N62NA
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Buy On Board Meals

Sat Jan 08, 2005 3:42 am

Anybody know why the airlines (I guess primarily USA airlines) stock just a certain number of buy on board meals on flights?

I flew Song when they first started and was seated toward the back of the plane and by the time they got back to me, all the meals were gone.

Seems to me with computer technology being what it is, it should be easy enough to "reserve" a buy on board meal - say maybe at the time that you are picking your seat (either via the phone reservation agent or on the airline's website).

Anybody know why airlines aren't doing it this way?
 
DAYflyer
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RE: Buy On Board Meals

Sat Jan 08, 2005 3:45 am

I agree, you should be able to buy an on board meal on line when you buy your ticket. You should be able to choose it as well.
One Nation Under God
 
NWAFA
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RE: Buy On Board Meals

Sat Jan 08, 2005 3:47 am

Buy On Board Meals (known as BOB) are provided by the catering company's..It is the catering company's that make the decision on how many to have.

I have worked an A320 with a full load of passengers (148) and have had 28 meals, and not sold one. I have also worked an A319 with only 50 passengers and sold out by the 8th row.

A couple of months ago I was working a DTW-LAS flight..it was a test flight for BOB, they (the catering company) put on 120 meals for a full A320, not one passenger bought a meal. The return flight the next morning same thing, and only three meals were purchased.

Your question about reserving one is being tested and worked on now at NWA. Personally I would rather have that be the case instead of just at a whim, yet there are many bugs to work out.
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N62NA
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RE: Buy On Board Meals

Sat Jan 08, 2005 4:19 am

Thanks for the reply, NWAFA. Hopefully the airline can get some data sharing going on here with the catering company.
 
KarlB737
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RE: Buy On Board Meals

Sat Jan 08, 2005 4:20 am

I answered a similar post this way:

I flew a week ago from DTW to RSW and then the return 3 days later on Northwest. I really don't have a problem with Northwest but I was surprised that the meals offered for purchase were limited in number. In other words on both flights they didn't have enough available meals for purchase for the size of the aircraft. In this case A320 going south B757 on the return.

If the passengers are willing to pay for the meals WHY WOULDN'T they provide enough of them and benefit from the extra income.

Karl
 
NWAFA
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RE: Buy On Board Meals

Sat Jan 08, 2005 4:21 am

Karl,

I hope my post above answers your question. Its not NWA that makes that decison it is the catering company as THEY are the ones providing it. Belive it or not, NWA is not making money off this, they are just offering somthing to passengers.
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KarlB737
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RE: Buy On Board Meals

Sat Jan 08, 2005 4:25 am

I like the idea of reserving a meal for purchase.
 
NWAFA
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RE: Buy On Board Meals

Sat Jan 08, 2005 4:28 am

I kind of agree with you Karl.
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ei2ksea
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RE: Buy On Board Meals

Sat Jan 08, 2005 4:53 am

Doesnt Song allow you to purchase at the same time as your ticket? I thought that they did anyhow!

Just as NAWFA said, ive been a passenger on flights in the past few months where the BOB trolly has sped to the back of the plane without 1 purchase, and others where it gets 10 rows and thats that. Very hard one to call for the airlines i suppose, do we have a resident A.net psychologist who could analyse the theories of human nourishment and psychology for us!?

Regards
Ph
Next Flight: DUB-BOS (EI), BOS-DEN-PDX (SWA), SEA-BOS (AS)
 
zrs70
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RE: Buy On Board Meals

Sat Jan 08, 2005 4:54 am

Truth is, in this day and age, it buying a ticket online should follow Dell Computer's method: Build your own.

Your ticket comes with whatever amenity you choose.

Want access to the club but aren't a member? Add $50
Want alcoholic drink credits? $5 each (and if you don't use em, you can save them for next time. Why have to put the FA's through making change all the time?)
Want a headset? $5.
Want a gourmet meal? $15
Want a sandwich? $7
Want a salad? $5
Want chips and fruit? $4
etc.

If it can't be done online, it should be done at a kiosk at the airport. No $$$ should be exchanged on board.
17 year airliners.net vet! 2000-2016
 
ckfred
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RE: Buy On Board Meals

Sat Jan 08, 2005 4:54 am

It's one thing to reserve a meal if you fly for business and book a few days in advance. But if you book several months in advance, you may not know if you want to eat on the plane.

I would suggest reserving your meal when you check in. Most people now check in at least 90 minutes before departure, so that would give plenty on time for catering to make up the correct number of meals for a serving cart and load it aboard.

It would also mean less hassle for the F/As who won't have to push the meals or spend a lot of time making change. A friend of mine who flies for AA told me that the F/As loved it when AA decided to stop charging earphone rental in coach, but are not happy with the new BOB program.

