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In-flight meal upgrades: Passenger privilege or another ancillary fee?

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Skift Take

It’s possible that meal upgrades are the one ancillary fee that both passengers and airlines can agree on with passengers willing to pick up the tab for better quality meals that airlines can’t afford to offer for free.

— Samantha Shankman

It is a commonly held view that “complimentary” inflight meals rarely impress. Virtually every passenger has something to say about airplane food and the bad seems to outweigh the good.

It would seem an obvious solution for this airline to offer a better quality meal in the form of a pre-ordered ‘a la carte’ menu option. Indeed, many carriers are now offering economy class passengers the option to pre-order or upgrade their inflight meals at the time of booking and up to 24 hours before the flight….for a price.

Whilst this passenger-pleasing option is good for customers, it’s ultimately “all about ancillaries”, says David Loft, president of the International Flight Services Association (IFSA). “The benefits of preordering are that passengers can order something of higher quality, they’re paying for it and getting something decent. To the airline, it saves wastage because they’re not loading a plane full of food that’s not going to get eaten.”

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