Going well back in time to the 1960’s and 1970’s air travel was almost all first class. According to my mother, people actually dressed up to get on the plane and were provided with menus from which to choose their fare and said meals were served with real silverware (not plastic). By the time I started flying, coach class (or cattle car as I commonly refer to it) had been introduced, though on my first international flight, wine was still free. Fast forward to the 21st century, and on many airlines, you can’t even get a glass of water without being charged, and free meals have all but disappeared except for international flights.
Does that cup of coffee, juice, or soda and that tiny bag of nuts or pretzels really cost that much? It seriously can’t be more than $1-2 per person, unless they bring the cart around more than once.
Now that meals and snacks are buy-on-board, it would be interesting to know how much food they throw out because no one bought it. Based on some of the prices, especially on snack items, they are probably covering some of the spoiled regular food costs.
Even when snacks and beverages were provided, people were not prohibited from bringing their own food and drink on board, though it was somewhat rare unless you had special needs. Now, however, people are almost encouraged to bring their own provisions which create several new issues, not the least of which is trash. The money that used to be spent providing those tiny bags of nuts or pretzels likely goes towards trash disposal. The other byproduct is the cacophony of smells from all the different foods being brought on the plane. If you have a sensitive stomach, are recovering from a hangover, or generally have sensitivity to certain smells, this can be particularly unpleasant. As air is recycled through the plane, the smells can linger for quite some time.
On the positive side, I suppose this trend has generated higher demand and possibly profit for airport based restaurants – especially since you can’t bring any liquid beverages through security. Which brings to mind the price of food and beverage items in the airport. There are some airports, such as Portland, Oregon, where they businesses inside the airport cannot charge more for their items than they would charge at an off-airport location. Others seem to have no such restrictions and the same bottle of water that you could buy at a convenience store (or off-airport equivalent of the same establishment) for a dollar will likely run you somewhere north of $3.00. This is particularly annoying given the restriction on bringing such a basic item through security.
Would people really notice a $5 fare increase to cover the costs of a small beverage and a tiny bag of snacks? They would certainly appreciate the return of such a basic service.