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Why Do US Carriers Charge For Food?  
User currently offlineMoolies From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Posted (10 years 11 months 6 days ago) and read 3817 times:

Hi, why is it US carriers charge people in economy for meals when other ailines such as BA and SAA don't, besides the conomic costs is there any other reason?

36 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineConcordeBoy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 1, posted (10 years 11 months 6 days ago) and read 3800 times:

You truly think BA and SA provide meals free out of the goodness of their being?

Or do you think that their market reacts somewhat less negatively to the competition induced by including meal prices in the ticket?  Big grin


User currently offlineKaiGywer From United States of America, joined Oct 2003, 12254 posts, RR: 35
Reply 2, posted (10 years 11 months 6 days ago) and read 3758 times:
AIRLINERS.NET CREW
FORUM MODERATOR

In Europe (only place I've flown except the US), you always get food on even short routes. On OSL-SVG with SK, you'd always get some kind of sandwich or wrap and a drink. And that's a 45 minute flight. In the US, you don't even get food on a cross country. If you're lucky you get to keep the WHOLE pop to yourself  Big grin


911, where is your emergency?
User currently offlineKYIPpilot From United States of America, joined Oct 2003, 1383 posts, RR: 6
Reply 3, posted (10 years 11 months 5 days 23 hours ago) and read 3728 times:

Um, yes you do get food on some US carriers still. I got a full meal plus extra snacks on a CO flight last spring...


"It starts when you're always afraid; You step out of line, the man come and take you away" -Buffalo Springfield
User currently offlineArtsyman From United States of America, joined Feb 2001, 4745 posts, RR: 34
Reply 4, posted (10 years 11 months 5 days 23 hours ago) and read 3684 times:

The general rule is that people in the US have decided that the first priority is having a cheap ticket. Therefore the airlines are cutting frills that the passenger doesn't want in order to meet the low fare structures that the passenger wants. They then charge money for the passengers that do want a meal and are willing to pay for it. As the above poster mentioned, Continental still gives meals on almost every flight, and doesn't charge for it.

Also comparing BA / AF with the US domestic system is a bit mute. BA domestically can only have a max of a 90 min flight within the UK, whereas you can have a 7 hour domestic flight in the US.

Jeremy


User currently offline764 From United States of America, joined Jul 2001, 624 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (10 years 11 months 5 days 22 hours ago) and read 3609 times:

Artsyman: Actually PEOPLE didn't decide anything. It was just a few "supersmart" Marketing people who decided that. I am working for an airline as a customer analysis myself and I have to say that it is simply not true. People want to have some kind of service, even if it is just a little bag with a sandwich and an apple that is distributed at the gate when boarding (AA did that for a while). Nobody seems to like those pretzels or cheese snacks. Generally there has to be a number of nonalcoholic drinks and water on ALL flights and there should be a little snack (NOT pretzels or the like) on flights over an hour or so. That seems to be the most reasonable and the cost per passenger would be under $5.
Unfortunately my fellow marketing professionals are not looking at what the customer WANTS, but at which way they can make them PAY somem more. In the end, travelling did not get any cheaper due to the exclusion of meals.

Here's one thing that ACA did last year that cost them less than a buck per passenger and that PAXes really liked: They handed out Quaker Oatmeal Bars. See - It's that easy.


User currently offlineCtbarnes From United States of America, joined Mar 2000, 3491 posts, RR: 50
Reply 6, posted (10 years 11 months 5 days 22 hours ago) and read 3573 times:

Amen, 764!

Worse still, it creates even bigger problems for the airlines because of how many meals to actually load, what happens to them if no one buys, and what happens if a flight runs short. The whole thing could backfire in the long run by creating a demand then are unable to satisfy it. They also have to pay for the meals whether they are used or not, so I quesiton whether it's actually cheaper in the long run.

It seems the approach to customer service is often how much can we take away before people really start to complain, giving the major airlines the reputation of being cheap and stingy. There has to be some kind of equalibruim between being cost efficient and providing good (not necessarily extravigant) amnities.

It would be nice if someone in the industry took the opposite tact: Providing free meals and at least 32 inch seat pitch makes good business sense, and can generate loyalty among your customers.

Charles, SJ



The customer isn't a moron, she is your wife -David Ogilvy
User currently offlineConcordeBoy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 7, posted (10 years 11 months 5 days 21 hours ago) and read 3568 times:

. It was just a few "supersmart" Marketing people who decided that.

