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How Much Is Food A Cost Issue For Airlines  
User currently offlineSteph001 From Germany, joined Oct 2003, 315 posts, RR: 1
Posted (10 years 9 months 2 weeks 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 4691 times:

I have noticed that besides LCC's some bigger airlines give up food on flights in economy class. I used Ryanair a couple of times and when buying food on Ryanair you get something like a meal in economy class for about 10-15 Euro. I think Ryanair is making good profits with the food they sell on their flights, therefore I guess an airline could negotiate with the catering services at their hubs to get economy class food at much lower prices. Anyway, food can make a ticket only about 20-40 Euro cheaper, so why cut it, it's not THE big cost when flying, or are there some other problems connected to food service in economy , something as longer turnaround times?

22 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineAhlfors From Canada, joined Oct 2000, 1347 posts, RR: 5
Reply 1, posted (10 years 9 months 2 weeks 1 day 10 hours ago) and read 4650 times:

I think it depends on what people want. On an intercontinental flight, almost everyone wants food and is willing to pay for it, so you include it in the ticket price. One shorter flights, not everyone wants food, so you keep the prices low by charging only those that want the food. That way, your food is of better quality and you can effectively compete on price with LCCs.

User currently offlineMoolies From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 2, posted (10 years 9 months 2 weeks 1 day 10 hours ago) and read 4619 times:

Food is a huge expense for airlines. Towards the end of last year Time magazine published an article saying that a few years ago AA saved +- $40000 buy removing just one olive from each first class salad.



User currently offlineSteph001 From Germany, joined Oct 2003, 315 posts, RR: 1
Reply 3, posted (10 years 9 months 2 weeks 1 day 9 hours ago) and read 4553 times:

Moolies: I don't think $40000 is such a big figure for AA, I think they buy big quantities of food and they could , if they intended it, save as much by renegotiate meal prices with the catering services at their hubs. I am just wondering if LCC's don't take food for every passenger to shorten turnaround times and if the big saving from not offering food comes not from food price, but from shorter turnaround times.

Ahlfors: You are right, nevertheless I don't think that "regular" airlines can compete with LCC's by not offering food, at least in Europe Ryanair (including transportation costs to their remote airports) is still much cheaper than any big carrier.


User currently offlineB747Skipper From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 4, posted (10 years 9 months 2 weeks 1 day 7 hours ago) and read 4488 times:

As a captain, I occasionally sign (or see) the catering bills after delivery to the airplane. A disgrace...
xxx
First of all, we often have to waste food. Even though we may have 250 passengers with reservations, we may load say, 320 meals... Many of these meals will be left, and thrown in the rubbish on arrival.
xxx
A stupid Y class meal, I call it a US$5.oo lasagna, may be billed $20.oo to the airline, and extra fees (or taxes) apply for "delivery" to the airplane. Sure, you could call another supplier, except that he does not have the "licence" to sell or deliver on airport property (i.e. Port Authority at JFK - a mafia)...
xxx
LCC getting rid of anything but beer, wine, and peanuts... understandable. I would not pay a penny for these Y class "beef stroganoff" meals, served on some major airlines.
xxx
Another fact... If cheap meals are expensive... the sad thing is, for a little more money, the airline could serve you much better food. The price difference (delivered to airplane) is minimal for first class catering.
xxx
Happy contrails  Smile
(s) Skipper


User currently offlineCarduelis From United Kingdom, joined Dec 2001, 1585 posts, RR: 10
Reply 5, posted (10 years 9 months 2 weeks 1 day 7 hours ago) and read 4449 times:

FWIW - 12 years ago the Catering budget for BA was GBP365,000,000 pa!

Just a mere One Million Pounds a day!





Per Ardua ad Astra! ........ Honi Soit Qui Mal y Pense!
User currently offlineRichardw From United Kingdom, joined May 2001, 3749 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (10 years 9 months 2 weeks 1 day 4 hours ago) and read 4378 times:

Some airlines could save a lot on flights when food is really not wanted by the passengers ie a NYC-LON flight leaving NYC after 10pm, most passengers have eaten before boarding so the waste on such a flight must be high.

