Have you ever craved duck egg char kuey teow made by a certain Penang hawker so bad that you wished it could be flown and delivered to your doorstep in Klang Valley?
Launched on August 15, the food delivery arm of the airline will now allow Klang Valley residents to get freshly-made food from selected Penang merchants delivered to them that’s prepared on the very day of delivery.
The catch, though, is that your food can only be delivered on the Wednesday of each week, and with an order cut-off time being before 5PM on Tuesdays.
No, it’s not going to cost you the price of an airplane ticket, as the delivery currently has a starting fee of RM5.99 per order.
Based on recent coverage, it seems like sentiments towards this service are generally optimistic. However, we couldn’t help but feel a tad skeptical.
Interested in finding out how this service will perform for ourselves, we made a bundle order of three duck egg char kuey teow from Tiger Char Koay Teow, Penang.
Our delivery slot is currently scheduled for Wednesday, August 17, between 5 to 5.30PM, and while waiting for it, we thought we’d first expand on our current thoughts about it.
So, here are some questions we have about the service.
1. How fresh can the food remain throughout the delivery duration?
According to airasia’s news release, all meals will be prepared fresh before they’re air-flown to KL.
A regular food delivery service already takes up to an hour from when food is cooked fresh, to when it reaches a customer’s table. Putting it on a flight would require several more hours, and many more steps.
After it’s cooked, it has to be packaged securely enough to withstand turbulence, get sent to the airport, board the flight, fly for roughly an hour from Penang to KL, get unpacked, and then spend another hour on the road to reach a customer’s doorsteps.
The whole process could take at least four to five hours, and that doesn’t even take into account bad weather, traffic, or flight delays.
Since the food won’t be frozen, we’re wondering how fresh can the dishes be kept throughout this longer-than-usual delivery duration. Will the noodles still be springy? Will the sauces have dried up?
airasia hasn’t fully revealed how they’ll be accomplishing this feat, so it remains to be seen what our food will look like once it arrives.
2. How secure will the packaging be?
Depending on the merchant, food can sometimes be badly packaged, whether due to a merchant’s carelessness or a factor that’s out of their control.
Add on to that fact that airasia will be bringing food upon a flight where turbulence is inevitable, and where air pressure while flying will cause packages to expand, and one has to wonder: will our food really survive the journey?
This could be circumvented by using special packaging, whether as an additional layer by airasia, or by merchants themselves (who might have to secure such packaging from airasia itself).
3. What happens to food that is no longer presentable upon arrival?
In the event that the packaging breaks and spillage occurs during any part of the journey, we wonder what kinds of safeguards have been put in place by airasia.
Have merchants been instructed to make backups that will also be sent on the flight as a precautionary measure? Does airasia intend to refund customers?
Or is this why customers can only order in a bundle of three (minimum) as we had to do with our meal from Tiger Char Koay Teow?
4. Will the food be flown in with passenger flights?
airasia will make its first round of deliveries this Wednesday, August 17, which is when our own food should arrive as well.
As we’re currently promised a delivery slot between 5 to 5.30PM, it would make sense for the AirAsia flight to arrive by 4PM if it was going to make it to our Bangsar South delivery location on time. That’s a 50-minute drive from KLIA2.
The closest time we were able to find was a flight arriving at 2.45PM tomorrow. This would give the food enough time to arrive at our doorstep in a timely manner, assuming they have to go through the usual check-out processes on flights.
Of course, there is also a possibility that the food will be flown in along with other cargo deliveries with a different schedule altogether.
5. Will there be a maximum order limit from customers?
It is not known if airasia will be limiting the number of orders each merchant can accept, since cargo space in each flight has to be accounted for.
If there is an order limit per flight, and the uptake for this service takes off, it then makes sense as to why airasia is allowing customers to schedule their orders up to 30 days in advance.
6. What is the value for merchants?
At launch, there are nine merchants available to order from, including Hameed Pata, Bangkok Lane, Jeruk Madu Pak Ali, Nyonya Kuih from Li Er Cafe, Nasi Kandar from Hameediyah, and White Curry Mee, amongst others.
The airline is also calling for more Penang merchants to join the offering, since it aims to give these businesses more visibility to airasia Super App users across the region.
If the ball is in the merchant’s court to go the extra mile in packaging their dish to be cargo safe, we wonder if airasia will incentivise them for the extra costs and labour involved.
7. Is there actually genuine demand for this (beyond novelty), and what market validation did airasia do?
(Or, are we the market validation…? Hm.)
With airasia delivering Penang food to Klang Valley, it suggests that KL folks will get to satisfy their cravings without having to travel themselves, saving on flight tickets and associated travel costs.
However, cravings aren’t exactly a planned affair, and most people would want to scratch that itch immediately. While pre-ordering a few days ahead would still make sense, pre-ordering a month in advance doesn’t.
To add, cravings are usually very personal, and with airasia making customers buy their dishes in a bundle, you’d need to get friends or family onboard, or finish up the food over a few meals.
It’s also worth noting that there are some Penang merchants on airasia’s list that already have outlets in Klang Valley. For instance, Nasi Kandar from Hameediyah has outlets in Kota Damansara, Ampang, and KL.
Jeruk Madu Pak Ali also has branches in Puchong, Shah Alam, and Batu Caves.
We couldn’t find the Klang Valley outlets for both these restaurants available for delivery on airasia food, but they are listed on GrabFood, which is still a quicker option than ordering from Penang.
In this case then, why would a customer willingly pre-order meals from these outlets in advance, and wait at least a day or more for delivery?
airasia’s popularity in its early days came from it challenging the status quo of who gets to fly, opening up the leisure travel sector to everyday people.
However, over the years, we’ve observed that it began to slow its roll. When rolling out its food delivery and e-hailing services, one could even say they were late to the party.
Previously, Tony Fernandes said of their ride hailing strategy, “I’ve got eight years of Grab doing it to learn from. I don’t have to waste all that money, with experimentation, building technology, training drivers and training the market how to order, they have done it all for me.”
Although, with airasia’s pilot drone deliveries (though there’s been no further news of it since) and now its intercity food deliveries, we have to say, there is something to admire about the company’s guts in rolling out experimental services.
This intercity food delivery service is also smartly leveraging existing airasia resources and infrastructure to elevate its regular food delivery service.
Regardless of whether there is demand for intercity food deliveries, the airasia Super App has been known to launch new services fast, gain customer feedback, and continuously refine their ideas.
From what we can see, this intercity food delivery service is still rather rudimentary, if our driver “Testboy 1” with car “ABC123” is of any indication.
Nonetheless, we’re still quite stoked to see how our food will arrive, and we’ll definitely be writing about our experience, so stay tuned for updates!
- Read other articles we’ve written about airasia here.
Featured Image Credit: airasia’s newsroom