So tell me, how exactly can one be labled a "supersmart marketing person", should s/he make financial/operation decisions contrary to what customers will pay for.


People want to have some kind of service

Who cares whether they want it... the question (which, in the USA, has been answered time and time again with a resounding "no!") is whether they'll pay more for it.

Surely a "customer analysis" such as yourself has heard of the 5 cent rule?  Laugh out loud  Insane



User currently offlineAIR757200 From United States of America, joined Jul 2000, 1579 posts, RR: 7
Reply 8, posted (10 years 11 months 5 days 21 hours ago) and read 3567 times:

Here's one thing that ACA did last year that cost them less than a buck per passenger and that PAXes really liked: They handed out Quaker Oatmeal Bars. See - It's that easy.

Uhmm, I managed to get that exact same thing on my previous A.M. flight on A.A.- so it's not just ACA doing it.


User currently offlineCtbarnes From United States of America, joined Mar 2000, 3491 posts, RR: 50
Reply 9, posted (10 years 11 months 5 days 21 hours ago) and read 3526 times:

Who cares whether they want it... the question (which, in the USA, has been answered time and time again with a resounding "no!") is whether they'll pay more for it.

That, in a nutshell, is the problem. Perhaps the question needs to be recast so we ask, "if we give them what they want, and do so consistently, will they keep coming back?" That answer in the USA has been answered time and time again with a resounding "yes!"

Customer-focused service+empowered employees=satisfied customers=satisfied employees=consistant profits.

Such an outlook renders the 5-cent rule irrelevant.

Charles, SJ



The customer isn't a moron, she is your wife -David Ogilvy
User currently offlineRiverVisualNYC From United States of America, joined Nov 2003, 930 posts, RR: 3
Reply 10, posted (10 years 11 months 5 days 21 hours ago) and read 3482 times:

764 got it right, how much did it ever cost the airlines to offer a basic meal anyway? A few dollars per person, which could easily be built into the ticket price. In fact, I am sure there is some dollar amount that many people would be willing to pay extra for, maybe $10 in economy class, if people knew they could expect a decent meal. However, unlike Europe, America is currently possessed by a pay-as-you-go mentality where tapped out consumers look for the cheapest deal, rather than the best value. I would absolutely pay a few dollars more for an airline ticket if I knew I was going to get served a decent meal on the flight, and not have to bring a bag of fast food onboard or purchase some off of a stressed out FA who now, in addition to being responsible for safety and service, is responsible for hawking meals and making change. Alot of the current thinking stems from the fact that comedians made fun of airline food, which was never really that bad, for so long that the public was trained to believe it was worthless. This in turn made it easy for cost-obsessed airline managements to eliminate the meals or reintroduce them as branded products you can pay for. I imagine they would have you pay extra for an oxygen mask or a seatbelt if they could legally get away with it.

User currently offlineConcordeBoy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 11, posted (10 years 11 months 5 days 21 hours ago) and read 3482 times:

That answer in the USA has been answered time and time again with a resounding "yes!"

Oh? Why not cite a few examples.


User currently offlineKaiGywer From United States of America, joined Oct 2003, 12254 posts, RR: 35
Reply 12, posted (10 years 11 months 5 days 21 hours ago) and read 3475 times:
AIRLINERS.NET CREW
FORUM MODERATOR

The point isn't necessarily WHAT you get, but the fact that you get SOMETHING. RyanAir was taking a lot of critic for not serving food. Everybody complains about how terrible airplane food is, but still, we want it. It is just one thing that have always separated bus, train and planes,you get fed at planes  Smile


911, where is your emergency?
User currently offlineBicoastal From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 13, posted (10 years 11 months 5 days 20 hours ago) and read 3461 times:

I think the paying for food phenomenon will spread to the rest of the world. LCCs are starting up and growing on virtually every continent. The major airlines are getting the pricing pressure from LCCs in their own regions/countries, as their American counterparts already have, you'll see more and more service, food and perks being eliminated from the "majors" worldwide, especially on their short and medium routes.





