AF’s new “meal boxes” on “short haul” flights in C/J – is this for real?

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  • sparkyflier

    The other day in the news section of this fine website there was a piece on the new “meal boxes” which are being given to Business Class passengers on Air France “short haul” flights.

    Air France launches new meal boxes for short-haul business class customers

    I suspect the news was released when most customers were weekend-focused rather than what food they would get on an upcoming short haul flight.

    The article did not say what AF thinks is the duration for a “short haul” flight, but for any flight over 1 hour I would be bewildered that they think such an offering is acceptable.

    But I would welcome the thoughts of travellers on this Forum – would you be happy with this?

    Frankly this seems to me to be beyond stingy and indeed I almost thought it was April 1st…(!).

    This is less than BA were giving during the Covid restrictions period on flights in Club Europe from 2-3 hours and maybe longer.

    And in the last months have been on flights with BA, IB, AY and MH and each offered almost a feast compared to this.

    Comments by myself and other users at the bottom of the news piece used words such as “pathetic” and “insulting”.

    However maybe this is just for very short haul hops – like BRU/AMS/LUX/LHR/Lyon for example – perhaps BT editorial can reach out to AF for clarification on what flights these boxes will be provided on. Perhaps I am being a bit harsh if it is just those very short flights.

    Also re sustainability – I am not a fan of single use plastic but I am also not a fan of wooden cutlery which some airlines provide – that is still trees being chopped down which do not need to be. After all cutlery made of metal can be “recycled” many thousands of times…its called washing them and using them again.

    I look forward to your thoughts on this “service enhancement”..


    **Apologies if a similar post from me appears twice, I just posted but it then disappeared. So, will try again!**

    Hey Sparkflyer,

    Agree, in terms of a premium proposition the boxes aren’t great. Air France isn’t exactly being candid at spelling out what a ‘short’ flight is so will be interesting to see where these appear.

    OneMileAtATime is reporting that the boxed meals will only appear on domestic AF flights. PaddleYourOwnKanoo is stating ‘very’ short flights.

    To be honest I am surprised this hasn’t happened sooner as AF’s sister airline KLM have been dishing these out in euro business for years now. Admittedly my sample size was only one sector but I found the offering EXTREMELY poor. I was on a mid morning flight from Madrid to Amsterdam (so around 2hr flight time) and the box was just full of unhealthy carb heavy items. It contained: Cold pancakes with chocolate sauce (yes, deliberately chilled pancakes), plain yoghurt, a sugary muffin and some sliced apples. As this sector was deemed a ‘longer’ short haul sector an additional item was served in a paper bag. It was some warmed up savoury pastry, again greasy and unhealthy.

    I am not against the boxed concept per se. If airlines used the savings from caterers making up trays to improve the actual items put inside the box, I would be happier to receive a box with some fresh delicious food than a tray with some stale or greasy slop. But KLM just seemed to take the savings and run.

    And I guess a big factor is that there is very limited demand for those that seek out short haul point to point business class these days on the likes of AF/KL/BA/LH etc especially on the very short flights with the J cabin mainly there to offer a A to B via C service to intercontinental business class passengers. In fact, my KLM had a significant delay so the (incredible) Purser went to speak individually to each biz customer with a connection in AMS – which was literally every single one of us.


    Given the fact in Europe business class seats are just the same than in eco (admittedly with the middle seat left empty), if the service is about getting a box, what is left of a so called premium service? This is particularly true for frequent flyers who anyway can access the lounge and board first.


    Some of you may remember my report in 2023 where SIA was trialling cardboard box catering on long-haul routes.

    This was offered to both economy and premium economy passengers on routes ex-Singapore to Mumbai, Sydney, London and San Francisco.

    But at the time of writing the fares over these routes were extremely expensive.

    I gave the example of SIN-LHR where the return fare ranged between £2,200 and £6,700.

    There were many passenger complaints to SIA.

    SIA therefore decided not to adopt cardboard box catering on long-haul routes.

    Singapore Airlines criticised over use of paper catering serviceware


    SAS offered a “box” in C some 15 years or so ago. I can’t remember precisely what they contained, but it was pretty decent and didn’t feel penny pinching.

