Once a Beacon for Premium, Etihad Now Charging for Select Snacks and Drinks in Economy
Etihad Airways — known for over-the-top first/business class products as well as an above-average main cabin experience — continues to cut back on services offered to passengers. According to posts on frequent flyer forum, The Australian Frequent Flyer, Etihad has rolled out the airline's buy-on-board menu on all flights. The airline first announced its intentions to introduce a buy-on-board menu back in April.
The airline's buy-on-board menu, "Sweet or Salty," is available via the airline's official website. Onboard options include simple pleasures like stroopwaffles, children's snacks including fruit puree packs, and heavier meals like lasagna.
Etihad Airways will also begin charging for select beverages including Starbuck's coffee and Perrier sparkling water.
Though it is not unusual for an airline to charge passengers for mid-flight snacks and drinks, Etihad had become well-known for its premium onboard experience including free snacks in between meal services. In addition to charging for mid-flight snacks, Etihad is set to remove inflight entertainment from its narrowbody aircraft and recently introduced new meals to mixed responses.
Recent passenger reviews on Skytrax, a website offering professional and amateur reviews of the world's airlines, indicate issues with inflight catering, service, and amenities. A passenger review from earlier this month called inflight catering "disgusting" and claimed that the airline is actively cutting back on free food and beverages to get passengers to buy additional rations. The review also noted Etihad's practice of charging high prices for advanced seat assignments.
For the time being, Etihad Airways' First and Business Class products remain a solid use of points and miles despite recent service cuts. However, with the airline having implemented economy class service cuts, main cabin redemptions might not be the best use of points and miles.