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Airline Meal Costs?  
User currently offlineSankaps From United States of America, joined Jan 2008, 2255 posts, RR: 2
Posted (5 years 2 months 4 weeks 8 hours ago) and read 16085 times:

Does anyone have any information on typical airline meals costs for long-haul business and economy class meals, including drinks? How much do airlines typically pay per meal or budget per head? Especially airlines on the Transatlantic?

Cheers,
Sankaps.

30 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineLudavid777 From United States of America, joined Jun 2001, 206 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (5 years 2 months 4 weeks 6 hours ago) and read 15905 times:

When I worked at a travel agency a few years back, we had charter flights, in which catering was not included within the charter contract. So we basically purchased the meals from LSG SkyChefs. Back then for Y-class they would charge us $5.50 for a cold snack (sandwich/salad), and $7.50-$9.50 (depending on the menu) for a hot entree. The price only included the actual food, we had to provide all trays, disposable meal utensils, napkins, cups, etc from another provider. In addition contractually they had to cater the ice, beverages, and misc, for an additional price. It add up pretty quickly so you were looking at $9-$12 all in per person.

I would assume major airlines that serve thousands of meals every day, get a way much better deal. Specially airlines like Continental that own their own catering company and on the side sell food to starbucks, and other airlines for profit.


User currently offlineQM001 From Portugal, joined Mar 2004, 281 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (5 years 2 months 4 weeks 5 hours ago) and read 15823 times:

Well its a very difficult question to answer to be frank, you need to be more specific as to what type of meal, is it a long haul flight, in which case there will be several, whose equipment will be used, what class of service, drinks selection, departure point... etc etc etc.

I used to work for BA and on average at the time, the cost of an hot economy class meal ex JNB would average around $4.50 excluding equipment services. From most European stations at the time, the same meal would average in at around 3 times that. This does not include drinks service at all.

If you want to know the true cost to an airline, you also have to take into account the costs for carrrying all the meals and associated equipment with them. I would expect that some carriers do indeed get a better deal, but not by that much, there is a tremendous amount of work, and regulatory issues involved. For short flights, the way to go is just bring on board, or a snack box for a fixed fee.

I hope that helps a little.

Rgds,

QM001 (167 Air Malawi)



I wish there was still a flying boat service on the African Lakes!
User currently offlineMEA-707 From Netherlands, joined Nov 1999, 4304 posts, RR: 36
Reply 3, posted (5 years 2 months 4 weeks 5 hours ago) and read 15758 times:

the main point is airline meals are more expensive then you'd think. Even if they look like a 1,99 microwave meal, added costs are bringing them to the airport, inside the airplane, flying ovens and trolleys around to heat them up and training and salaries for the F/A's to serve them.
A hot meal in Y, say the typical first served meal on a longer flight, just the simple one; an aluminium container with some chicken or pasta, a salad, a drink and a piece of cake, would easily make $15-20 in costs I would say.



nobody has ever died from hard work, but why take the risk?
User currently offlineManu From Canada, joined Dec 2004, 406 posts, RR: 7
Reply 4, posted (5 years 2 months 4 weeks 5 hours ago) and read 15730 times:



Quoting MEA-707 (Reply 3):
training and salaries for the F/A's to serve them.

Salaries for the FA's to serve? They're flying to the destination anyway given the safety numbers required, so why not have a meal service as well? I think you can't include labour from the FA. Training, yes--that's a good point.

Quoting MEA-707 (Reply 3):
Even if they look like a 1,99 microwave meal

Wouldn't it be possible to put a microwave on the plane and everyone could just buy their own meals in a freezer? Even a $1.99 meal could be charged out at $5 and it would still be more tasty than some of the stuff I've had in the past.

AA had the bagged lunch you picked up before boarding, just before they stopped serving food on domestic services. That was a great way to eliminate much of these costs.

All I am saying is there has to be a way to provide better service for less cost! Granted, ultra-long haul may be more difficult but often lunch/dinner/breakfast is served right after they get to cruise.


User currently offlineEghansen From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 5, posted (5 years 2 months 4 weeks 4 hours ago) and read 15604 times:



Quoting MEA-707 (Reply 3):
would easily make $15-20 in costs I would say.

