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

Nov 17, 2020

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

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.

For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

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.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 60,000 Points

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,200

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide, eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Earn 2x total points on up to $1,000 in grocery store purchases per month from November 1, 2020 to April 30, 2021. Includes eligible pick-up and delivery services.
Regular APR
15.99%-22.99% Variable
Annual Fee
$95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.