Lori Zimmer

Virgin Atlantic Saves Millions in Fuel Costs by Redesigning the Humble Food Tray

by , 05/07/14

green design, eco design, sustainable design, MAP Project Office, Virgin Atlantic, Fuel efficiency airplane

Industrial design consultancy MAP just saved Virgin Atlantic millions of dollars in fuel costs by simply redesigning the airline’s in-flight meal tray. By streamlining the tray’s design, the British firm has helped Virgin cut fuel consumption and carbon emissions. The new design breaks up the meal into a main course followed by dessert and coffee, saving on packaging materials.



green design, eco design, sustainable design, MAP Project Office, Virgin Atlantic, Fuel efficiency airplane
Virgin Atlantic first approached MAP for the redesign because they wanted to give their customers more room while enjoying their in-flight meals. Rather than serving everything at once, they decided to break up the meal into courses. MAP reduced the main tray, scaling back to just serve the entrée. The dessert and coffee could then be served a la carte, eliminating the need for an additional serving tray.

Related: Virgin Atlantic Announces Plans to Fuel Airplanes With Waste Gas

This simple reduction not only made economy class customers more happy, with more room while eating in their seats, but the subsequent reduction also saves energy. With MAP’s design, the existing Virgin Atlantic carts can hold four trays, as opposed to the previous design where only three could fit in. More trays means less heavy clunky carts, lightening the overall load per flight. MAP also designed a two-tier tray for First Class, a sleek new coffee pot, and a space saving spongy tray liner instead of the old paper ones.

MAP estimates 53 pounds of weight will be saved per flight. With millions of Virgin flights, the savings in both fuel costs and emissions adds up – demonstrating how even small steps can have extraordinary results.

+ MAP Project Office

Via Fast Co Design

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