That is too much. The typical economy class hot meal costs about $5 to make.

There are other expenses but they are not saved by eliminating meals. For example, it costs about $100 for a catering truck to service an aircraft. But eliminating meals does not reduce the catering truck cost because they still must deliver drink carts.

Airlines also make money from catering, principally from the $6 single serving liquor containers that are sold in economy. This is clear profit because there is no spoilage or disposal of uneaten meals and the liquor bottles are loaded on as many aircraft as required for them to be sold.

The sad part is that eliminating most of the perks that that used to come with flying has done very little to boost airline profits. And the airlines that did eliminate the food (such as American) are no more profitable than those that did not (Continental),

One wonders what was the point was of doing it in the first place.


User currently onlineStitch From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 30623 posts, RR: 84
Reply 6, posted (5 years 2 months 4 weeks 3 hours ago) and read 15527 times:
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The last data I saw was a few years back for KE. The total cost, including the meal, silverware, glassware, utensils, beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) and everything needed to prepare, deliver, store, serve, recover, and dispose of was:

$80 for First Class
$40 for Business Class
$20 for Economy Class


User currently offlineRoseFlyer From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 9510 posts, RR: 52
Reply 7, posted (5 years 2 months 4 weeks 3 hours ago) and read 15503 times:

I've been told that a hot dinner service in business class will cost $50 to $100 per seat loaded. That includes the cost of food and beverages.


If you have never designed an airplane part before, let the real designers do the work!
User currently offlineIkramerica From United States of America, joined May 2005, 21476 posts, RR: 60
Reply 8, posted (5 years 2 months 4 weeks 3 hours ago) and read 15484 times:



Quoting RoseFlyer (Reply 7):
I've been told that a hot dinner service in business class will cost $50 to $100 per seat loaded. That includes the cost of food and beverages.

That does factor in the cost of free liquor though, which has to include decent wines in J.



Of all the things to worry about... the Wookie has no pants.
User currently offlineLufthansa From Christmas Island, joined May 1999, 3204 posts, RR: 10
Reply 9, posted (5 years 2 months 3 weeks 6 days 23 hours ago) and read 14561 times:



Quoting Ikramerica (Reply 8):
That does factor in the cost of free liquor though, which has to include decent wines in J.

Yes(in the case of business class) because remember these are normally intercontinental flights at thus the alcohol consumed is duty free. First no... because on some carriers in true first class outfits basically only found up the front of A340s, 777s and 747s get completely carried away with 10 year vintage Dom or Krug and the likes of these things. Though do remember that in most countries, alcohol taxes are a % of the value of the product rather then a fixed amount...so for every expensive wines etc you'll find they cost less then half of the price when you take off the tax and buy them at wholesale. Now in first class this is still expensive. But it means something like say non-vintage Moet/ Vueve... that kind of thing typical of long haul business classes... or say something like Piper Heidsieck Cuvee Brut (which a few years back they used to serve in economy class on SIA on long haul free of charge!) becomes quite reasonable. Remember there are 2 discounts. The first is getting the government out of the way and no 'sin' tax. The second is buying at wholesale prices.

I've heard that UA839/UA840 out of SYD to California typically costs about $10 000 AUD to cater for the entire aircraft. (744)


User currently offlineMashimaro1 From Australia, joined Dec 2007, 46 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (5 years 2 months 3 weeks 6 days 22 hours ago) and read 14209 times:



Quoting Lufthansa (Reply 9):
I've heard that UA839/UA840 out of SYD to California typically costs about $10 000 AUD to cater for the entire aircraft. (744)

Just about to say that myself, I worked at Gate Gourmet which caters UA's flights ex SYD and I asked my boss once "How much does it cost to cater?" and she said around the 10k mark.


User currently offlineBrilondon From Canada, joined Aug 2005, 4137 posts, RR: 1
Reply 11, posted (5 years 2 months 3 weeks 6 days 22 hours ago) and read 14083 times:



Quoting Eghansen (Reply 5):
The sad part is that eliminating most of the perks that that used to come with flying has done very little to boost airline profits. And the airlines that did eliminate the food (such as American) are no more profitable than those that did not (Continental),

One wonders what was the point was of doing it in the first place.



