/ Money, Travel & Leisure

Sky high in-flight food prices – how much is too much?

Plane sweets

Pringles – I do like them. But if you asked me to pay 9p for each individual potato and wheat-based crisp, I’d say you were having a laugh. Yet that’s how much you’ll pay if you buy a pack onboard an Easyjet flight.

On an Easyjet flight, Pringles go for £1.80 a 40g tub. The last pack of that size I ate had 20 crisps inside, so I make that 9p each. If you were to buy your snack from Asda Direct before you set off on holiday, the same size tub would cost you 50p, less than a third of the Easyjet’s price.

Easyjet’s not alone in charging these prices, as the tubs go for much the same price on Ryanair, and £1.50 on Monarch, Thomas Cook and Thomson.

The price of drinks and snacks 

No one expects a bargain when you buy snacks or drinks on a plane, as everyone accepts there are a lot of overheads involved and knows the airline is going to capitalise on having a captive audience.

But can they really justify this sort of differential from supermarket prices? When Which? checked airline prices against comparable products in online supermarkets in January, we also found 40g packs of Kettle Chips at £1.50 on Monarch compared to 62p at Ocado, and 50g packs of Mini Cheddars at €2 (or around £1.60) on Ryanair compared to 69p at Ocado.

You can’t take bottles of water through airport security, but we compared prices there as well, just to see the difference. A 500ml water bottle of water can cost as little as 39p at Ocado, but you’ll pay €3 or around £2.50 on a Ryanair flight.

I’m a sucker for convenience, and in the past I have happily handed over my cash for onboard snacks on no-frills flights. But now I’ll be stocking up beforehand and squirreling them away into my hand luggage.

How do you feel about airline food prices onboard flights? Are they justified in the mark-up they impose, or do you feel fleeced if you stump up for a snack? And what’s the most expensive snack price you’ve seen in the air?

Comments
Member

I always try to travel with the regular carriers (BA, KLM, Air France, Lufthansa), because you always get complimentary food and alcoholic drinks and, usually it is very stress free when it comes to seating and luggage etc and they can on many occasions be cheaper than the no frills airlines.

When I travel to the USA, I am very particular who I fly with, I now always use European carriers. Because the American carriers always charge for alcoholic beverages (on economy) and you will be stung for very small charges on your credit card! The currency conversion and the bank charges can be as much as the drinks! The general service you get on the American carriers is far below the European carriers.

Member

Some good tips there Woodgreener but I’m not sure that complimentary things are free of charge. In my experience it’s usually in the price. I certainly agree that, with the major airlines [and we think BA is much better than Air France], the entire journey experience from booking through to the destination is much less fraught than with the budget carriers. I don’t normally want anything to eat or drink on a flight upto four hours long. I think the whole business of dishing out food drink and duty frees on aircraft is [a] to keep the cabin crew occupied because they have to be there for safety reasons, and [b] to gross up the profits for the airlines who will sell a seat at any price nearer the departure date rather than fly with an empty one, especially if they think they can make their money back on the Pringles.

Member

Did I really type “their” for “there” in Line 7 above? Shame on me!

Member

You did, but I’ve fixed it for you. Me, I’m happy to take on my own food. Wouldn’t dream of buying it off the plane. Similar to that on trains as well.

Member

Well, I think it is time to be independent and turn up with a Thermos flask in one pocket and a sandwich in the other. I have checked British Airways’ list of banned and restricted items and it looks as if there will be no problem with taking the Thermos flask.

It is interesting that firearms are restricted rather than banned items on flights. I would only want one if there is a danger that the cabin staff might offer me Pringles.

Member
Mike S says:
21 January 2013

Wavechange,

I think you’ll find that a Thermos flask is fine – as long as it doesn’t contain any liquid when you go through security (you’re not allowed any liquids in containers bigger than 100ml). Kinda defeats the purpose.

Not sure that a 100ml Thermos exists either.

But, yes, buy before you fly!

Member

Thanks Mike. I knew about that but had forgotten.

I believe that it is law that restaurants must provide free tap water as an alternative to the usual expensive bottled water. I wonder if this applies to flights.

Member
chay mottley says:
21 January 2013

Wavechange,

I have never paid for water on any flight. Whenever i have asked they simply provide free cups of water. So i would presume it does come under similar laws to restaurants.

Member

Thanks. I have not been on a plane for at least five years, and drinks have been included on every flight I have been on.

Member

It’s easy really. Either don’t go on cheap airlines, or if you must go on cheap airlines don’t buy anything. Most budget flights aren’t more than a couple of hours, and everyone can last that long without refreshment. You only buy it because you’re bored, and a suppose you enjoy the additional bonus of something to complain about, which makes the time pass even faster.

Member

I rarely if ever buy refreshments on board a ‘no frills’ flight. Once I am through security, I buy a litre bottle of water and a sandwich to take on board the aircraft. I have to ensure that it fits in my hand luggage from the boarding gate to the plane but once on board I can remove it from my bag. Sometimes, it is consumed by the time I board and if so, I have no need for any other refreshment on a < 2hour flight.

There is no point in travelling with 'no frills' airlines to save money if you are then spending the money you save on extortionately priced refreshments and trinkets.