Another big airline will begin charging for food and drinks on many flights

Nov 17, 2020

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The Lufthansa Group is saying auf Wiedersehen to free food and drinks in short and medium-haul economy flights.

Starting in spring 2021, Lufthansa, Swiss, and Austrian Airlines will begin charging for snacks and drinks aboard short-haul flights. There will be no changes to business class and long-haul economy flights.

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Changes to Lufthansa, SWISS, and Austrian catering

Currently, Lufthansa, Swiss, and Austrian offer free snacks, sandwiches or hot meals on most flights, as well as free drinks, including alcohol. Although simplified, unlike most airlines in the U.S., these airlines have even continued to offer some form of service on most short- and medium-haul flights during the pandemic. However, come spring 2021, these will be replaced by a buy-on-board menu.

Lufthansa and Swiss will give passengers a complimentary bottle of water, but not Austrian. Swiss has also confirmed that it will continue its tradition of handing out its signature “Thank you for flying Swiss” chocolates to all passengers. Likewise, Austrian will give passengers a sweet “Signature Treat” on flights lasting up to 180 minutes.

The new offering will be introduced in phases, with Austrian to eliminate free food and drinks first, followed by Swiss and Lufthansa. The airline group claims that the buy-on board items will use “high-quality standards” and have a regional touch. Additionally, there will be a greater focus on sustainability through the use of environmentally friendly products and packaging.

Related: Here’s what food and drinks you can expect on your next flight

Short-haul business class flights are unaffected. (Photo by Christian Kramer/The Points Guy)

Why are these changes happening?

The timing of these changes may seem a bit strange given that demand for travel is still down and that this would be increasing contact between passengers and crew members.

However, this is likely something that the airline group was planning to do for a while now. British Airways has been offering buy-on-board catering in short-haul economy for several years now and the concept has been successful with Lufthansa’s low-cost subsidiaries Eurowings and Brussels Airlines. Additionally, Swiss has been testing buy-on-board options on short-haul flights out of Geneva since 2018.

According to executive board member Christina Foerster, “Our current snack offer in economy class does not always meet the expectations of our guests.” “The new offer was developed on the basis of feedback from our customers,” Foerster explains.

Related: Lufthansa’s new short-haul economy seats offer increased recline and USB power ports

Bottom line

Lufthansa, SWISS, and Austrian, will be eliminating free food and drinks on short and medium-haul economy flights next year. Although this change was inevitable with the rise of competition from low-cost carriers, it’s disappointing nonetheless. It wouldn’t be surprising if other full-service airlines like Air France and KLM implement a similar approach in the future.

Featured courtesy of Lufthansa Group.

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