Friday, November 10, 2006

Two Good Reasons to Fly Qantas First Class

Qantas's kangaroo-tailed jets don't leave the tarmac without a stash of handmade chocolates in the first-class larder. What's more, the bon-bons aren't from faux-luxury big-money brands like Godiva (owned by the Campbell Soup Company) or Neuhaus (controlled by the Belgian investment firm behind Weight Watchers). Rather, the airline sources its truffles and pralines from two independent artisanal producers. Outbound flights from Australia feature a selection of seven custom-made chocolates with fillings that range from passionfruit to panforte, made by Kennedy & Wilson in Australia's Yarra Valley. Voyages returning to Oz from the west coast of the US carry exclusive boxes of milk-chocolate orange twigs and triple-chocolate almonds from Charles Chocolates in northern California. Qantas's willingness to present these products to its best customers is an indication that boutique chocolate companies are surpassing multinational manufacturers in terms of both quality and public recognition. Recent expansions at both K&W's headquarters (they make their own couverture and just upgraded from a 50-kilogram conche to one that accommodates 500 kilos) and the Charles Chocolate factory (where a new executive--former Scharffen Berger VP Glen Ishikata--has been added to the mix) no doubt also helped smooth out the production lines for these Qantas-only collections.

Qantas doesn't publicize its high-class chocolates, and airline spokespeople are reluctant to discuss how and why these particular chocolatiers were chosen. But there may have been a philosophical motivation behind taking Charles and K&W on board. When asked to supply a reason for Kennedy & Wilson's soaring success, the chocolate company's administration manager Christine Fryer answered, "our philosophy is simple: it's quality, quality, quality."


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