Avoid the airplane food rip-off

7 April 2010

Snacks served onboard budget airlines have been branded a rip-off after new research found an average mark-up of 350% compared to supermarket prices.

Ryanair has been named the worst airline for onboard snack prices in travelsupermarket.com’s Airline Snacks Barometer.
“Airlines can get away with charging extortionate prices because once you’re onboard there’s nowhere else to go,” says Bob Atkinson, travel expert from travelsupermarket.com.

A family of four buying sandwiches, drinks and chocolate bars face spending nearly £50 if they buy while onboard.

Ryanair charges £4.49 for sandwiches, compared to an average price of £2 at the supermarket. Easyjet, bmi baby and Monarch meanwhile, charge £3.50 for sandwiches.

Atkinson says the average mark up on cold food is 380%. However, hot drinks drive the price difference with the average mark up a shocking 7,664%.

A cup of PG tips costs £2.63 on Ryanair, or £2 on easyjet, bmi baby and Monarch. Coffee, meanwhile, costs £2.63 on Ryanair flights, £2.30 on easyjet and £2 with bmi baby and Monarch.

Avoid the rip-off

Atkinson says: “Small savings can really add up, so holidaymakers who want a few extra pounds to spend while away need to get more savvy about eating and drinking onboard.

He urges holidaymakers to bring their own food, which can be taken through security. A quick trip to the supermarket the night before your flight not only gives you more choice, but could also boost your holiday spending money.

And although the ban of liquids means you’ll have to wait until the airport to buy water, fruit juice or fizzy drinks, shopping for these in the departure lounge could still be cost effective. 

A 50cl bottle of still water costs would set you back £2.63 on Ryanair, £1.80 on bmi baby, £1.60 on Monarch and £1.50 on easyjet. In comparison, you could pick up a 1litre bottle of still water in the airport for 95p.

If you want hot drinks on board, you could take your own tea bags or coffee and just ask for hot water - although Atkinson says there is no guarantee the airline staff will serve you this.

In terms of alcohol, the average mark-up is 403%. However, as passengers are not allowed to consume their own alcohol onboard, this is one price hit you’ll have to take if you want a drink.

You could also avoid onboard food prices by flying with a scheduled carrier.
Atkinson says: “British Airways offers a hot breakfast snack and drink on board all flights before 10am, and drinks and a snack after that on short haul. Long-haul flights always have a full meal and snack service as well as free drinks.”

Other short-haul carriers such as Lufthansa, Air France, KLM and Swiss offer passengers a basic snack or small meal, but Atkinson says carriers such as Iberia now charge for catering on short-haul flights.


Prices correct at time of writing.

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