While I’ve amply written about airlines taking away a bit of your food from the tray, such as Jet Airways’ Olive theory, there is always something new to learn in today’s world. Air India seems to have determined, the best way to cut costs and reduce wastage on their flights is, just serve one kind of meal, a vegetarian meal.
Air India already moved to an all-veg meal model on sub-90 minute flights last year. Apparently they also nicked the tea and coffee from their lunch and dinner menu.
From mid-June, the airline has apparently stopped serving non-vegetarian meals on their flights. As per The Hindu:
“We have decided to serve vegetarian meals in our economy-class seats on domestic flights,” Air India Chairman and Managing Director Ashwani Lohani told The Hindu. However, non-vegetarian meals would continue to be served in business and executive class on domestic as well as international flights.
The national carrier took the decision to cut wastage and cost, and to avoid mix-up of vegetarian with non-vegetarian meals. “It also eliminates the possibility of mix-up: a non-veg meal getting served to a vegetarian passenger, as it had happened a few times in the past.”
All I have to say to this is L-O-L! I actually sputtered my tea this morning when I first read about this, because in early June 2017 was the last time my family flew Air India and they did not have this feedback. So, this is clearly something coming from after their flight. I have 3 things to say on this:
- This is incompetence: Heck, if your crew mixes up vegetarian meals and non-vegetarian meals, then it is their incompetence. This is not the passengers mistake. So how about not devising a one-size fits all approach to cover your own mistakes.
- Taking away choice is not a Full-Service Carrier notion: Look, I am aware that Air India is trying to sell itself with a full-service carrier tag. But they are already not the best. I’ve noticed broken seats, I’ve noticed a miser frequent flier program. People used to appreciate the food of Air India, and now they are taking away the option there as well. I know it is not a given in the West that economy fliers get a meal (forget a hot-meal), but it is different in the East where a lot of competitors serve up a meal on the plane.
- They already have an image problem: Air India has an image problem. And while I personally don’t try and judge them for every move they make, in today’s world, they are perhaps the favourite whipping boy of everyone. On top of that, any mistakes made by Air India are not just reported to Air India on social media, but to their eventual owner, represented by the Government of India Civil Aviation Minister. Just not fair on them. But they invite trouble with such carte blanche moves like these.
Hey Air India, how about asking people what they need and stocking up accordingly? A suggestion, allow people in Economy to pre-book their non-veg meals (via the web, TA or phone) and only offer the non-veg meals to those passengers who have it on the manifest supplied to you. Or maybe firing the guy who is your catering analyst, and get another guy who can predict the meal uplifts better.
I don’t agree with the one-size-fits-all approach that Air India is trying to work here. This is plain lazy. For a carrier whose market share is shrinking, they are doing such things which are actively going to drive people away form them. I wonder how their other such moves have worked for them, such as women-only seating. And again, this is just one more isolated decision someone with a memo book wrote up without considering the impact on the brand.
What do you think about this move from AI? Is food a part of your decision making on an airline? Does this move affect your decision to fly AI?