Air New Zealand is getting ready to test social enterprise Eat My Lunch’s snacks on domestic flights – and we might see Whittaker’s chocolates on board one day, too.
After years of offering only cookies and corn chips on board, the airline has tested a range of new snacks as part of a larger overhaul of its catering service.
So far, passengers have been offered apple crumble ice cream, paprika chips, popcorn, and tangerines in addition to the standard Cookie Time and corn chips.
Air New Zealand chief executive Leeanne Langridge’s client said the airline had approached Eat My Lunch founder Lisa King to test “more complex offerings” on board. In airline parlance, complex snacks are those that require heating or refrigeration, while simple snacks are ready to eat as is.
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“It won’t be a full lunch, but it could be a little wrap or a little croissant, or something else that Eat My Lunch cooks for us,” Langridge said. “And then for every snack we give on board, one will go and feed a child who might not be able to have lunch or a snack during the (school) day.”
The Eat My Lunch trial is scheduled to begin Monday, June 21 and run for three days.
Of the snacks tested so far, Langridge said popcorn has proven particularly popular, followed closely by mandarins and Proper paprika crisps.
Deciding that the flavor of the crisps may be too “distinct” for some, the airline plans to try “old sea salt crisps to see how they behave, too.”
Langridge said she had been encouraged by the constructive comments offered by passengers so far.
“I read about 1000 comments on our Facebook page, and they really are pretty good. Even if they say something negative, they say it in a positive way. I think it only got a little negative in a comment (about us) removing lollipops and giving everyone a raise.
A Facebook post asking people what snacks they would like to see on board has now generated over 1,400 responses. Wine and cheese (currently on offer during Koru Hour) was a popular choice, while many said they would like the airline to take better care of people with food allergies and intolerances. Others had quite specific requests.
“Kumara wedges with sour cream drizzled with sweet chili sauce, and don’t forget the melted cheese,” one person said.
“Mini cheese board with nuts, crackers and maybe some dried fruit and grapes,” wrote another.
“A hot scone with butter to accompany the cup of tea. Or something like a hot salty mini pie or a mini sausage roll, ”suggested a third.
“I would have to buy Bluff oysters and caviar with champagne given the monopoly prices of some tariffs,” said another.
Whittaker chocolate, Kāpiti dark chocolate and berry sorbet, gluten free potato chips, kūmara chips, crisps and dips, pineapple chunks, lamingtons, muffins and filled mini sliders local lamb and smoked salmon were among the many other suggestions.
However, some said they did not think at all that snacks should be served on domestic flights, especially when passengers are required to wear face masks.
When asked if many passengers still opt for cookies and corn chips, Langridge replied “no”.
“It’s almost a security blanket. (The passengers) want to know that they’re still there – and they are, if anyone wants them… So we’re not going to take them away and leave people without their cookies or their corn chips, but no, the people were ready for the change. “
As the airline shifts from survival mode to recovery mode, Langridge said it wants to “build back better” using passenger feedback.
“They helped us through this very difficult time. Last year was tough and they stayed with us. And I just love that they want to be part of us reviving. It’s really cool.”
Going forward, Langridge said the airline would like to keep changing their snacks.
“We’re not going to be that giant airline that plans for six months to try new raisins on board. We need to be faster and try different things, and change things a lot faster than we’ve done in the past. “
Whittaker’s chocolate has proven to be popular demand, and Langridge has suggested a partnership with the New Zealand company may be an option.
“There has been a lot of comments on Facebook about Whittaker Chocolates, so I’d really like to know if it’s really something customers want too,” she said. “We could make Air New Zealand chocolates – that would be pretty fun…
“For us, it’s about supporting as many New Zealand brands as possible, and so with Whittaker being a famous New Zealand brand, we would like to partner with companies and organizations that benefit from being a product on board for us and we’re able to support. It’s really about New Zealand Inc right now and anything we can do to support it.