Quoting Stitch (Reply 6):
The last data I saw was a few years back for KE. The total cost, including the meal, silverware, glassware, utensils, beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) and everything needed to prepare, deliver, store, serve, recover, and dispose of was:

$80 for First Class
$40 for Business Class
$20 for Economy Class

If you figure on an average load of 75 % you are looking at a significant amount of money over a period of a month/year.



Rush for ever; Yankees all the way!!
User currently offlineIke From Brazil, joined Aug 2007, 17 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (5 years 2 months 3 weeks 6 days 20 hours ago) and read 13579 times:



Quoting MEA-707 (Reply 3):
A hot meal in Y, say the typical first served meal on a longer flight, just the simple one; an aluminium container with some chicken or pasta, a salad, a drink and a piece of cake, would easily make $15-20 in costs I would say.

You are absolute correct. A hot meal on a regular international flight of 9 to 10 hours are around $20.00. It does not look that expensive, does it>.

Now you do figure in some destinations a non-show factor is over 10% of a flight capacity how much money and food the airline could save.  Confused


User currently offlineEghansen From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 13, posted (5 years 2 months 3 weeks 6 days 19 hours ago) and read 13230 times:



Quoting Brilondon (Reply 11):
If you figure on an average load of 75 % you are looking at a significant amount of money over a period of a month/year.

There is no doubt that cutting meals saves money. I picked up this quote from an article about airline meals: "American Airlines said in 2005 that it would save $30 million a year by eliminating the remaining free food in coach."

http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com...Less/TheDeathOfTheAirlineMeal.aspx

Yet when you compare the profitability of American which removed meals and Continental which kept meals, Continental does not seem to be hurting by serving meals.

Quoting Stitch (Reply 6):
$80 for First Class
$40 for Business Class
$20 for Economy Class

You have to define what a "meal" is. When I give the $5.00 price for a domestic meal, I do not include liquor because that has always been sold at a profit nor do I include soft drinks because those have not been removed from aircraft.

The article I reference above states that Southwest spend $17.1 million on catering in 2002 even though Southwest does not serve any meals at all.

Virtually all mainline and many commuter flights are catered at some cost. Airlines consider loading carts full of soft drinks, pretzels and saleable liquor to be "catering" even if there is no food (cold or hot) served.


User currently offlineEghansen From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 14, posted (5 years 2 months 3 weeks 6 days 18 hours ago) and read 13007 times:



Quoting Lufthansa (Reply 9):
I've heard that UA839/UA840 out of SYD to California typically costs about $10 000 AUD to cater for the entire aircraft. (744)

That actually gives you an idea how cheap catering is. If a typical load on a 744 SYD-LAX is 300 pax, that works out to 33.33 AUD per person or US$24.57 at the current exchange rate.

This is an average of Y, J and F catering for a 14-hour flight serving at least 2 meals in every cabin and probably 3 in J and F plus soft drinks, coffee and liquor which is sold in Y and free in J and F.


User currently offlineLufthansa From Christmas Island, joined May 1999, 3204 posts, RR: 10
Reply 15, posted (5 years 2 months 3 weeks 6 days 18 hours ago) and read 12902 times:



Quoting Eghansen (Reply 14):
This is an average of Y, J and F catering for a 14-hour flight serving at least 2 meals in every cabin and probably 3 in J and F plus soft drinks, coffee and liquor which is sold in Y and free in J and F.

Last time I did UA economy on transpac (a couple of years back I will confess) UA was offering 1 hot dinner, a hot breakfast and a snack box with a sort of roll thing inside. Also, UA will be able to cater the aircraft cheaper in California then in Australia so you can factor that in a bit too. (cost of living believe it or not is Cheaper in CA then in Sydney... just goes to show you how crazy things have got there)

Also that included complementry Liqour in economy ex Australia (unlike trans atlantic UA still gives this on routes to Australia thank god!)

So if you were to look at a similar flight on Say American...with the crap economy meals they hand out...especially Americans breakfasts!!!! and no liqour included...then Americans costs would be coming in significantly below that at least for economy PAX. One may argue they spend more in front Cabins but UA looks similar there to me. I would argue it is a carrier like EK or QF that spend more in up the front, though I have heard AA's 763 upgraded business catering is starting to put them back in the game in that department.


