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Flights of fancy

Manisha Pande  |  New Delhi 

Rosenthal crockery

introduces a gourmet menu and Rosenthal crockery for business class on its Mumbai-Delhi run.

Would you care for on fettuccine with mushroom cheese sauce served on custom-designed Rosenthal? That’s available roughly 30,000 feet above sea level and if you’re travelling business class on Jet Airways’ Mumbai-Delhi run.

Introduced on December 21, this uber-luxury culinary makeover that cost “crores of rupees” according to the airlines General Manager, inflight services (operations) Vimal Rai, is aimed at influential businessmen, politicians and, well, just rich people who fly this popular route.

With business class on this route alone yielding an enviable 80 per cent passenger load factor the airline has spotted a premium brand-building opportunity. “It’s our prime route in a way and we are giving it the attention it deserves. The crème de la crème travels on these flights so we can gain maximum visibility and have a major impact by targeting them,” Rai explains.

In the interests of making “flying domestic seem like flying international”, the new gourmet menu has been designed and prepared by masterchefs at Oberoi Flight Kitchens and includes such haute cuisine as Mediterranean roasted vegetable salad with pesto, pan-fried Bekti, mozzarella and tomato-stuffed chicken and berry and caramel soufflé for dessert, among other things.

Though a menu change can have an instant connect with passengers, the airline’s management reckoned that there was no point in changing the food without changing the way it is presented. So, German luxury crockery maker Rosenthal designed its porcelain crockery in a delicately worked gold-bordered pattern exclusively for the airline. “Rosenthal crockery is iconic and we have brought unmatched elegance on board by introducing it,” says Rai. Progressively, plans to roll out the range of crockery for flights on other prime routes as well.

Rai believes the is going through a new phase of growth – the number of passengers grew by over 20 per cent this year – and this is the best time to capitalise on improving passenger services. “We have been working for over 18 months towards changing the flying experience for passengers,” he says.

The airline has also re-designed its menus for all its domestic and international flights to make them more engaging. The menus showcase a particular theme elaborating the art and culture present in the country. For example, the lunch and dinner menu has texts on such art forms as Madhubani paintings from Bihar, patch work and Moghul art from Rajasthan, and Bidri ware from Karnataka, with pictures illustrating the write up.

Outside of Premiere – as it calls its business class – has jettisoned its trademark blue and white theme, for Dutch tableware called The Landscape for economy passengers on all its domestic flights. “The trays on which the food is served for our economy guests now come in a more earthy orange tone. This colour is considered more ‘appetising’ compared to the previous blue,” says Rai.

If the idea was to gain traction and attract more travellers then seemed to have succeeded. Abimanyu Rana, a 29-year-old hotelier who runs a chain of restaurants in south Delhi and often travels by Premiere class, says the change in the crockery is welcome. “How you present the food is important and goes a long way in adding to the whole fine-dining experience. I can’t wait to take the next ‘DEL-BOM’ flight,” he says.

Going ahead plans to tie up with celebrity chefs and introduce more innovations on the services side in the coming months for all its passengers taking domestic as well as international flights. Rai says travellers taking the flight between Mumbai and New Delhi will not be charged extra for the new service, the airline’s aim is to provide a standard of service for which passengers don’t mind paying a premium eventually.

First Published: Wed, December 29 2010. 00:59 IST