SIA adds healthier meal options to its in-flight menus

This dish of watercress salad and smoked trout with shaved fennel, apples and yuzu jelly in a maple vinaigrette is one of the items introduced by SIA as part of its Deliciously Wholesome meal programme.
This dish of watercress salad and smoked trout with shaved fennel, apples and yuzu jelly in a maple vinaigrette is one of the items introduced by SIA as part of its Deliciously Wholesome meal programme.PHOTO: SIA

Singapore Airlines (SIA) has introduced healthier meal options for passengers looking for lighter fare on their flights.

Launched this month, the Deliciously Wholesome meal programme adds more than 35 new dishes to the menu, such as citrus steamed sea bass with lettuce puree and tofu cheesecake.

The new menu items, some of which were created by established chefs, use ingredients such as whole grains, vegetables and lean meats. They will be served on selected flights departing from Singapore to Europe and Australia, and progressively made available on more flights. All fare classes will have healthier options.

Said SIA's vice-president of inflight services Angeline Khoo: "We have been noticing a rising trend among our customers towards healthier meal choices, based on passenger feedback and focus groups with our frequent fliers."

While airplane food has traditionally had a bad reputation, in-flight fare has become a selling point for many airlines, which boast of dishes crafted by celebrity chefs and ingredients that are locally sourced.

Hong Kong carrier Cathay Pacific says on its website that it offers "light and healthy" dining options, in addition to 21 special meal types that can be requested, including low salt and calorie options.

Dr Guan Chong, head of marketing at SIM University, said while factors such as on-time performance and seat comfort are primary concerns when choosing an airline, "in-flight meals are a highly significant post-purchase factor, and can be the most remembered aspect of a consumer's flight experience".

"Thus, in-flight meals can be an important element to the overall experience and satisfaction. As consumers are becoming more health conscious, offering healthier options can be a competitive advantage, though limited in impact," she said.

Frequent flier Amy Lee welcomed the healthier menu options.

Said the 29-year-old sales director: "Sometimes the timings for the flights are a bit weird, and having a heavy meal can make you feel bloated while having to sit for long periods of time. I think food on airlines is getting better in general."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 08, 2016, with the headline 'SIA adds healthier meal options to its in-flight menus'. Print Edition | Subscribe