Pre-ordering with Alaska
LAUNCH DATE: The initial concept was devised in October 2017; with the roll out complete by January 2020
Alaska Airlines has rolled out an innovative Menu Pre-order concept which directly impacts the guests’ onboard experience in a positive way. The airline is the first carrier to implement this pre-order food function across all food-serving cabins and aircraft types, and is setting a new standard for the industry.
The primary goal of the concept is to empower guests to select their first choice for food onboard. This brings a range of benefits onboard the aircraft as well ensuring more efficient packing, as the airline can more accurately provision the food items the passengers will want on any specific flight. This also expedites service as flight attendants don’t have to spend as much time explaining all the food options available on that aircraft.
Peace of mind
Because of the constraints on an aircraft, better understanding the passengers’ desires helps provide them with a better experience. The digital design team was briefed to create new ways to provide the team with a better understanding of the passengers’ desired food options by allowing travellers to see all the options available on their flight, select them and have that selection confirmed back to them – hence giving them the peace of mind that their food choice will be onboard.
The team also wanted to make sure that the pre-order concept was available through multiple channels so passengers could pre-order on the Alaska Airlines app, on the desktop website, or linking from a pre-trip email. Additionally, flight attendants and kitchens needed to be able to see which food items had been selected so all were aligned in providing the best passenger experience and correct food.
The concept recognises that travelling is stressful for many people and aims to remove some of that stress by ensuring passengers know exactly what they will have to eat onboard. This particularly supports passengers with dietary restrictions allowing them to chose an item that works best for them, or passengers travelling with children who want to be sure suitable food will be available for their family. Research from focus groups showed there was a strong desire among passengers to know the food options in advance for a variety of reasons so the pre-ordering concept not only provides that information but also allows passengers to make their choices easily.
This pre-ordering food concept inherently touches many different elements onboard the aircraft. It has allowed Alaska Airlines to connect food, technology, and service. The team is able to use technology as a way of enhancing a passenger’s food experience, giving them choice and enabling them to select their inflight meal with some certainty. This also enhances onboard service by reducing the amount of time flight attendant’s take to explain and deliver the food and beverage.
The pre-order concept has been implemented at scale across all cabins and all aircraft where food is available, and showcases innovation by leveraging multiple teams to bring a superior onboard experience to the passengers. It works across the multiple functions of technology, food and beverage, and onboard service to enhance the guests’ travel experience.
Ending food frustrations
On fights where fresh meals are served, passengers can now pre-order their desired meal for their flight regardless of what route or what aircraft they’re flying on. While this functionality already exists in limited areas, this is the first-time any carrier has offered pre-ordering across all their cabins (First Class, Premium Class, Main Cabin) and all their aircraft types. Running out of a passenger’s desired option, provisioning too much food, or provisioning too little are common occurrences in the airline catering industry that frustrate passengers as well as employees. Making this innovation widely available helps address these challenges and allows guests to always have their first choice of food onboard.
Finding tech solutions
Airline catering is an inherently complicated process. Technology is essential in the pre-order programme and was used in ways that have not been done before, across an entire operation. Alaska Airlines leveraged technology across all devises to ensure the food options could be easily present to all passengers for selection. The technology also enables the carrier to communicate meals chosen to the catering kitchens for on time preparation for the right flights. This information is also loaded onto the flight attendants’ devices so they know exactly which passenger has ordered what, and can then deliver it directly to them.
Through this pre-ordering technology, Alaska Airlines has put its passengers in control of their eating decisions and now loads the correct meals, on the correct flight. It ultimately offers a much enhanced travel experience.