User currently offlineKaiGywer From United States of America, joined Oct 2003, 12254 posts, RR: 35
Reply 14, posted (10 years 11 months 5 days 20 hours ago) and read 3447 times:
AIRLINERS.NET CREW
FORUM MODERATOR

With all the competition LCCs give, wouldn't it be a good move for the majors to actually reinvent the airplane meal, kinda to get more customers out of it. Like mentioned earlier, the price of a meal isn't all that  Smile


911, where is your emergency?
User currently offlineCtbarnes From United States of America, joined Mar 2000, 3491 posts, RR: 50
Reply 15, posted (10 years 11 months 5 days 20 hours ago) and read 3458 times:

Oh? Why not cite a few examples

Southwest, JetBlue, Continental, Alaska Airlines, and moving further afield, British Airways, Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Air New Zeland just to name a few.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. Southwest's success has less to do with their cost structure, than it does with having a simple, easy to use product combined with enthusiastic employees and a corporate philosophy that reflects a can-do mentality that is reflected in its customer service. You buy a ticket on Southwest, you know exactly what you are getting. There are few surprises, few opportunities for disappointment, and it's consistent. No one in the industry seems to realize the major airlines should stop trying to ape Southwest's cost structure and start copying their service model.

Charles, SJ

P.S: You're absolutely right, RivervisualNYC. It's become something of a vicious cycle.

[Edited 2003-11-20 23:46:24]


The customer isn't a moron, she is your wife -David Ogilvy
User currently offlineRiverVisualNYC From United States of America, joined Nov 2003, 930 posts, RR: 3
Reply 16, posted (10 years 11 months 5 days 20 hours ago) and read 3440 times:

It's interesting to see the divergent opinions on this issue. I think it comes down to the US mentality, which seeks lowest cost/price no matter what, and European mentality which seeks some minimum level of service and civility as long as it's a decent value. America will ultimately suffer for this mentality, as you can't have job growth and an improved standard of living when the economy is managed based not on topline expansion but on taking costs out of the system to keep prices low.

User currently offlineBicoastal From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 17, posted (10 years 11 months 5 days 18 hours ago) and read 3359 times:

RiverVisualNYC, I'm not sure I understand your point. Why then, are European airlines like Ryanair and Easyjet doing phenomenally well if Europeans demand something of more value? Those airlines have massive job growth and expansion. Sabena and Swiss, on the other hand, had topline expansion but ignored costs and one is history the other is struggling. The price conscious European traveler and businessperson, a growing class, are voting with their pocketbooks, much as their American counterparts already are.




User currently offlineAASTEW From Dominican Republic, joined Oct 2001, 447 posts, RR: 1
Reply 18, posted (10 years 11 months 5 days 18 hours ago) and read 3338 times:

It all comes back to the WN, FL, B6, F9, NK, and TZ of the industry. Those airlines have all proven for YEARS that they can fly passenger's around the country with no food, no magazines, movies, and no pillows/blankets as long as you provide a CHEAPER fare. The public has showed the airline industry that they can accept traveling like that ALL IN THE NAME OF PRICE!

The Big Five couldn't compete! Therefore, they started scrambling on ways to cut cost. Food went out the window! However, CO was able to keep their food onboard, because first their cost are among the lowest of the big Five. Furthermore, they own their catering company. It doesn't cost CO has much to produce a passenger meal compared to other airlines that use SkyChef's and GateGourmet.

What ever happened to the Midwest, Legend, Pan Am II, and National II way of doing things with more CLASS! Is their still a market for that? Our industry has changed, yet again!

Just my 2 cents!
AALGASTEW


User currently offlineBistro1200 From United States of America, joined Oct 2003, 337 posts, RR: 4
Reply 19, posted (10 years 11 months 5 days 17 hours ago) and read 3300 times:

The US has Wal-Mart, Europe has Aldi and Lidl. I think Europe is closely trailing the US as far as least-cost consumer awareness is concerned.


Measure to the millimeter, mark with a crayon, cut with an axe.
User currently offlineB727 From United States of America, joined Oct 1999, 521 posts, RR: 1
Reply 20, posted (10 years 11 months 5 days 17 hours ago) and read 3258 times:

Keep in mind that the cheaper fares are not happening.
If they took $10.00 off my ticket for not eating a meal, I would go for it. They are charging the same amount and providing lees service/goods. I personally dont give a damn about crappy airline food, but dont think the airlines are getting one past me.
Now if someone wants a meal thay have to pay a more to and purchase the food on top of and already high fare.


