Joyce Lam
Joyce is a Senior Trends Analyst at Mintel, focusing on capturing consumer behaviour for the Asia Pacific market, as well as supporting the global Mintel Trends team to identify new consumer trends.

Chengdu Airlines has launched a themed airplane to promote the spicy food culture in China’s Sichuan province.

Traveling between Chengdu and Shanghai, passengers receive a spicy gift package that includes special chili powder, posters of enticing spicy food and a red pepper-shaped cushion. According to Chengdu Airlines, the ‘Spicy Flight’ plays a positive role in publicising the city’s culture and serves as a bridge linking the city’s gourmet food and tourism with the rest of the world.


Food is an important element to attract tourism; Mintel research reveals that nearly eight in 10 domestic holidaymakers are most willing to spend on unique local food and restaurants. This may not be surprising as each region in China has its own cuisine and food specialities, and people are willing to travel to try out the most authentic version of these dishes. Sichuan spicy food and hotpot have therefore become a ‘must-do’ for both business and leisure travellers who are travelling to cities like Chengdu and Chongqing. Chengdu Airlines’ themed plane is shedding new light on its local food culture, creating excitement and public awareness of the region’s dining values.

This is not the first time that China’s aviation industry has cooperated with the food sector to provide travellers with unique experience; confectionery brand Snickers partnered with China Eastern Airlines in 2018 to launch a Snickers-themed plane. When arriving on board, travellers who were rushing home for Chinese New Year could enjoy a live demonstration of an in-flight Snickers-themed meal being prepared. The plane provided onboard Wi-Fi services, purportedly to encourage travellers to share photos of their experience on social media.

What we think

The tourism industry in China is growing rapidly as Chinese consumers have more disposable income. From trying out tasty dishes to visiting historical and natural sites, consumers will be increasingly looking for authentic experiences. Their desire to learn about the local culture and heritage will lead to a higher demand for interactions with locals and present opportunities for travel companies to come up with tours that help them to understand how food is cultivated before it ends up on their plates.