Virgin Atlantic recently spent $168 million on a “transformative” redesign of their meal trays. Virgin Atlantic’s management team hired design firm MAP to recreate the economy meal service experience to “make eating on an airplane a little bit more like eating in a restaurant with multiple courses served in different waves.”
The designers did a complete overhaul, changing the trays themselves, silverware, coffee pots, and more. Thanks to changes in the design of the trays, Virgin Atlantic says they will see a 45 percent reduction in greenhouse gases and related fuel costs which will save the airline millions over the next few years. Wired has the new tray details:
The changes sound simple but add up to each of Virgin’s planes being about 53 pounds lighter than before. The multiple course idea means that the trays can be smaller, small enough to fit four on a single shelf in the industry standard carts versus the three that currently fit. That means each cart can hold 33 percent more food, and fewer carts mean less weight. The trays also come with a spongy plastic coating on top that does away with the need for messy (and bulky) paper liners. The non-slip surface also means that the food doesn’t slide around during takeoff, creating a mess for flight attendants to clean up.
Speaking of flight attendants, the upgrade is also designed to make their jobs easier. For instance, the new trays include a lip so that they can hook together. This means that when the flight attendant pulls one meal out, the next meals slide forward as well, so they can just grab them for the next passenger instead of having to reach into the back of the cart.
Flight attendants will also enjoy a similarly convenient adjustment to the design of the coffee pots. The old pots lacked clear labeling—unless you consider Sharpie scribbles to be clear labeling—and the handles hurt flight attendants wrists over time. So MAP came up with a simple, sleek new design, including a wheel on the top where flight attendants can mark what’s inside. A new ergonomic handle should do away with the wrist injuries.
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