 
NWAFA
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RE: Buy On Board Meals

Sat Jan 08, 2005 4:58 am

CK,

As great as 90 minutes may sound, the final catering counts are done about 4 hours prior to departure.
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jetstar
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RE: Buy On Board Meals

Sat Jan 08, 2005 5:34 am

When checking in at the terminal, you should be able to purchase your desired meal, get a coupon and before boarding the plane pick it up at a central location near the departure gates.

This way the meals can service numerous flights and stay fresh until picked up and would not result in wasted food or shortages.
 
NWAFA
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RE: Buy On Board Meals

Sat Jan 08, 2005 5:36 am

That would be the perfect way Jetstar!!! I think every Flight Attendant would love that!
THANK YOU FOR FLYING NORTHWEST AIRLINES, WE TRULY APPRECIATE YOUR BUSINESS!
 
ei2ksea
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RE: Buy On Board Meals

Sat Jan 08, 2005 5:37 am

A few airlines have experiemented with 'al-fresco' offerings where customers (usually first or business) can choose their food at a gateside cart. Havent seen it lately, so the tests must not have lived up to expectations.
Next Flight: DUB-BOS (EI), BOS-DEN-PDX (SWA), SEA-BOS (AS)
 
N62NA
Topic Author
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RE: Buy On Board Meals

Sat Jan 08, 2005 8:50 am

Zrs70, you've got the perfect analogy there. In this day and age, should be no reason why you couldn't do something like "build your own" in-flight experience!

Jetstar, I have to disagree. I can't see much different between what you propose and just picking up food at the McDonalds or deli down at the gate and bringing that aboard. Though I agree with NWAFA, the every Flight Attendant would probably love that approach!
 
UALAX
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RE: Buy On Board Meals

Sat Jan 08, 2005 9:04 am

Reserving and selecting your meals would be great. It would also help those with dietary restrictions.

UALAX
 
Continental
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RE: Buy On Board Meals

Sat Jan 08, 2005 9:35 am

"and if you don't use em, you can save them for next time."

Or if you don't use them, it should be credited back to your credit card. Most ticket purchases are made with a credit card.
 
RIOJANEIRO
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RE: Buy On Board Meals

Sat Jan 08, 2005 10:24 am

I think a lot of you are forgetting that a significant chunk of people who purchase B.O.B. meals are ones who did not have time to purchase/pack a meal due to a situation that was out of their control, such as a tight connection. Therefore, there needs to be an extra supply on board for these people.

A large group of the market aren't really buying meals because they knew beforehand that they were going to buy B.O.B., they usually had a situation where it wasn't within there control (long security lines, tight connection, mechanical issues, etc). Therefore, in order for LSG SkyChefs (who is the main supplier for 'Inflight Cafe', used by US, HP, and others) to sell these meals, they use previous sales information from previous flights in a database and calculate how many to put on a given flight.

I've noticed in the year since its inception at my airline, things have improved , however there are still situations where a flight is delayed for whatever reason and we run out of meals early, because, as stated, it was a situation that was out of the customer's control.

The idea of pre-ordering meals upon check-in could also be problematic, since a lot of these meals are provided by SkyChefs, who are usually located off-site (or, at least not very near gates), and to provide a meal for someone who requested one, let's say 30 minutes prior to departure would bring added cost and responsibilty for the caterer that they are probably not willing to take on.
 
N62NA
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RE: Buy On Board Meals

Sat Jan 08, 2005 11:06 am


The idea of pre-ordering meals upon check-in could also be problematic, since a lot of these meals are provided by SkyChefs, who are usually located off-site (or, at least not very near gates), and to provide a meal for someone who requested one, let's say 30 minutes prior to departure would bring added cost and responsibilty for the caterer that they are probably not willing to take on.

I agree, which is exactly why you should be able to order your meal at the time you buy your ticket!
 
717-200
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RE: Buy On Board Meals

Sat Jan 08, 2005 11:11 am

"No $$$ should be exchanged onboard"

We already do that here at AirTran. Only credit or debit cards are
accepted on board for alcohol purchases in coach.
72S 733 734 735 73G 738 742 752 763 E190 M82 M83
 
NWAFA
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RE: Buy On Board Meals

Sat Jan 08, 2005 11:12 am

717-200,

No cash, WOW that would be so great! I have worked a 5day domestic where I ended up with $500 on me..hate having that kind of money on me!~
THANK YOU FOR FLYING NORTHWEST AIRLINES, WE TRULY APPRECIATE YOUR BUSINESS!
 
