Welcome to Singapore Airlines’ pop-up airplane restaurant. With the aviation industry in deep crisis due to the coronavirus pandemic, airlines have turned to alternative ways to raise cash, from offering “flights to nowhere” to tours of aircraft. Singapore’s flag carrier, which has cut thousands of jobs and grounded nearly all its planes this year, offered passengers the chance to dine on board two A380 superjumbos – the world’s biggest passenger jet.
And just over the weekend, over 400 people had lunch and watched films aboard the planes. They checked in at Changi Airport and went through the usual security checks before arriving at the aircraft for lunch.
“The food is pretty amazing, it’s better than the one they serve during the flight,” said Zhou Tai Di, a 17-year-old student in economy class, as he tucked into his soy sauce-glazed chicken with spicy fried eggplant and rice.
Lolita Lee, who works in media, ordered the business class meal and was of the opinion that the food was not what she had expected. “The nasi lemak is paltry with small portions and the rice is not flavourful enough despite it being cooked with coconut milk, the sambal with anchovies is on the sweet side and not spicy, the sambal prawns has no spice kick, and the turmeric fish is too tangy,” she lamented. But she did enjoy the satay which was “meaty and juicy”.
Some customers settled in for a nap while waiting for their meals to be served, while others watched movies on the seat-back entertainment systems. About half the seats were left empty, in keeping with social-distancing guidelines.
Calvin Teo, a 29-year-old civil servant and aviation buff, paid SG$321 (US$236) to be served a six-course meal in business class, saying he missed flying and hoped to recreate the experience. “Of course the feeling of actually flying will be better, because there’s the excitement of going to a new destination, to explore a new destination, and even though we can’t do it now due to COVID, this is a good substitute for now, to recreate the feels of taking a long-haul flight,” he said.
The most expensive option is a SG$642 eight-course meal in a first-class suite, while the cheapest costs SG$53 and consists of a three-course meal in economy class.
A limited number of diners were also able to tour the double-decker aircraft and take selfies with pilots in the cockpit.
The tarmac meals were surprisingly popular – SIA announced six additional sessions after more than 900 lunch tickets sold out within 30 minutes of bookings opening earlier this month. They are also offering home deliveries of plane meals, so if you really miss airplane food, you can always order it to be had at home.
Source: AFP Relax News