United Airlines says these kiosks will include “limited water and snacks available during complimentary service,” including items such as That’s It fruit bars, Undercover chocolate quinoa crisps and savory snack mixes. . United Airlines says these items will only be available after flight attendants complete the initial check-in process.
These self-service stations are the latest introduction by major U.S. airlines on long-haul and medium-haul domestic flights. JetBlue Pantry has been available since 2014, when it was called “Marketplace.” The brand name changed in 2019 when JetBlue introduced the Airbus A321neo. Self-service refreshments are now available on some of “JetBlue’s longest-route aircraft,” including the A321ceo, an airline representative said.
“Passengers love this. And when the passengers are happy, the crew members are happy, and when the crew members are happy, the passengers are happier,” says the travel industry analyst and researcher.・Harry Harteveldt, president of advisory firm Atmosphere Research Group, said: DIY snack stations “make it easier for passengers to have a more enjoyable flight and reduce the burden on flight attendants who have to run back and forth to serve individual passengers,” he said. added.
not all experts However, I agree that self-service snacks have the customer’s best interests at heart.
Robert W. Mann, an airline industry analyst and consultant, called the new feature just the “latest airline manifestation” of self-service options.
Mann cited the example of Delta Air Lines and American Airlines, which in the late ’90s and early 2000s offered to-go meal bags at the gate before boarding. “These amenities seem generous these days, but back then they were in place of the hot entrees served on board,” Mann said. He added that American Airlines’ “Bistro Bag” and Delta Air Lines’ “Sky Deli” options were both “pretty damned, if not criticized by passengers.”
United Airlines and JetBlue Airways’ fleet snack stations can be seen as part of a long-term trend toward airline optimization (and resulting cost savings). “Self-service is part of a broader trend across customer service, and we see it in other parts of the airline as well,” said Clark, aviation expert and consultant at Alton Aviation Consultancy.・Mr. Johns said. This is evidenced by airlines’ investment in self-service mobile apps for check-in and flight management, as well as the widespread use of self-baggage screening machines, he said.
“Giving customers more touchpoints and time when they need it also means making better use of flight attendants’ time,” Johns added.
Hartebert agreed. “What these self-service pantries are doing is helping airlines do a better job of satisfying their customers,” he said, calling this “passenger empowerment.” .
Experts agree that traditional snack service is unlikely to change in the near future. After all, flight attendants are still required to serve alcohol and hot meals. However, if snack bars become more popular, they could ease the burden on flight crews in the long run.
“It will likely depend on cost, customer acceptance, comments and flight attendant post-flight reviews,” Mann said. But he warned that such changes “could be inconvenient.” [or] This would cause inconvenience to customers sitting near the galley, especially those in aisle seats, where other passengers lined up in the aisle to “grab back” to their seats. ”
Harteveldt said U.S. airlines generally already have a minimum number of flight attendants per trip. For safety reasons, the Federal Aviation Administration requires one flight attendant for every 50 passengers. This means there is not as much room to reduce headcount as there would be to install self-service check-in or baggage tagging machines at airports, for example.
It remains to be seen whether more airlines will add self-service snack bars to domestic flights. These services require valuable space on the plane. For example, some of American Airlines’ A321neos use the empty space in the middle of the cabin as an additional bathroom instead.
A trend toward more flexible configurations allows this type of self-service on newer aircraft like the A321neo and Bombardier CRJ-550 (a 50-seater plane that United Airlines uses for its most premium routes). , more airlines may be able to offer self-service. As new planes are added, they join this trend.
In the meantime, by installing these self-service stations on some airlines; It helps you differentiate yourself from your competitors. According to Harteveldt, this is “a small but meaningful point of differentiation in an industry that long ago became a homogeneous mass of sameness.”
Research shows that even the most loyal travelers often choose the airline they fly on “trip by trip,” Harteveldt said. Features like free Wi-Fi, extensive in-flight entertainment, and on-demand snack options may seem small, but they can add up from a customer’s perspective.
“While 80 to 90 percent of airline operations are the same between airlines, especially between airlines like JetBlue and United Airlines, the remaining “We place great importance on 10 to 20 percent.” “If part of that differentiation is a self-service pantry, so be it.”