Sunwing: Full-Flavoured At 35,000 Feet

With Martha Chapman

Lynn Crawford with Sunwing’s Stephen Hunter

The new inflight menu

Flight attendants Michelle Gosselin and
Maue Binette serve mimosas to the Sunflight staff (note: not an everyday occurance!)

The sparkling new Sunwing head office

Airline food has been the butt of jokes since…well, probably since the Wright Brothers. No longer, if Stephen Hunter of Sunwing and celebrity chef Lynn Crawford have anything to say about it.

The pair have recently debuted the new Sunwing Airlines inflight menu, which marks a notable change in the carrier’s on board service. 

Sunwing will continue to include a complimentary glass of bubbly on all of its flights, but as of last month all of the food is buy-on-board.

“We realized that not only were we the last carrier in North America to provide free food, but also that so many of our customers were getting grab-and-go that they either weren’t interested in what we were offering – or taking just a bite of our complimentary food and wasting it,” Stephen Hunter, CEO of the Sunwing Travel Group told me.  

Although not a big TV watcher, he says he’s hooked on the Food Network and had always admired Canadian chef Lynn Crawford’s work.

“And she was the best fit for us: she’s real, she creates food that’s palatable, and she’s travelled this country from coast to coast.”

Since 19OCT Sunwing Airlines has been featuring three Crawford creations on each flight: beef short ribs, vegetarian malfalda corta pasta and peameal-on-a-bun (as Crawford notes: “How Canadian is that?”) along with other menu items such as sandwiches, pizza, noodles and mac’n’cheese – a big hit with the kids. 

Food items range in price from $3.50 for a chocolate bar to $14 for the beef short ribs. Beverage options on Sunwing remain unchanged, though the company notes that liquor sales have risen with the introduction of the new menu.

“In 30 years of working with inflight services, I’ve never seen passengers so excited," Vice-President of Inflight Operations Marcella Howley says. “They love every item on the menu and are giving very positive feedback to the flight attendants.”

Crawford says that her twitter account is now abuzz with comments from pleased passengers, to the point that she teases that Sunwing will have to take over the operation of her account.

The chef, who worked for Four Seasons Hotels for 24 years, is clearly tickled by the relationship with her new client. “When you get on a plane, you want something comforting, good real food that’s not too ‘chefy’. These meals were inspired from the heart,” she says.  

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