    Mark Caswell

    Hi – we’ll reach out to Air France and let you know how the airline responds. The press release says simply that the boxes will be offered to “customers travelling on its short-haul network”.

    Mark Caswell

    Esselle – SAS also offered a meal box as recently as 2019, although I think it was a paid-for offering for economy rather than a business class dining service.

    SAS revamps cube dining boxes with sustainable emphasis

    1 user thanked author for this post.


    I think the AF press release was abit confusing.

    I have friends who last week flew AF in C from Germany to CDG and onward and they were served the usual meal on a plate. So it does seem that this is indeed only for domestic flights within France. Crisis averted.


    I believe in the long term, serving food in box is okay for short haul flight (say up to 3-4 hours) for environmentally sustainable reasons.
    It is not the box, but what is inside it matters. Good and healthy food can be served in a box.

    I have seen in India and China, reasonably good food are given to economy class in domestic flights; and these are perfectly acceptable to me.

    IMO, the passenger complaint for SQ box food was not due to the box, but the food itself. The food was mostly one variety and regular passengers might not like it. Plus expectations from SQ is always higher, it being a premium airline. Hence they quickly changed back to original.

    Airlines need to be innovative in designing food in box. European airlines can learn from Indian and Chinese domestic flights, even the dry snack box one can purchase in United and others US domestic flights are quite good and environmentally friendly.

    1 user thanked author for this post.


    Well the pressure for cost savings intensifies.

    Cabins densified as far as possible – check.

    Minimum staff on planes – check.

    Self check in at machines wherever possible – check.

    Get as much baggage self carried on board to avoid handling fees – check.

    Remove all experienced customer service staff and replace with cheaper – check.

    Close/outsource lounges wherever possible, removing premium food/drink and replace with slop – check.

    Just need to get in flight catering down to the basics now. I can hear the BAspeak already – “feedback from customers tells us how much they enjoy bringing a packed lunch and cracking open the duty free in flight”.

    6 users thanked author for this post.

    Mark Caswell

    Air France has now confirmed that the new meal boxes are for domestic flights within France only. Apologies for the confusion here – it’s definitely not what was stated on the original press release. I will update the news piece but wanted to update here as well.

    4 users thanked author for this post.


    Inquisitve – Re SIA and its short-haul catering.

    Family member recently flew SIA from S’pore to Penang. Onboard catering consisted of a pizza slice inside a small cardboard box.

    1 user thanked author for this post.


    AMcWhirter – I hope that the pizza slice was good, did not realise that SQ is still using cardboard box, I got those in Singapore-Bangkok flights post Covid, that are now changed to normal plated food.

    Now I travel flights with 3-4 hours duration in SQ to various destinations, and food is like original economy class crockeries and cutleries.

    As I posted earlier, airlines should find ways to serve good food in paper box for flights up to 4 hours to be more environmentally friendly.

    IMO for flights less than 2 hours, standard food service can be avoided and instead dry foods like energy bar, chocolates, ice cream or fruits can be served in paper bag. I think if that can control the price, economy passengers will be happy. And business class passengers normally eat in the lounge anyway.


    I often fly short haul in Asia (under 3 hours in economy) and even on the normally 1h 40/50 minute to Manila a hot main and a snack is served by most (as it is to other close destinations ex HKG).

    I read that SIA installed a new management team a year or so back who have taken over from the team that built this excellent carrier to to what it is (was) over the past 15 years. The SIA reputation was built around quality service and decent catering and this reputation can be so easily and quickly be destroyed by cold pizza in a box.

    Personally I don’t like the ethos of the airline or the cabin crews ‘nanny state attitudes (or Singapore for the same reason) much preferring Hong Kong’s more laissez faire ways but there is no doubt that SIA is an excellent airline that is loved by many
    The new team is doing the airline no favours in downgrading the expected meal service and I hope that others don’t follow.

    I wonder if the Singapore government who own the airline are happy to see this retrograde step ? Are economy seats in Business class perhaps the next move for SIA ?


    The CX offering in short-haul economy is not great cwoodward, it’s hot yes, but it’s very basic, usually white rice and chicken with a small bottle of water. I find myself preferring airlines where you can buy on board in Y, on occasion I have flown Scoot and Air Asia, and the food offering is far better than the Y food on CX.

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