If you're the type of person who prefers to sleep, or work, rather than have your flight disturbed by a meal service, a new move by Fiji Airways is aimed at you.
The airline has announced it will begin serving its business class passengers and others with lounge access their meals before they get on the plane.
The meal service, called Dine of the Ground, promises a pre-flight gourmet meal "to maximise rest while travelling".
The airline said the move comes after research found 31 per cent of Australian passengers skipped in-flight meals in favour of getting more sleep. As a result, up to 38 per cent of food on board was being discarded.
Passengers taking morning or evening flights out of Nadi, Fiji will be offered breakfast or dinner, respectively, in the Fiji Airways Premier Lounge shortly before boarding.
"While the inflight experience has improved dramatically over the years across all airlines, the way in which food is served hasn't changed too much," says Fiji Airways' managing director and CEO, Andre Viljoen.
Viljoen says the airline had analysed food consumption and sleep patterns, as well as getting feedback from passengers about the meal service.
By moving the dining experience pre-flight, we're not only able to offer a premium experience but we're also able to reduce food waste, while maintaining our excellent in flight catering," he says.
Onboard meals for business class passengers will be replaced by light options such as fruit bowls, paninis, salads, tapas and soups.
The airline quoted health and wellness expert Mark Bunn on the benefits of eating before the flight and limited on-board dining to light meals.
"Most of us find it hard enough to sleep on flights but eating large meals onboard will only make that worse due to bloating and indigestion," he says.
"The movement and irregular nature of travel makes it much harder to digest food properly. Try to eat a decent meal a good one to two hours before travelling. Once on the flight, eat very lightly. By dining on the ground before take-off, you're giving your body enough time to digest the food – meaning you'll be more comfortable and more likely to sleep.
"For medium-to long haul flights across time-zones, sleeping is the best way to reduce jet-lag. So any initiative that addresses that, is welcomed."
Of course, serving a la carte meals in airline lounges is nothing new – many other airlines already offer full menus for their top-tier passengers, while still offering a full meal service in the sky. Fiji Airways previously offered a buffet for guests in its Nadi lounge. What is new is an airline moving its full meal service from the flight to the ground.
While passengers may indeed prefer to eat their meals before they board, the move won't do any harm to Fiji Airways' bottom line either – particularly given that every gram of additional weight an airline can shave off their flights can result in huge savings on fuel costs over the long term.
The Dine on the Ground service is now available for morning flights from Nadi to Sydney and Brisbane, and evening flights from Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide to Nadi.