Swiss Introduces (Expensive) Optional Buy On Board Meals

Swiss has recently added a buy on board a la carte dining option for passengers traveling in economy on longhaul flights. Passengers on eligible flights now have the option of pre-ordering their choice of six types of premium meals and two types of premium wines.

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The a la carte options have to be ordered at least 24 hours in advance, and are available on all longhaul flights, except to Cairo, Shanghai, and Tel Aviv. These meals replace what you’d be served with the first meal service after takeoff. Any service after that would be the same that you’d usually receive in economy.

I’m a big fan of this concept, as Swiss is basically letting passengers improve their experience without taking anything away from passengers who choose not to use this service (at least for now). While Swiss isn’t the first airline to introduce such a concept, I’m surprised more airlines don’t offer something like this.

However, the prices of Swiss’ new buy on board meals are kind of high.

For example, you can buy a “healthy choice” meal with a grilled salmon main for 29CHF (~29USD).

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For 39CHF (~39USD) you can buy a “Swiss traditional meal.”

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Or for 49CHF (~49USD) you can buy a “gourmet meal,” consisting of a beef fillet.

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There’s also the option of a half bottle of premium red or white wine, each of which retails for 18CHF (~18USD).

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Overall the food and wine looks similar to what you’d expect in business class, so kudos to Swiss for introducing something like this in economy. However, to me the pricing seems a bit steep. I understand the logistics of this probably make the a la carte option somewhat expensive to cater, but I’m sure they’d have more people take advantage of this offer if the prices were more reasonable.

Keep in mind that the above meals replace the complimentary ones, so really the airline is generating the above in incremental revenue, plus saving the cost of whatever the normal economy meal would cost.

What do you make of Swiss’ optional a la carte prices? Would you like to see more airlines adopt a similar offering?

(Tip of the hat to LoyaltyLobby)

Comments

  1. United tried this out of fra before the merger. I had a good filet that they didn’t even end up charging me for. I think was between 24-29 dollars for The meal.

  2. Food looks nice, though for that money I’d eat the normal meal and bring some extra food on board instead. I suspect you’re still given plastic cutlery to eat it with too??

  3. The wine isn’t special. Sells for $11 for a bottle in supermarkets in San Diego. They need to up their game in the wine offerings. The second menu selection with the Traditional Swiss items looks pretty good. I would do it for sure.

  4. Eh, this probably means that it’ll take even longer to get served your regular meal in longhaul economy. Aer Lingus does this and it added at least 30 minutes of waiting for those of us who were fine with the regular.

  5. Seriously? It’s still airline food. For half the price you can carry on a better quality sandwich or salad. And I agree with Donna on the wine. Still, it’s nice that they’re trying.

  6. Does anybody know why they are not catering to CAI, TLV or PVG? Can’t be a 777 exclusive because LX196 to PEK is still a A333 flight. That and technically LX 236 and LX 254 are A320 flights are not long-haul since they are A320 flights on par with Zurich – Moscow. But LX188 would be a perfect flight for that service, that sucks.

  7. Gary hit the nail on the head. That’s not expensive for a restaurant meal in Switzerland. 40 CHF for a pizza or curry dinner is not at all unusual in Switzerland.

  8. BA have been offering this for a while albeit at cheaper prices.

    One thing to remember, especially if you have status, is that preordering a meal like this (or a special meal) pretty much means you will have zero chance of receiving an upgrade on boarding.

  9. Insane prising. The fact that it’s “Swiss made” doesn’t justify. The prices in CH are not that expensive and for 40 franks you can have a really nice dinner in a mid range restaurant in Zurich or Geneva (starter + main). In Lugano it’s even cheaper.

    Just compare the prices with Air France a la cart options, where you can have one of those meals (full tray: main, starter, dessert) for 12-20 EUR. I personally never had a chance to try one of those however I’ve heard very positive response from 3 different persons about those options.

  10. The more societies get diverse the more they become ok with gentrification. This is an example of that within a single class of service (earlier it was across different classes of service.)

  11. Agree with Gary, very normal pricing for Zurich. Even in a fitness center (high end though) I paid CHF 15 or 20 for lunch!!! Sounds stupid but I was really hungry (low blood sugar) and the food court downstairs (Jelmoli, right in the city center) charges CHF25 on average (yes, for food court). So from a Zurich point of view this is a very reasonable price. If the quality is good, why not?

  12. Keep in mind, these have starter and dessert included which would usually cost CH5-6 each. So CH 29 for a healthy three course meal is something I would consider (if I am not in business class 😉

  13. An airline hockey pu-I mean, steak for $49? Hahahahahahaha. Oh, that’s a good one. I can get a decent steak for $20 at sea level that has a MUCH better chance of coming out anything other than well done.

  14. @GringoLoco:

    Because not everyone is a zillionaire.
    Because not everyone has an 800 credit score and the patience and inclination to manage minimum spends on credit cards through spreadsheets.
    Because not everyone needs the lie-flat seat.
    Because not everyone needs to spend their lives humblebragging about how they spent $5 and 100,000 miles for this suite full of bling and a bunch of Krug and caviar while posting blow by blows on Twitter.
    Because not everyone thinks that suites and executive lounges in American chain hotels in other countries are the acme of the travel experience.

    Any other questions?

  15. I do like the look of that Swiss Traditional meal, but I agree with others that at those prices I’d probably just stick with the regular meal.

  16. Kind of sucks for the guy sat right next to you in economy stuck with his “chicken or pasta” choice.

  17. KLM do (or did) a ‘meal enhancement’ on AMS – DXB which I tried and it certainly made a few hours in economy more bearable. I think this was one of the business class plates they sold down to economy. Unfortunately I’ve not see this offered lately on other KLM flights, but if you see it it’s good value.

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