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Women and inflight catering FOCUS ON


What women want


Women’s needs are not always the same as men’s – take inflight meals for instance, with their bread rolls, cheese and crackers and carbohydrate-centric main dishes. Are these aimed more at a male market, asks Laura Gelder?


T


wo companies have teamed up to investigate the relationship between women and onboard meals: maiden- voyage.com, the business travel network for professional women and inflightfeed.com, a website dedicated to highlighting pre-order and buy-on-board airline meals. They surveyed over 100 women who travel regularly for business or pleasure about their inflight eating habits. Often airline meals are carb-heavy, high in fat and come with the addition of sugary or salty snacks on the side – hardly a modern woman’s ideal. It seems onboard meals are still largely ignoring the health conscious, and in particular women. Popular restaurant chains are now offering light choice menus with smaller portions of popular dishes, or main course salad options – so why not onboard? Of the women surveyed 76% stated that meals were either too heavy in carbohydrates or suited more to male consumers. And of those women who travelled on LCCs, which do not offer complimentary meals, only 20% said that they purchase something on board. Over 40% said they pre-plan their flight meals; a huge opportunity for airlines to improve BoB. A savvy 56% of female travellers surveyed pre- ordered a special meal in the hope of receiving something more palatable and note that those ordering a special meal are served first. Carolyn Pearson, ceo of maiden-voyage. com commented: “Our research tells us that women want healthier options and less carbs. Personally, I get really cold on long flights so


Maiden Voyage


Maiden Voyage is a social networking site for business women, set up by Carolyn Pearson, after she experienced a lonely business trip to LA. The free site lets women connect with other like-minded women anywhere in the world, contact international ambassadors who give advice on their home cities, access hotel reviews and a range of discounts. www.maiden-voyage.com


it’s not necessarily a salad I want, mabye a nice vegetable tagine with butternut squash and wholewheat couscous, and herbal teas . Female business travellers are typically more diet conscious than ever. They are more likely to buy a healthy snack before boarding as they cannot


“We are keen to influence the industry and help them better cater for female business travellers.”


be sure what will be on offer onboard. “ Maiden-voyage.com has over 2,000 members worldwide but it’s clear that it’s not just women who are diet conscious in the 21st century – particularly when travelling for business rather than pleasure, when people tend to pay less attention to calorie intake.


“We do a lot of research into trends around female business travellers,” says Carolyn. “We are keen to influence the industry and help them better cater for female business travellers.” As for Carolyn’s personal experience – we asked what was her worst inflight meal: “I stayed


awake for both meals between Antigua and Manchester with British Airways and regretted it – although in general I enjoy BA’s catering. And her best experience? “Business with KLM to Delhi. My colleague, husband and I had the whole upper deck to ourselves. I had a cold and the crew kindly made hot toddies for me.” One airline which popped up in the survey was Kullaflyg, a Swedish-based carrier which offers organic inflight meals, locally sourced. Breakfast options consist of sandwiches made from local freshly-baked bread, Greek yoghurt with homemade muesli, or organic egg options served with caviar cream; luxurious, sustainable and health conscious in one fell swoop. Here are some more survey results:


• 20% of respondents found Virgin Atlantic airline food suitable to their needs while 14% stated BA as their favourite


• Malaysia Airlines, Singapore Airlines and Korean Air all had good feedback


• The survey recognised easyJet as the leader in buy-on-board snacks


• 10% of respondents had paid to upgrade their meal, with 41% stating that they would pay an extra $10 to upgrade.


www.onboardhospitality.com 85


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