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VS4ever
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RE: Buy On Board Meals

Sat Jan 08, 2005 1:43 pm

I think we could come up with a multitude of solutions for this, each of which would work well.

1. I love the idea of buy at the time of purchasing your ticket. it's a value added service to the consumer, IF they want it! Particularly on-line. Helps with the whole order planning etc, definitely a help to the airlines.

2. In some airports, I know SFO used to be one, they would do the thing of buy your duty free (for international flights) and they deliver it to the gate and you pick it up as you board. Subway are you listening?????? This would also avoid the need to have a meal count 4 hours before the flight. So you could do something at the check-in (although 400 meals for a 747 might be a little tricky, if everyone gets there late!)

3. I agree there is a potential issue for connecting passengers, particularly those on last minute tickets and short connections. Perhaps a combination of the check-in/deli thing would work. You check-in for flight #1 and state that you need a meal on flight two (as long as the two airlines worked together), so the airline contacts airport 2 and the sandwich store gets to work. If you say the average connecting flight is an hour, plus time on the ground. Should be ok to get the meals to the new departure gate on time.

4. Of course there are always going to be the "Oh I forgot" or "I didn't know" people, it is then up to the airline to determine if indeed they should serve food on that particular flight. I think most people would be ok on a flight of 1 to 2 hours, anything more than that, then I am not so sure. Thoughts on this one would be interesting?

Just my $0.02

I did hear a while ago that Mcdonalds did a promo with an airline, but that it didn't work, I am just majorly suprised that none of the major chains have tried an experiment somewhere, just to see if it would work.

VS4ever.


Bring Back Orion Airways, you were the best!
 
ANCFlyer
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RE: Buy On Board Meals

Sat Jan 08, 2005 1:49 pm

All the more reason the BOB is bullshit.

Either pack them all or none at all . . . if the a/c packs 150 pax there should be 150 meals on board . . . don't want it don't buy it . . . better than being in seat 23Z and getting screwed by yet another airline cutting corners.

Jetstar has a great idea! Buy and grab, then board. . . but why not just grab Micky Ds or Burger King or other terminal restaurant offerings . . . why get airline food when you can get something for real . . . stop by one of those high speed places like Wolfgag Pucks at ORD and get something good!





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NWAFA
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RE: Buy On Board Meals

Sun Jan 09, 2005 1:54 am

ANC,

That may sound very easy to pack it all. There is a cost factor for the catering company. If the meals do not sell, they loose money by having to toss those meals out...
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jetstar
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RE: Buy On Board Meals

Sun Jan 09, 2005 6:14 am

While almost every airport has a Micky D’s or Burger King, almost all the food from these places, with the exception of their salads are loaded with fat and fried in oil. I myself stay away from these foods as much as possible, I would prefer to purchase food that is nutritionally balanced.

Because it would probably not be possible to place an order and wait for it to be made because the wait time would cause problems because of long lines, pre-made selections would be the way to go. This way if people want fast food hamburgers, they can have them and others can have food to their liking.

The airlines can make arrangements in numerous ways with the various airport food concessionaires to have pre-made selections available for pick up at the gate area after purchasing it at check in. This could even be a source of revenue for the airlines as they can collect a small commission on each purchase. This way if people want low fat, vegetarian or other special requests, they can get it. Also this would remove the possibility of not getting something you like because of not knowing what is available at the airport concessionaires. The items available at each airport could be listed on the airlines web site because of each airports different food concessionaires.

In most terminal concourses, several airlines share a concourse and if the airlines get together and offer this service they would all benefit.

For instance, in LAS the concourse that AA uses has a Burger King and a Port O Sub, which is like Subway for fast food selection. Sometimes the lines at the Port O Sub are long and can take a half hour for your order to be made. I would rather purchase a pre made sub at check in and be able to walk up to a counter just before boarding, present my coupon and get my order. Also this concourse is shared with other airlines and is always very busy the food turnover would be high and replenished often. And for those who want a hamburger and fries, they can get them just as fast.

Since I fly AA almost exclusively, some of them transcons, it looks like brown bagging will be my food service of choice from now on because I am not thrilled with what AA is offering for BOB. AA has said that they would not count a food bag as one of the 2 carry on items. I wonder if this would also apply to a lunch pail. Maybe I will get my Superman lunch pail out of storage and start using it again just to see the reaction I would get.


 
N62NA
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RE: Buy On Board Meals

Sun Jan 09, 2005 7:16 am


The airlines can make arrangements in numerous ways with the various airport food concessionaires to have pre-made selections available for pick up at the gate area after purchasing it at check in.

But this kind of limits the kinds of meals you would be able to get to basically cold food, right? Or, if it is hot food, you would pretty much have to eat it right away, else your hot food would get cold!

