Lufthansa Is Introducing (Optional) Buy On Board Meals In Economy

In 2016, Swiss introduced buy on board food in economy on longhaul flights. This didn’t come at the expense of their complimentary meals, but rather they recognized that some people are willing to pay extra for a better meal in economy, rather than being served something that looks like a Lean Cuisine dish that just came out of the microwave. The dishes were shockingly expensive, though, and ranged from 29-49CHF (~31-52USD — ouch!).

Swiss is part of the Lufthansa Group, so it’s not unusual for them to try an initiative on one of their airlines, and then later expand it. This concept is now being expanded to Lufthansa flights.

Starting in the summer of 2018, Lufthansa economy and premium economy passengers traveling on longhaul flights will be able to purchase one of seven “a la carte” dishes.

The menu will include options like grilled steak, a bento box with a selection of sushi, hearty Bavarian snacks, an Asian dish with quinoa, Mediterranean pasta with a choice of shrimp or Thai curry, and more. The dishes will also be served on porcelain, so they should look more like business class meals than economy meals.

These multi-course menus will be offered on almost all Lufthansa intercontinental flights from Frankfurt and Munich, and they will replace the regular first meal for passengers who choose this option. The dishes will cost 19-33EUR (23-43USD), so they’ll be pricey. The menus should be available starting in May 2018, and must be ordered at least 24 hours before departure.

Lufthansa isn’t taking anything away here, as customers will continue to receive the same complimentary meals as before, if they so choose. Of course many service cuts start this way (“due to customer feedback and the popularity of our paid meal service, we have decided to eliminate complimentary meals”).

Here are some pictures of the dishes that Lufthansa will be serving:

It sure looks to me like these are basically business class meals served in economy, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re even heated up in the business class galley and then brought back.

With airlines increasingly trying to maximize revenue from each passenger and customize the experience as much as possible, this is a logical enough development. At the same time I’m a bit surprised to see that this has worked out, given the price point. I would imagine very few people would be willing to pay this much for a better meal in economy. Then again, I guess Lufthansa’s downside here is limited.

If flying Lufthansa economy or premium economy, would you consider buying one of these meals?

Comments

  1. Despite flying 90% of my time in First and Business, I am wondering if they will start charging for food as well in business in the near future

  2. The Austrian do&Co a la carte service available on short and longhaul flights costs 15e and being a fan of Do&Co I love the service and treat myself sometimes 🙂

  3. I think it’s the future. Airlines have got to move out of this boarding school mentality and have to allow passengers to customise their experience. If someone enjoys eating on flights they can get a hearty meal. The traditional segmentation is over and ultimately the new game will be to deliver an experience to passengers that is aligned with their value perception.

  4. So long as the lack of meals is advertised in advance, I’m actually ok if they want to cut complementary meals entirely and just have buy-on-board options that are actually edible. I can absolute imagine red-eyes east-coast to europe where I’m totally happy without food, and appreciate a WOW-like unbundling. The key, of course, is that it has to be worth $24 or I’ll bring my own.

  5. I can honestly say I’d consider doing this. I mean, if I can get a round trip economy flight for $600 vs. paying $2-3000 for business, and then enjoy a better meal for $35 on the flight, I think I might choose the better meal.

    Then again, I didn’t mind LH’s normal economy meals–nothing special of course–but they were fine.

  6. I have done this on Air France and KLM and both were better then the regular meals. It also comes with the added advantages of being served first and I know exactly what I’m getting so there’s no wondering what meals will be served and if I’ll get my first choice, which I find considerably important given I that I’m sort of fussy about food and I know what I like and what I don’t like. To summarise the control freak in me loves this option.

    It also makes for some fun entrainment as others look on in wonder as to why there regular meals aren’t the same. On Air France you should have seen the look on the womens face next to me when she realised her cutlery was plastic.

  7. Air Canada does a version of this and I have taken advantage of it in the past. Basically, they offer whatever meals are not taken up by business class passengers as buy on board in economy. This way, they can make sure they have enough of each selection for business passengers while also making a profit on the leftover meals. Compared to the prices for these other airlines, heckuva deal, at $13.50 Canadian. Last time I got the lamb from business class.

  8. I normally fly Business but if I was booked in Economy I’d buy one of these meals in a heartbeat.

    When traveling in Business I’d gladly pay extra for a first class meal provided it was truly first class like Lufthansa, Etihad, Emirates, etc. I love me some caviar!

  9. If I’m traveling for work (and not senior enough to get a seat up front paid for), I’d gladly put a nicer meal on my expense report.

  10. The Austrian meal offer is great value on short haul routes. On a lunchtime intra Europe flight, faced with the choice of buying an overpriced airport sandwich for 7 Euro or by paying a little more and getting a delicious three course hot meal on board with piping hot bread rolls to match, the DO&Co option wins every time.

  11. The price seems reasonable actually. As other have stated, the diffrence with a business ticket can be 2-6k so 30-40$ seems like nothing. If you could buy better booze, that would be cool too. I haven’t flow long haul economy in years (2002 I think) but I remember the meals being very good, nothing to complain about anyways with LX and LH.

  12. Great idea
    If heaven forbid I had to sit in economy.
    Any word lucky on when lufthansa will introduce “buy a sliding door ” in economy.

  13. Looks pretty good. I recently flew SWISS business transatlantic and the JFK loaded Kosher Meal was just awful. It was below the quality of anything that used to be served in economy. While Kosher Business meals usually include wine Swiss cheaped out on that as well.
    I can clearly imagine some comments asking why the airline should pay extra for Kosher; they must have paid very little for this. True kosher eaters do not consume the caviar and champagne that might be offered, same for cheeses etc.

  14. I fly Swiss from LAX to ZRH several times a year Eco ( emergency exit only) and Business but I do not eat on the plane.
    On arrival I feel much better and can enjoy the real Swiss food.

  15. If I had saved a lot on a deal ticket in economy , then OK, buy an expensive meal , but if not then at USD31- for the cheapest , I would not buy these. Would rather take a nice sandwich from the airport or food from home.

  16. I would definitely order these! The food in Lufthansa premium economy and economy is abysmal. It’s so bad that I would rather not eat anything than eat the stuff they serve.

    I’ve had one of these paid meals on Swiss once, and I have to say it was exceptional. I was the only passenger who had ordered one though, so got quite a few (envious) looks from other passengers…

  17. I could actually see that working for me given that i am usually flying long haul for leisure. As the flight is coming closer i usually get more generous and tend to book little extra treats. So far it always worked for me if there was a nice offer of alcoholic beverages for purchase like with Air Berlin. But that was a spontaneous thing i’ve purchased on boardWe will see if they can get me with that since i have to book it at least 24 h in advance.

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