As part of a digital initiative, Singapore Airlines will be ceasing the production of printed menus previously distributed on its flights, in favour of an online and in-flight entertainment based solution, in an effort to improve convenience and reduce waste.
Currently the airline is not providing printed menus on board in line with the precautions being taken due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Indeed the removal of menu cards and suspension of hot towel service took place a few weeks before the more comprehensive measures outlined in early June were adopted.
“This digital initiative is part of the airline’s drive to enable a safer and more seamless travel experience for passengers by reducing the need for its crew to distribute paper menu cards during the flight.”Singapore Airlines
The airline confirmed to Mainly Miles that the digital menu is for all cabin classes across the network, including those flying in Suites, First Class and Business Class.
New ‘Digital Menu’
Singapore Airlines has now launched a new Digital Menu System to take the place of paper menus, allowing passengers to view the selection of meals, beverages and amenities available on their forthcoming flight around eight days before departure, either using their laptop or mobile device with an internet connection.
“Passengers booking an upcoming flight will receive a link to the digital menu during the booking phase, as well as via an email just before the flight. The digital menu will be available for viewing up to eight days before the flight departure date.”Singapore Airlines
We tried out the system by searching a Singapore – London flight departing in a few days’ time.
As you can see it’s easy to check the menu on offer, with further details including the beverage options and inflight amenities also available. On some flights, you can also view ‘Inflight Snacks’ and ‘Inflight Delectables’, where they are offered.
Interestingly, while the menu does not list the full wine selection it does include the Champagne offered in Business Class (First Class is currently suspended).
From a brief look at flights departing over the next few days, it does appear that the Charles Heidsieck stocks may now have run dry, with Laurent-Perrier now the exclusive Champagne in Business Class.
It also appears that Champagne in Premium Economy Class is currently suspended, even on the longest routes.
We noticed that on some shorter routes, like Singapore – Jakarta, menus are not loaded into the system. This may be a short-term issue, since until recently those flights did not have any in-flight service.
Last month, Singapore Airlines reinstated ‘simplified’ meal service on its regional and mainland China services, which previously received ‘snack bags’ on boarding to minimise crew-passenger interaction.
“With this new digital service, information on the dining and amenities available on board will just be a simple click away, providing greater convenience to passengers as they no longer have to wait for physical cards to be handed out or to seek assistance from the crew.”Singapore Airlines
Menus via inflight entertainment
Singapore Airlines has said that it will be possible to access the menu for your flight via KrisWorld, the inflight entertainment system.
It’s not clear at this stage whether that will display the actual menu itself or rather a ‘QR code’ allowing you to view it on your mobile device.
“More information on how to access the digital menu onboard can be found via KrisWorld, SIA’s inflight entertainment system that’s available via the monitor in front of the seat.”Singapore Airlines
In COVID-19 times we are all much more used to accessing restaurant menus in Singapore via QR code, so this will not be an issue for the vast majority of travellers. Presumably some alternative means of communicating the menu items to those without a compatible device or those with special needs will be offered by the crew.
It’s good for the planet, and the bottom line
Not unexpectedly, Singapore Airlines is lauding the environmental impact of this policy shift as a key driver in its decision.
“The digital menu will also reduce on board waste, which will help to reduce the airline’s carbon footprint as paper menu cards are discarded after every flight.”Singapore Airlines
As we all know, cost is king in the current climate and this elimination of printed menus on board will have a significant impact on outgoings too, with over 60,000 passengers travelling on over 250 Singapore Airlines flights each day in normal times.
Printed menus for the airline were big business all round, with SIA even contracting professional agencies to conceptualise them and keep us all interested with new cover designs each year, not to mention for seasonal or anniversary periods.
Menus in Business Class on regional flights had already been scaled back to single card presentation, with the exception of dinner services, around three years ago, no doubt realising a significant cost saving for the airline.
In the current climate where the airline will have to turn around from record losses back to its more usual impressive earnings, decisions like this one are likely to be an obvious way to build solid savings into future operating costs.
Now you’ve probably ‘digested’ the news, don’t forget to bookmark SIA’s Digital Menu page, whether to find out what’s being served on your upcoming Singapore Airlines flight (up to eight days from now), or just out of curiosity about what’s on board for others to enjoy.
Having a printed menu presented by the cabin crew on boarding a Singapore Airlines flight, whatever cabin class you were flying in, was certainly a nice touch that many will no doubt miss.
However, in modern times the environmental impact needs to be more closely considered, and as travellers are increasingly comfortable and familiar with using their personal technology when reading restaurant menus, providing it through these means seems like a logical solution.
It’s now possible to access the menu for your flight online through your laptop or mobile device up to eight days in advance of travel, with the possible exception of the full wine selection in premium cabins, which you’ll learn details of once on board.
This shift to digital technology will also realise significant cost savings for the airline, crucial to improving its recovery from the current COVID-19 pandemic in the months and years ahead.
(Cover Photo: Darren Kurnia / Shutterstock)