This is why I'm more for being able to pre-order your meal from the airline at the time you book the seat. That way, catering would load the meals as they always have, the meals would be heated up as they always have on the plane, and distributed to the appropriate pax during the normal meal service time during the flight.

Go ahead and charge an additional $10 for this. Since it's optional, it's my choice whether to have it added to my ticket price or not.
 
jetstar
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RE: Buy On Board Meals

Sun Jan 09, 2005 8:03 am

“But this kind of limits the kinds of meals you would be able to get to basically cold food, right? Or, if it is hot food, you would pretty much have to eat it right away, else your hot food would get cold! But this kind of limits the kinds of meals you would be able to get to basically cold food, right? Or, if it is hot food, you would pretty much have to eat it right away, else your hot food would get cold!”

If the logistics can be worked out and the quality of food is better than the slop they have been serving lately, I would go for it. But this would only apply to the longer flights like the transcons where hot food is normally served. On shorter or connecting flights, like on AA where you would take a bistro bag as you board, cold food is the only food choice. I would rather have a choice of better food than what was in the bistro bags, even if I had to pay for it. Considering what the air fares are today, I would gladly pay 10 dollars to get a quality hot meal on board.

Some airplanes do not have ovens in them or the ovens were taken out after hot food was eliminated on the shorter runs. I remember flying EA and DL from LGA to FLL in the 1980’s on 727’s and getting a hot meal on a 2 hour flight. Those days are long gone, along with the ovens on the planes that fly these runs today, all you get now in a bag of stale pretzels.

I am a member of AA’s Admiral Club and now for the past year they have been selling deli sandwich’s in the club, they come in a plastic to go package with condiments. There is a good choice and they are delicious and around 7 dollars. On my last flight from LGA to LAS connecting in DFW, I bought a sandwich just before I left the club to board my flight and ate in on board when they served refreshments. If they can do it at the club, they can do it at check in time and picked up near the gate.
 
N62NA
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RE: Buy On Board Meals

Sun Jan 09, 2005 8:34 am

I fly AA almost exclusively and strangely enough, even though I've seen those bistro carts (or cAArts!), I've never been on a flight where they've been handing out food from them.

What runs do they hand out bistro food on?

I can attest that they do not do it on any of the following routes out of MIA:

LAX (hot meal still!)
EWR/LGA/JFK
ORD
MSY
SJU
CLE (well, it's an RJ, so don't expect anything I guess)
DFW
 
delta-flyer
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RE: Buy On Board Meals

Sun Jan 09, 2005 8:50 am

I've had this idea for a long time - I'm surprised no one has started it yet ....

Have an airport concession (or more than one) travel from gate to gate with carts, just prior to a flight boarding, with a selection of packaged meals for sale. Either credit card or a round number of dollars cash - say $10 - no fooling with change. A few carts can serve a large number of gates. After the flight boards, the cart moves to another gate.

Then the airlines can completely get out of the catering business.

Pete
"In God we trust, everyone else bring data"
 
N62NA
Topic Author
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RE: Buy On Board Meals

Sun Jan 09, 2005 8:56 am

But would the food be hot, Pete?

I too remember those days, just like Jetstar stated above, where you would get a hot meal on any flight during meal times greater than 1 1/2 hours flying time (NYC-ORD, NYC-MIA/FLL, etc).

If the legacy carriers are going to try and differentiate themselves from the peanuts LCC carriers, one of the best ways is with meal service.

So far, reply #9 seems to be the best proposal IMHO.
 
jetstar
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RE: Buy On Board Meals

Sun Jan 09, 2005 10:13 am

N62NA

"I fly AA almost exclusively and strangely enough, even though I've seen those bistro carts (or cAArts!), I've never been on a flight where they've been handing out food from them."

I have got Bistro bags on LGA-DFW flights.

From what I understand if the flight was over 3 hours during a meal time they had these bags in a cart in the jetway. But take my word for it, you didn't miss anything. They were usually one slice of some Perdue mystery meat, I think it was supposed to be turkey bologna, because that what was marked on the sandwich wrapping and a slice of swiss cheese on a dinner roll with a bag of soggy carrots and a bag of potato chips and a stale cookie. The only thing that was really edible was the potato chips because they were Lays.

The breakfast Bistro bag was much better, at least it was a fresh bagel (most of the times) and cream cheese.
 
Orion737
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RE: Buy On Board Meals

Sun Jan 09, 2005 10:27 am

I feel sorry for you lot, our national carrier BA is still serving hot breakfats on flight of little over a hours duration and its a real treat after getting up early to travel to the airport to know that you will be served a delicious English breakfast, saves time at the airport and I always look forward to it

Long may it continue at BA

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