User currently offlineFRAspotter From United States of America, joined May 2004, 2347 posts, RR: 9
Reply 16, posted (5 years 2 months 3 weeks 6 days 13 hours ago) and read 11812 times:



Quoting Lufthansa (Reply 15):
especially Americans breakfasts!!!!

One has to wonder exactly how expensive a croisant (sp?) can get!  Silly



"Drunks run stop signs. Stoners wait for them to turn green."
User currently offlineBurkhard From Germany, joined Nov 2006, 4387 posts, RR: 2
Reply 17, posted (5 years 2 months 3 weeks 6 days 12 hours ago) and read 11680 times:



Quoting Manu (Reply 4):
Wouldn't it be possible to put a microwave on the plane and everyone could just buy their own meals in a freezer? Even a $1.99 meal could be charged out at $5 and it would still be more tasty than some of the stuff I've had in the past.

I know of an Irish based airline that realizes everything they can do to charge the passenger. And the stewardesses give you a smile when you order a champain...


User currently offlineLH4116 From Sweden, joined Aug 2007, 1710 posts, RR: 14
Reply 18, posted (5 years 2 months 3 weeks 6 days 12 hours ago) and read 11627 times:

Well then let's take another example here. In Europe many airlines are cutting meals as well, basically what most airlines here serve on short haul routes is just sandwiches. So how much could one sandwich, a candy bar, and a drink cost?


SAS Plus is Business Class made faux!
User currently offlineAirbusA6 From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2005, 2011 posts, RR: 0
Reply 19, posted (5 years 2 months 3 weeks 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 11022 times:



Quoting Lufthansa (Reply 9):
Though do remember that in most countries, alcohol taxes are a % of the value of the product rather then a fixed amount...so for every expensive wines etc you'll find they cost less then half of the price when you take off the tax and buy them at wholesale.

In the UK, VAT (our sales tax) is a % of the selling price, whereas alcohol duties are based on the alcoholic strength, so that a cheap 14% Aussie red will attract more duty than a bottle of 12% Chateau Latour 1985!

The cost of loading up flights with free food isn't cheap, but then the flight would still be loaded with food/alcohol to buy plus those duty free and 'souvenir' trollies so it's not as if they can eliminate a whole category of ground costs.



it's the bus to stansted (now renamed national express a4 to ruin my username)
User currently offlineDingDong From United States of America, joined Jan 2007, 661 posts, RR: 0
Reply 20, posted (5 years 2 months 3 weeks 6 days 9 hours ago) and read 10696 times:



Quoting FRAspotter (Reply 16):
One has to wonder exactly how expensive a croisant (sp?) can get!  Silly

Actually, I'm wondering about olives in the salads. Big grin

OK, I'm kidding. Wink I'm referring to the [in]famous story where in 1987, AA's then-CEO, Robert Crandall, had a study done where eliminating a single olive in the F salad would save about $40,000 fleet-wide. Eliminating olives from salads entirely reportedly saved about $500,000 according to a book.

I also found an interesting airline trivia web page which lists some fun fact tidbits:

http://www.airlinequality.com/main/facts.htm

For domestic catering, AA paid $425 million in 2001.

SQ spends about $700 million (US?) annually for catering, with wine alone making up $16 million of that.

LSG Sky Chefs served 427 million meals for 260 airlines in 2001. Sadly, I have a feeling this number may have gone significantly down in the last few years.



DingDong, honey, please answer the doorbell!
User currently offlineLufthansa From Christmas Island, joined May 1999, 3204 posts, RR: 10
Reply 21, posted (5 years 2 months 3 weeks 6 days 8 hours ago) and read 10485 times:

To those talking about Americans costs and cost saving Vs CO....

I'd like to get you all to ask yourself this. Is saving $16 million dollars a huge saving? Now im not saying is $16 million dollars a huge amount of money, god knows it is and I for one certainly wish I had it. But, once again let me ask the question. Is $16 million a huge saving?

