Singapore Airlines (SIA) has enlisted the help of some sensitive young taste buds to put potential new children’s inflight menu items to the test.
SIA plans to role out new menus for children by the end of the year, initially on flights leaving Singapore. As part of the development process, the airline held food-tasting parties for more than 100 Singapore-based young frequent fliers today.
Two groups of children aged three to 12 were treated to portions of current and potentially new inflight menu items. Dishes included baby carrots, spaghetti with meatballs, broccoli, fried noodles, chicken nuggets, Jell-O and chocolate brownies. The taste test was followed by entertainment from a clown and balloon artistes.
As each child sampled the portions, SIA attendants asked them to tick or point to happy or sad smiley faces on a specially designed survey form. Attendants also recorded comments and how much of the food was consumed.
The children’s feedback will help SIA’s team of executive sous chefs develop the new menus.
SIA Vice President Inflight Services, Mr Eddie Ong says keeping children happy and well nourished is important for everyone on board.
“Singapore Airlines prides itself on catering to the needs of all its customers.
Today, even the younger travellers are becoming more discerning about the kind of meals they want to be served inflight.
“We want to ensure that all our passengers are enjoying our service from the very moment they start flying with SIA. And of course, we want to encourage them to keep flying with us for the rest of their lives,” Mr Ong said.
SIA Senior Manager Customer Research and Development, Mr Joseph Debacq says it is important that the needs and tastes of SIA’s younger passengers are catered to.
“Children can become bored and restless during flights. Approximately 300,000 of nearly 15 million passengers SIA carries each year are aged 12 or under. With flights getting longer it is more important than ever that children’s inflight meals are something to look forward to and are fun. Our qualitative research will help us identify the dishes that children like to eat, but which also provide a balanced meal,” he said.
The children at the tasting parties were selected from a pool of 850 aged 12 or under with the highest number of Young Explorers Club air miles. The Young Explorers Club is the children’s division of the Krisflyer frequent flyer programme.
SIA also surveys adult passengers on their meal preferences, but uses different methods. The airline carries out web-based surveys, telephone research, holds focus group sessions and issues survey forms inflight and at airports.
In the second quarter of this year SIA surveyed 15,000 adult passengers on inflight breakfast and refreshment preferences. The airline surveyed a further 15,000 last year on other cuisine preferences.