User currently offlineSafetydude From United States of America, joined Sep 2001, 3795 posts, RR: 15
Reply 7, posted (10 years 9 months 2 weeks 1 day 4 hours ago) and read 4358 times:

Richardw,
What you said is actually a problem: a flight leaves a ten, boarding begins at 9, and then the time that one has to be there in advance (and getting to the airport) makes it nearly impossibly for almost everyone to eat.

Also, dinner is not going to be found in most terminals.
 Smile/happy/getting dizzy
-Will



"She Flew For What We Stand For"
User currently offlineGSPSPOT From United States of America, joined Sep 2003, 3016 posts, RR: 2
Reply 8, posted (10 years 9 months 2 weeks 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 4293 times:

Why couldn't airlines just have pax commit to either ordering food or not requesting it ahead of time for long-haul flights, then have almost exactly the amount of food required for a given flight, but no more? Wouldn't that work??


Finally made it to an airline mecca!
User currently offlineSteph001 From Germany, joined Oct 2003, 315 posts, RR: 1
Reply 9, posted (10 years 9 months 2 weeks 12 hours ago) and read 4216 times:

GSPSPOT, that would mean:
a.) that no passenger can have second thoughts about he food. Imagine being on a business trip and returning after you have worked all day. Depending on how things went or how tired you are you will be more or less happy with food, but I'm sure it's difficult to tell this ahead.
b.) airlines need a system to locate the passenger that ordered a specific food. Of course the big ones have that (seat reservation). F/A's will have to figure out inflight who ordered what and who didn't order anything, thus having less time for other duties.


User currently offlineRichardw From United Kingdom, joined May 2001, 3749 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (10 years 9 months 2 weeks 12 hours ago) and read 4205 times:

Yes, it does depend on the facilities available in the terminal, some can be very good, some poor. If available, I would rather eat in the terminal before 9pm than on the plane after 10pm.

User currently offlineCALMSP From United States of America, joined Aug 2003, 3942 posts, RR: 7
Reply 11, posted (10 years 9 months 2 weeks 11 hours ago) and read 4177 times:
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it only costs CO an average of $3 per coach meal. So its not that much, if you charge 5 more dollars than your covering your cost.


okay, I'm waiting for the rich to spread the wealth around to me. Please mail your checks to my house.
User currently offlineFlyinghighboy From Australia, joined Aug 2001, 749 posts, RR: 1
Reply 12, posted (10 years 9 months 2 weeks 11 hours ago) and read 4140 times:

How often do airlines throw meals out? Believe it or not, on some long haul flights some people and so do I get pretty darn hungry with the tiny portions that are given.

User currently offlinePe@rson From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2001, 19209 posts, RR: 52
Reply 13, posted (10 years 9 months 2 weeks 10 hours ago) and read 4106 times:

Listen to what the always-knowlegeable Skipper said..........

(I just wish people would ask me things related to criminal law, criminology and criminal justice - the subjects about which I'm most knowledgeable!) :-P

Anyway, I must add that FR's food prices are excessively priced - £4 (about $6.30) for a sandwich! Gees, that's half-way to a proper meal in a decent Indian.




"Everyone writing for the Telegraph knows that the way to grab eyeballs is with Ryanair and/or sex."
User currently offlineLatinAviation From United States of America, joined Nov 2003, 1276 posts, RR: 15
Reply 14, posted (10 years 9 months 2 weeks 8 hours ago) and read 4050 times:

Skipper got it right with the delivery costs. When I worked for a mAAjor airline, there was a big emphasis on how much these costs reall added the bottom line, especially when they would charge something like $50 to deliver ice to the aircraft.

Food & Beverage has, for the most part, become a function of finance with the purpose to wring every last penny out of spend. As Gordon Bethune once said, though, you can make a pizza so cheap people won't want to buy it.