The reason I ask is I wont you all to put it into perspective. For the everyday person, amounts like that sounds huge. Sky high. Into the stratosphere. But lets look at it another way. Somebody above argued it hasn't hurt Continental by keepings this up. I would say indeed. It hasn't hurt AF or Lufthansa compared to SK who also gave it the jop for similar short sighted reasons.

So lets look at our $16 million dollar saving from skimping on some basic catering item. Lets say its scrambled egges on economy class intercontinental breakfasts. Now lets look at that as a percentage of revenue. Last year, a quick search on google finance reveals AA turned over approx $23.8 Billion. Our $16 million dollar saving turns out to be not even 0.067%. in other words, not even a tenth of 1 percent of turnover. Something that would be considered statistically insignificant, you'd round it down to zero.

So when i hear about cutbacks like this...to me this screams of desperation. It's a desperate grab for cash but comes at the expense of small areas people interact with.

A quick look at americans 2008 annual report (and a tad depressing i may point out) shows AA's total catering expenese for 08 came to$518 million. The vast majority of that belongs to intercontinental flights. This still represents just 2.17% of operating expenses. To put that in perspective... if i could get my customers to pay just 1.5% more... and increase my load factor say 2 or 3 percent, how much additional revenue would that bring in? And that there folks lays our arguement.


User currently offlineLongHauler From Canada, joined Mar 2004, 4915 posts, RR: 43
Reply 22, posted (5 years 2 months 3 weeks 6 days 8 hours ago) and read 10398 times:



Quoting Lufthansa (Reply 21):
To put that in perspective... if i could get my customers to pay just 1.5% more... and increase my load factor say 2 or 3 percent, how much additional revenue would that bring in? And that there folks lays our arguement.

But that IS the argument. Time and time again, passengers prove that the one and single only factor in deciding a flight is price. Nothing else ... then second on the list, and it is second by a wide margin is schedule, third is loyalty programs. I don't even think meals made the top 10!

One thing we have to understand, is that the average reader on here, is not an average passenger. While WE would love to pay nothing and get great service, the average passenger just want to get from A to B, as cheap as he can.



Never gonna grow up, never gonna slow down .... Barefoot Blue Jean Night
User currently offlineTrent1000 From Japan, joined Jan 2007, 555 posts, RR: 2
Reply 23, posted (5 years 2 months 3 weeks 6 days 8 hours ago) and read 10365 times:



Quoting Manu (Reply 4):
Wouldn't it be possible to put a microwave on the plane

possible, yes. But I think that ovens are the industry standard while microwave ovens are rarely installed owing to electrical safety issues.

After all, heated airline meals almost always have an aluminium foil cover. Try to microwave one of those (on a plane) and see the result!

Also, food is a good example of a value added product, processed, handled and stored by many until it is served. The actual product might be cheap, but the handling adds cost.


User currently offlineLH417AF025 From United States of America, joined Jan 2006, 276 posts, RR: 0
Reply 24, posted (5 years 2 months 3 weeks 6 days 8 hours ago) and read 10354 times:



Quoting Ike (Reply 12):
Now you do figure in some destinations a non-show factor is over 10% of a flight capacity how much money and food the airline could save.

the way you typically cater is by ordering on average -15 meals in eco to make up for the no shows... and in case they do all show up, the catering company has spares on hand.


25 Lufthansa : What passengers? Pax in north america? Maybe. I'd believe it when you consider the disgraceful effort Air Canada puts into long haul.... they should
26 TylerDurden : I do my 300K miles annually in the midde cabin and I do not even remotely consider the quality or quantity of food the airline serves as a factor whe
27 LongHauler : And yet, Air Canada carries a higher load factor in J, than all of its competitors on long haul routes. The only exception is CX where AC's J load fa
28 Eghansen : I certainly agree that price is what matters. The problem is that we don't see the low prices in the US. In Europe, you have Ryanair levels of servic
29 Viscount724 : EK probably does that to compensate for their cramped 10-abreast Y class seating on 777s while most of their direct competitors are 9-abreast, and 7-
30 Ikramerica : And as you use these cuts to prop up your bottom line, you end up running out of cuts as time goes on. Then you have a badly run/over priced airline
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