Starving the Bottom Line

It is hard for me to believe that we as airline customers accept being packed into airplanes like sardines for six hours on a cross-country flight (seven if you are stranded on the tarmac for an hour waiting to take off), only to then also face the choice between starving or being forced to buy a stale ham and cheese (or wrap) or a $3 giant Three Musketeers bar. It’s almost as if the airlines have decided to say “let them eat cake.”

There is a better way…

I have noticed that some restaurants in airports have started to sell chilled ‘To Go’ items. This doesn’t constitute an innovation by any stretch of the imagination, and is even less exciting when you take into account that most airports have dismal airport food choices. The airports need to recognize that the airlines have chosen to put the airports in the food business and rise to the challenge of better vender selection or requirements.

If airlines are going to the operational steps necessary to sell stale sandwiches on board, they could easily allow customers to order a hot meal when they purchase their ticket (or in the days leading up to their flight). The kitchens that make meals on site for first class or for international flights could easily make hot meals for coach passengers. Alternatively, the space that used to be used to prepare coach meals, could be leased to a vendor like Wolfgang Puck. Any hot meals for coach could then be delivered to the plane along with the current first class meals and beverages for all classes of service.

Or, the airlines could partner with airport restaurants to take advance orders for hot meals that could be prepared and ready for pickup from a delivery cart at the gate 30min before the flight.

Even rental car and airport limousine (aka car services) companies could get into the act and have meals ready for customers when they check their car back in, or when they pick their customers up. Airport limousine companies could execute such a strategy by partnering with area restaurants convenient to their location.

As you can see there can and should be numerous food options for travellers, but there aren’t. Maybe your airport or airline offers some interesting choices. If so, I’d love to hear about the offerings you’ve encountered.
What have you seen?
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Braden Kelley

Braden Kelley is a Design Thinking, Innovation and Transformation Consultant, a popular innovation speaker and workshop leader, and helps companies use Human-Centered Change™ to beat the 70% change failure rate. He is the author of Charting Change from Palgrave Macmillan and Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire from John Wiley & Sons. Braden has been advising companies since 1996, while living and working in England, Germany, and the United States. Braden earned his MBA from top-rated London Business School. Follow him on Twitter and Linkedin.




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