Airline: Qatar Airways
Launched: September 2022
Elements: Catering • Technology • Comfort
Qatar Airways has claimed a world first by fully integrating the 2022 FIFA World Cup into its inflight journey as it supported the build up and delivery of the Qatar-hosted tournament.
The airline was extremely proud when its home nation was chosen as the first Arab country to host the acclaimed FIFA World Cup in 2022 and as the official airline to the tournament, it wanted to integrate that pride into the inflight customer experience as momentum built around the event worldwide.
This was the first and biggest world event taking place after the COVID-19 pandemic, and the airline also wanted to ensure that the travel experience was truly special for those leaving their homes, travelling cross-continent on their first international travel in a long time.
The inflight teams were briefed to create a football fan experience, drawing inspiration from the FIFA brand assets as well as introducing the world to Qatari culture, the city of Doha and its art, heritage and hospitality.
The goal was to build an experience that would be remembered by all through the rebranding of products, incorporating stadium experiences into new dining concepts, redefining technology onboard and delivering new levels of service.
As the world emerged from the pandemic people were ready for some joy and as the tournament approached every Qatar Airways flight became a celebration – customers danced and chanted as they entered to the FIFA themed boarding music. The cabin dressing was FIFA themed, and celebratory. Even the food and service complemented the FIFA theme and the inflight entertainment was expanded to include much new football related content. Crew went through specially-curated FIFA training so they knew all about the tournament and could help with passenger queries. To capture a once-in-a-lifetime moment, fans were provided with unique opportunities to live the FIFA experience throughout their journey, regardless of which cabin they flew.
In creating a fully immersive and integrated experience, all offerings – from the onboard cuisine that included match-time favourites, to the FIFA branded limited edition amenity kits, loungewear, menu designs, special football-related content and live streaming of World Cup matches at 40,000 feet – came together to bring the passion of the field to the air.
Kicking off in early September 2022, specially-curated dining concepts brought the vibes of the stadiums to the aircraft cabins. All the catering innovations were featured on a FIFA World Cup-themed menu card.
In First and Business Class, a range of FIFA World Cup-inspired match-time favourites complemented the customary fine dining experience. Dishes included burgers and half-time platters inspired by ingredients native to the participating countries such as American Cheeseburgers, Brazilian Burgers and Canadian Burgers, while the dessert selection of Golden Chocolate
There were stadium snacks and coasters and cocktail napkins had FIFA World Cup co-branding to reinforce the celebrations.
In Economy match-time snacks included pizzas and sausage rolls presented in colourfully-designed FIFA World Cup-themed artwork packaging. Desserts were garnished with signature chocolate footballs.
On the inflight entertainment system, the airline celebrated the FIFA season with exclusive FIFA content including 189 football-related sports content options, live FIFA games, the FIFA+ channel, football Spotify playlists and Hollywood and Bollywood football content. One of the highlights of the onboard Oryx One inflight FIFA experience was an exclusive interview with FIFA President Gianni Infantino.
Fans were also introduced to the host city through Visit Qatar football videos that highlighted favourite tourist spots in the country, a football video shot at the award-winning Hamad International Airport, and the acclaimed safety video featuring the much-loved FIFA Mascot, La’eeb.
Limited-edition noise cancellation headsets were co-branded with the FIFA logo in premium cabins, whilst Economy passengers received colourful headsets in the FIFA 2022 brand colours.
A Live TV feature onboard enabled customers to connect their personal devices and watch their favourite matches or any other sport via Sports 24 channel.
Passsengers in First and Business Class were seated in cabins adorned with FIFA co-branded antimacassar and message pillows carrying special football-inspired slogans. A bespoke range of amenity kits that doubled up as utility bags for use during the tournament were designed to incorporate key FIFA visual elements. These kits, in luxurious faux leather, were tailored to accommodate match-day essentials in the form of a body bag for men and a cross-body bag for women. In addition to containing the luxurious range of Diptyque products, they became a souvenir keepsake. Guests were also presented with football jersey-inspired FIFA co-branded loungewear with the FIFA lock-up and Qatar Airways in the front and ‘Qatar 22’ printed on the back. The bespoke loungewear came packed in drawstring bags made from RPET material.
Economy Class passengers found pillowcases and headrest covers carried special messages, received vibrant FIFA-branded headphones and amenity kits to add surprise and delight to a their experience.
Children were also given a taste of the tournament through the ORYX Kids Club range of football-themed products to get them interested in the game. Young fans received a football-themed young traveller pack and plush toys to keep them entertained.
Never, in the history of the FIFA World Cup has any airline integrated the tournament so firmly throughout the inflight journey. Passengers didn’t only see the FIFA experience through live match streaming and FIFA artwork, they felt it through the comfort of carefully-curated luxurious FIFA-branded amenity kits and souvenir message pillows; tasted it through the delicious FIFA-inspired culinary experience; and heard it through every stage of their FIFA journey with onboard audio and highly-engaged cabin crew. As a result, customers were enthusiastic for their journey like never before and received a memorable experience that will last a lifetime.
Will Qatar Airways win Cabin Concept of the Year 2023? Join us in Hamburg on June 6 2023 as we unveil winners at the Onboard Hospitality Awards ceremony at the World Travel Catering & Onboard Services Expo (WTCE).