Any Way You Slice It, It is Still a Lime — Unless They are Eliminated Altogether

Photograph ©istockphoto.com by m_speel.

“I was amazed to find that the international Lime shortage has hit United where it hurts”, puckered FlyerTalk member mkasperzak, who put United Airlines in the limelight on FlyerTalk for the possible elimination of serving limes with drinks during flights. “No more limes on United, at least for the time being as they have doubled in price! I think the flight attendants are pretty embarrassed to admit that they don’t have limes. Who ever heard of a Gin & Tonic or Bloody Mary with lemons? Maybe we will see a lime surcharge in the near future.”

Sadly, this apparently is no pulp fiction. Perhaps mkasperzak is green with envy of those passengers who can still enjoy a lime in zest with their beverages aboard airplanes operated by competing airlines?

Back on May 18, 2011, I posted here at The Gate about how Delta Air Lines used to cut the limes served with drinks on its flights into ten slices; but Northwest Airlines used to cut its limes into 16 slices. Despite a potential savings of up to $500,000.00 per year, Delta Air Lines opted to keep cutting its limes into ten slices — but because it apparently loaded more limes onto its flights than needed, Delta Air Lines carried fewer limes on its flights.

For some reason, that short article was rather popular in terms of readership. I never did understand that.

I do wonder, however, what the potential savings of squeezing out limes aboard aircraft on flights would be today to an airline such as United Airlines. “Some sources are quoting $0.53/lime versus $0.21/lime a year ago”, grimaced FlyerTalk member Billiken. “Probably will start bringing some of my own.”

That is one form of lime aid, I must admit.

Perhaps the scurvy executives in the Lime Allocation Department over at United Airlines ought to take a cue from Delta Air Lines — or better yet, from Northwest Airlines. Carry fewer limes than necessary; and cut those limes into more slices…

…but it appears that United Airlines may be…er…“sublime” altogether — and that leaves a sour taste in the mouths of some FlyerTalk members who believe that such a decision is not a-peel-ing.

However, this sort of slicing costs is nothing new to airlines. Remember the famous story of when Robert Crandall — once the chief executive officer of American Airlines — had the idea in 1987 to remove an olive from each salad served to passengers, resulting in a savings amounted to at least $40,000 a year?

Well, 1987 was eleven years before the current iteration of FlyerTalk was born. Airlines are less successful with stealth cost-cutting moves such as the disappearance of one olive when there are FlyerTalk members “in the wild” reporting on such minutiae. In fact — back in 2001 — FlyerTalk member AA SLF wondered if American Airlines was once again tossing olives from the salads served during flights simply to save on some “lettuce”…

…and in 2014, the shortage of limes has certainly been noticed by FlyerTalk members — some of whom believe that the reduction or elimination of limes is a lemon of an idea.

I do enjoy having a slice of lime with my juice or carbonated soft drink while aboard a commercial airplane as a passenger — but I will survive if one is not available. I will have to see if any limes are available on my next scheduled flight.

Orange you sad to learn of the news about a possible lime shortage? How will this news a-lime with your travel g-rind? Will it be a real pain in the acid?!?

Comments (Showing 6 of 6)

  • Flyer1M at 8:15pm April 03, 2014

    Sad to see how far United and especially Continental has fallen.

  • GRALISTAIR at 7:10am April 04, 2014

    Who ever heard of a Gin & Tonic or Bloody Mary with lemons? ME

    For 30 years in the UK and travelling I always had a slice of lemon with a G+T – it was only when I came to the USA that I was offered the lime option. In my apartment last night I bought a lemon from the grocery store to have with my Gin.

    No wise cracks please about me being an LB – Limey Bast–d

    • Brian Cohen at 8:09am April 04, 2014

      As I do not imbibe in alcoholic beverages, GRALISTAIR, I am in no position to make wise cracks — nor would I do so about your nationality.
      I am in a position, however, to smile after reading that. Thank you, GRALISTAIR.

  • UAConvert at 9:24am April 04, 2014

    I did a mileage run this weekend IAH-IAD-BOS-SFO-LAX-SFO-IAH and there were no limes to be had in F or Y. The FAs were noticeably embarrassed and offered no explanation, as many people asked.

  • SSteegar at 6:14am April 07, 2014

    For the record, it was not Crandall who had the idea to remove the olive. It was a flight attendant – who noticed that passengers rarely ever ate it. At the time AA had an incentive program where employees could report money saving ideas and get a slice of the savings as incentive. So that story is particularly well known amongst flight crews. I can’t remember how much the original flight attendant got but it was worth her while, for sure.

    If I’m not mistaken they still have this program except – surprise! – one doesn’t get any return on successful ideas. Which seems a shame as I’d imagine the good ideas submitted have gone waaaaay down.

    • Brian Cohen at 9:19am April 07, 2014

      Thank you for the clarification, SSteegar. My multiple sources for crediting Crandall include The New York Times and NBC News.

      It appears that they need to be corrected — and I am not being sarcastic, as I believe you.

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