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SIA will not proceed with paper boxes for food on medium- and long-haul flights after trial feedback

Singapore Airlines conducted a trial of new paper serviceware in March 2023 on a small number of medium- and long-haul flights.

Singapore Airlines conducted a trial of new paper serviceware in March 2023 on a small number of medium- and long-haul flights.

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SINGAPORE — Singapore Airlines (SIA) will not proceed with using paper boxes for food on medium- and long-haul flights "for now", in light of the feedback from its trial earlier this year, the airline told CNA on Thursday (May 25). 

When the trial was rolled out in March for economy class meals on a small number of medium- and long-haul flights, the paper boxes sparked criticism about the airline's food standards, including the presentation of meals. Some said the move made SIA appear "cheap" and that it was a cost-cutting measure. 

"Some of (our customers) have shared their feedback regarding the serviceware, as have members of the public. We have taken that on board," a spokesperson for the airline said in response to CNA's queries.

"We have also received the operational feedback on the trial, and noted that we may need to improve the design of the box."

Taking all these into account, the spokesperson said the airline has "decided not to proceed with this new serviceware for now".

SIA uses paper food boxes for economy class meals on short-haul flights under three-and-a-half hours.

The trial in March was part of SIA's efforts to "enhance the in-flight experience on medium- and long-haul flights by offering more main course options" that were frequently asked for, such as gravy-rich dishes like laksa, mee siam, and congee.

"The design of the serviceware is also better at retaining heat and moisture than the casserole dish, helping to enhance the taste and quality of our main courses," the spokesperson said, adding that the majority of customers who tried dishes in the new boxes enjoyed the taste and variety of food.

SIA had previously addressed comments about cost-cutting, stating that the trial food boxes cost more than the disposable plastic casserole dishes that it uses.


Amid heightened complaints, SIA reported a record annual profit of S$2.16 billion earlier this month.

The spokesperson told CNA on Wednesday that the airline has not reduced its budget for in-flight meals. Its current budget is about 20 per cent higher than that for the 2019/2020 financial year, even though the airline expects that its capacity will be lower than that year.

The airline will also bring back appetisers for economy class meals from June 1.  

These will be served with all economy class meals on medium-, long-haul and ultra-long haul trips – essentially any flight that is three-and-a-half hours and above. This is in addition to a bread roll, a main course, cheese and crackers, and a dessert. 

Also from June 1, economy class passengers on short-haul flights of between one-and-a-half hours and three-and-a-half hours will receive bread rolls and butter. These will be served with a main course and a dessert. 

Some other items that were removed from the meal tray during the pandemic for operational and supply chain reasons, as well as to reduce food waste, have also been restored. This includes cheese and crackers, and muffins for continental breakfasts.

"SIA remains committed to constantly innovating with the aim of enhancing the in-flight dining experience, and to meet and exceed the expectations of our customers," the spokesperson said. CNA

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