User currently offlineBeltwaybandit From United States of America, joined Mar 2003, 495 posts, RR: 0
Reply 15, posted (10 years 9 months 2 weeks 7 hours ago) and read 4021 times:

I think I heard a Southwest executive say that they make like $5.00 profit off each seat per flight. If that is true, then a meal can be a big part of that (particularly if you are not charging for the meal).

User currently offlineSteph001 From Germany, joined Oct 2003, 315 posts, RR: 1
Reply 16, posted (10 years 9 months 1 week 6 days 9 hours ago) and read 3890 times:

But if Southwest would charge its passengers 5$ more on each flight they would still be very cheap, isn't it?

User currently offlineGSPSPOT From United States of America, joined Sep 2003, 3016 posts, RR: 2
Reply 17, posted (10 years 9 months 1 week 6 days 8 hours ago) and read 3852 times:

As a passenger (again), I would MUCH rather have food servied while I'm confined to a seat for 2-3 hours than to stand in line and have food slopped at me at some fast-food joint in the airport....


Finally made it to an airline mecca!
User currently offlineRichardw From United Kingdom, joined May 2001, 3749 posts, RR: 0
Reply 18, posted (10 years 9 months 1 week 6 days 8 hours ago) and read 3834 times:

Irrespective of the time of day GSPSPOT? even late at night when flying long haul?

Some airports offer better eating facilities than fast food.


User currently offlineSteph001 From Germany, joined Oct 2003, 315 posts, RR: 1
Reply 19, posted (10 years 9 months 1 week 6 days 8 hours ago) and read 3824 times:

Richardw, I agree that some airports offer better services than fast food, but most of them are also expensive. The only cheap airport I know is (Frankfurt)-Hahn HHN, the German hub for Ryanair. For the price you eat there you can only buy a sandwich and a coffee on FR's flights.

User currently offlineQqflyboy From United States of America, joined Oct 2003, 2275 posts, RR: 13
Reply 20, posted (10 years 9 months 1 week 6 days 4 hours ago) and read 3752 times:

Flyinghighboy...
If I have extra food, and someone asks me for another, I give it to them. It never hurts to ask, at the END of the meal service, ie, when the F/As are done delivering trays, to ask if there are extras. Most F/As would be happy to accommodate you if there are.

I wish I had the numbers in front of me, but when AA told us we were removing food from most domestic flights in coach, the savings was over a hundred million dollars a year. You're all right when you suggest the airline charge $5 more to cover the cost. But most leisure travelers would opt for the ticket that cost $5 less, leaving the airline with food with an empty seat. It is so hard for legacy carriers to compete with LCCs on cost, and that $5 for the airline and for the passenger is too much. Consumers have proven it.

My own two cents on the "buy-on-board" trend: Logistically, it has got to be a nightmare. How do you know at what levels to stock the plane? If you don't have enough, the passengers left without will be upset. If you have too much, the fresh items (salads, sandwiches, etc.) are spoiled, and you've lost money, which is what you were trying to avoid in the first place. AA recently announced "Buy at the gate," a program where you can buy food from airport vendors, like Au Bon Pain, Corner Bakery Cafe and TGI Fridays right at the gate, making it convenient for even those with tight connections. It costs AA nothing, and it gives options for every passenger. AA is testing the feature at SJU, JFK and DFW. So far, it appears successful.



The views expressed are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect my employer’s views.
User currently offlineLuv2fly From United States of America, joined May 2003, 12098 posts, RR: 49
Reply 21, posted (10 years 9 months 1 week 6 days 4 hours ago) and read 3737 times:
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I think the buy at the gate would make more sense and would keep help in either stocking to much to sell on board or to little....


You can cut the irony with a knife
User currently offlineSteph001 From Germany, joined Oct 2003, 315 posts, RR: 1
Reply 22, posted (10 years 9 months 1 week 6 days 4 hours ago) and read 3714 times:

I think food at the gate would be interesting, although it would not work on flights that are longer than 5 hours, where people expect to get several meals.

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