B727
Glenn


User currently offlinePatroni From Luxembourg, joined Aug 1999, 1403 posts, RR: 14
Reply 21, posted (10 years 11 months 5 days 16 hours ago) and read 3208 times:

The trend of airlines either to serve no food at all on shorter sectors or to charge for food is also increasing in Europe.
In the beginning, it was only found at the low cost airlines like Ryanair or EasyJet while the network carriers looked down on them and pointed out their superior service.
Well, with a weakening economy, more companies have become cost sensitive and don't care whether their employees have some frills during a flight or not. This is especially true for self-employed people and even more for private travellers.
So now even airlines like Swiss (who were proudly talking of the reinvention of civilized air travel not so long ago...) have abolished free meals on their shorter flights within Europe, same at Tyrolean/Austrian Errors. I think this will only be the beginning and others are due to follow the trend.

Speking of the risk to have too much or not sufficient catering on board: When I flew on Hapag-Lloyd Express last year, I noticed that they have outsourced the onboard catering to Gate Gourmet (?). The HLX flight attendants sell the snacks and drinks on behalf of Gate Gourmet and the airline cashes in a provision. The risk stays with the catering company. Actually a pretty clever system in my eyes.

Cheers,

Tom


User currently offlineJeffrey1970 From United States of America, joined Apr 2001, 1336 posts, RR: 12
Reply 22, posted (10 years 11 months 5 days 16 hours ago) and read 3211 times:

AASTEW,

I understand what you are saying. However I think you miss the point. Yes, airlines like Southwest, Frontier, Jetblue...etc get people to fly on them with low fares, but I feel what keeps them comming is there good customer service. I wonder if United and Delta truely understand that with there new LCC's.

God bless through Jesus,

Jeff



God bless through Jesus, Jeff
User currently offlineAA777MIA From United States of America, joined Aug 2003, 686 posts, RR: 3
Reply 23, posted (10 years 11 months 5 days 16 hours ago) and read 3196 times:

B727:

Are you trying to tell me that fares are the same as they were when the airlines served food? I BEG to differ big time. When you can fly coast to coast round trip for under $300, which is almost more than it cost to go to London now, I don't see it. I put this out there. Why can Virgin Blue charge for sodas and snacks, but if a US airline did that these days, people would cry foul...


User currently offlineCaptaink From Mexico, joined May 2001, 5109 posts, RR: 12
Reply 24, posted (10 years 11 months 5 days 15 hours ago) and read 3130 times:

My two cents? Airline charging for food is not only their way of cutting cost. THe ticket prices seem to be the same. Airlines are just using this as a nice way to make money. If every purchases a mean on every flight it is available on.. the airline would make a nice profit off the meals. The airlines need the extra cash. I don't support it at all though..


There is something special about planes....
25 Cdgdtw : "Are you going to feed us?" Any flight over 30 minutes and this question starts. It would seem this industry is in the midst of change, a cultural cha
26 Ctbarnes : Instead of complaining about passenger demands, why not try LISTENING to them? No one ever succeeded in business by telling their customers 'no.' Yet
27 Spark : This is a simple customer service fact. THE LAST TIME PEOPLE THINK ABOUT THE MONEY IS WHEN THEY PAY THE BILL. I don't care if I paid $50, or $200 for
28 Qqflyboy : I wrote this in another thread and will post it here. "I wish I had the numbers in front of me, but when AA told us we were removing food from most do
29 ScottB : Actually, if charging for meals *hadn't* been as successful as it has been, the US network carriers wouldn't have continued to roll it out to more and
30 BoingGoingGone : Because the don't charge enough for tickets. End of story.
31 Tokolosh : Personally, I appreciate meals on board as part of the service. Look at it this way: at home you have to pack, make sure you've got everything, get to
32 RiverVisualNYC : It's really sad when people think that $5 or $10 is enough of a savings to affect which airline they choose. Especially when, on average, this is goin
33 DLMHT : For years, I've heard people knocking airline food; calling it "mystery meat" and totally inedible. In response to this, and in response to the bleak
34 RiverVisualNYC : DLMHT: You seem to conclude that the food for sale is better because it's branded. Yet unbranded items are generally cheaper, and that's partly why pa
35 DLMHT : all I'm saying is.....the food offered now is of a lot more quality than before, so they can justify charging for it.
36 Luv2fly : I think the fact that they no longer offer food, and the level of service and the attitude is such that people naturally are complaining. The fact tha
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