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SAS new dining concept – fresh, seasonal, sustainable

A project two years in the making, SAS’ new dining concept, New Nordic by SAS, is poised to change the experience of onboard meals.

As ambassadors for the Nordic countries, SAS realized that des­pite big leaps forward in dining and healthy eating on the ground, not least the emergence of new Nordic cuisine, both the food and onboard dining experience had become lackluster. 

When SAS began working on its new food and drink concept, it looked closely at onboard circumstances – small spaces and close neighbors – and decided it was time to embrace the unique onboard envir­onment, rather than fight against it. The question was how to do it? The answer came in the shape of a cube. 

“We are travelers and we’re on the go,” says Stephanie Smitt Lindberg, VP Customer Journey & Loyalty SAS. “With the Cube, we’ve created a functional yet premium dining experience that supports customers’ wishes to both eat and work at the same time, as well as supporting their healthy lifestyles.”

Inspiration for the Cube came from a number of areas including takeout food, which offers a great meal consumed in an easy one-hand experience. The concept also embraces consumers’ wish to personalize food with various condiments and sides that are offered separately. Another inspiration was the New Nordic Food Mani­festo (see interview with Claus Meyer).

“Customers told us they want fresh, seasonal food – and we’ve delivered,” says Smitt Lindberg. “Using quality local producers illustrates our brand and heritage, and the new food and drink concept is perfectly in line with the SAS brand and SAS New Experience.”

Most of all, the Cube is about relevance and serving food in the context of flying. 

“We’ve focused on quality and origin, but also functionality,” says Gustaf Öholm, Head of Onboard Products & Services. “It’s a high-quality product presented and served in a way that utilizes the work space while giving passengers more control.

 “Travelers want a Nordic experience rather than a generic one.” He and his team quickly realized that many frequent flyers saw their onboard meal as one of the drawbacks of travel rather than a highlight.

Another complaint was that once a meal was served, travelers were trapped behind tray tables until cabin staff cleared them.

“The world has changed, but onboard dining had stayed the same,” says Linnea Malmberg, the onboard manager who co-traveled with regular passengers to ­understand how travel fitted into their lifestyle. “This was an opportunity to upgrade the experience while doing something innovative.”

Enter the Cube, which combines elegant, minimal design with locally-­­sourced, seasonal and sustainable food that adheres to the values of the New Nordic Food Manifesto. 

Each Cube contains the main meal, condiments and utensils. Additional warm side dishes and dessert are offered, but not automatically included, so there’s less waste. 

The Cube can be held in the hand like a takeout container, leaving the tray free. Inside, travelers will find free-range chicken from Sweden, salmon from Norway and organic yogurt from Denmark, for ­example. 

“As far as possible, we use Scandinavian suppliers but even when we source food from other countries such as Greece, it’s local, because we fly there,” says Öholm. 

When the meal is finished, the Cube can be reassembled so it takes up minimal space and travelers are free to use their tables. “Basically, it puts choice back into the traveler’s hands,” adds Malmberg.  


Text: Sam Eichblatt 

Last edited: September 4, 2018

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