Special meals - when did they disappear?

Old Sep 14, 05, 3:24 pm
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Special meals - when did they disappear?

I used to be able to order a special meal on AS coast to coast flights till end of 2004. I haven't travelled coast for this year till this week. I called AS for my IAD-SEA flight and requested a veg meal and I was told that they didn't do special meals anymore and the agent didn't know when they stopped doing it. Any idea when this happened?

I understand that airlines are trying to cut costs, but I am not sure I understand how going against the special meals is going to cut significant costs. I am little peeved because everybody else gets to eat and I don't.

Am I expecting too much here? I love AS and their people and living in SEA I don't have much of a choice in airlines and what little choice I have I don't like.

Will writing to AS help? your thoughts?
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Old Sep 14, 05, 3:52 pm
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I wrote AS about this earlier this year and they responded by essentially telling me to bring my own food. You can try writing, but don't hold your breath for any improvement.

Unfortunately the food they offer tends to be unhealthy (at least according to my definition) so you and I are both stuck on long flights. My personal preference would be for them to stop offering free booze in F and using the money to give us better food options, but that isn't going to happen.

The airlines are looking for more things to take away, so I assume it will not get better any time soon.
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Old Sep 14, 05, 5:36 pm
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Originally Posted by magiclamp
I used to be able to order a special meal on AS coast to coast flights till end of 2004. I haven't travelled coast for this year till this week. I called AS for my IAD-SEA flight and requested a veg meal and I was told that they didn't do special meals anymore and the agent didn't know when they stopped doing it. Any idea when this happened?

I understand that airlines are trying to cut costs, but I am not sure I understand how going against the special meals is going to cut significant costs. I am little peeved because everybody else gets to eat and I don't.

Am I expecting too much here? I love AS and their people and living in SEA I don't have much of a choice in airlines and what little choice I have I don't like.

Will writing to AS help? your thoughts?
Special meals were cut because it was a significant cost savings. In order to be able to continue food service of any kind we had to figure out ways to cut costs while still serving food people would like to eat. I would say that at least 50% of the time people that ordered special meals were not on board and the food was wasted. Probably 30-40% of the time, the person ordering the special meal thought they could decide whether they would eat the special meal or the meal for everyone else. A percentage of people order them so they are sure to have a choice on board.

I'm sure that many people have legitimate dietary needs and would appreciate a special snack. These days, food is not a "feature" on an airplane. If a snack is offered at all, I have to think that it's a bonus, since most airlines don't serve anything and most people don't expect anything. We try to cater to the larger number of people and after much consideration, on the part of our catering department, it was decided that eliminating special meals was a change that we could make to affect the bottom line without impacting the majority of our customers.
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Old Sep 14, 05, 5:51 pm
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Originally Posted by Westcoaster
them to stop offering free booze in F and using the money to give us better food options, but that isn't going to happen.
Thats Crazy. The free booze is what first is all about. Especially since the AS FC cabin offers minimal creature comforts and IFE.

Junkie-
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Old Sep 14, 05, 6:11 pm
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Originally Posted by Westcoaster
I wrote AS about this earlier this year and they responded by essentially telling me to bring my own food. You can try writing, but don't hold your breath for any improvement.

Unfortunately the food they offer tends to be unhealthy (at least according to my definition) so you and I are both stuck on long flights. My personal preference would be for them to stop offering free booze in F and using the money to give us better food options, but that isn't going to happen.

The airlines are looking for more things to take away, so I assume it will not get better any time soon.
People don't get on an airplane to get a healthy, delicious meal. That we serve food at all is a throwback to the old days of regulation when prices were set by the government and the ONLY thing that airlines could do to compete was to try to offer the most and best "creature comforts". These days, airlines compete on the basis of price and that airline that has the lowest price generally wins the customer. Schedules play a small role in who people choose as well. Price, however, is the overriding factor in determining who gets the business. That being the case, meals and magazines and pillows and blankets have taken a back seat to lower prices. That being said, I think that it would be within the airlines best interest to provide at least a decent buy on board option if not providing a complimentary meal or snack. Oddly enough, for all the complaints about lack of food, two of the most popular, profitable airlines in the U.S. right now serve only packaged snacks (chips, peanuts, cookies, etc.) - even on their longest, transcon flights.

Last edited by AS Flyer; Sep 14, 05 at 8:26 pm
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Old Sep 14, 05, 7:28 pm
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Originally Posted by Westcoaster
My personal preference would be for them to stop offering free booze in F and using the money to give us better food options, but that isn't going to happen.
I hope you are kidding but it sounds like you are not. This comment actually made me feel a little uneasy and I am sure this is not a pleasant thought for others as well. The "free booze" is very much expected from both me and my spouse on our Friday/Sunday evening flight. Most airlines around the world provide free booze in all classes. I realize that some people can't handle alcohol at 35,000 feet but most in FC enjoy at least a glass of wine. It certainly makes the trip go by faster and more enjoyable for both long and short routes.
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Old Sep 14, 05, 8:49 pm
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Originally Posted by westcoastman
I hope you are kidding but it sounds like you are not. This comment actually made me feel a little uneasy and I am sure this is not a pleasant thought for others as well. The "free booze" is very much expected from both me and my spouse on our Friday/Sunday evening flight. Most airlines around the world provide free booze in all classes. I realize that some people can't handle alcohol at 35,000 feet but most in FC enjoy at least a glass of wine. It certainly makes the trip go by faster and more enjoyable for both long and short routes.
Mr. Westcoaster and I don't drink by choice. I've been watching on recent flights in F and a number of people don't order alcohol (maybe AS Flyer can give us a percentage based on his experience.)

I'm not criticizing those who do drink. But I feel like when we're in F we are subsidizing those who do drink at a time when benefits that ARE important to me (like special meals) are being taken away. If an airline is going to take away the better food options in F and leave us with slimy eggs for breakfast, why shouldn't they consider taking away the free alcohol? Why isn't alcohol on the table like everything else? (Well, I guess it's literally on the table, but you know what I mean. )

I realize I'm in the minority here, but I don't understand why alcohol should be a sacred cow in this discussion.

And my apologies to the OP for steering this away from special meals. I'm very disappointed that they're gone too.
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Old Sep 14, 05, 9:29 pm
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The cost to airlines of a "free drink" is really small - maybe 50c/bottle these days? Even if it is up to $1, it isn't very much. If it is from a bottle of wine, it is even less. And for each "free drink", it is that much less non-alcohol served, which also isn't "free" to the airline.
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Old Sep 14, 05, 9:43 pm
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Originally Posted by Westcoaster
Mr. Westcoaster and I don't drink by choice. I've been watching on recent flights in F and a number of people don't order alcohol (maybe AS Flyer can give us a percentage based on his experience.)

I'm not criticizing those who do drink. But I feel like when we're in F we are subsidizing those who do drink at a time when benefits that ARE important to me (like special meals) are being taken away. SNIP
I realize I'm in the minority here, but I don't understand why alcohol should be a sacred cow in this discussion.

And my apologies to the OP for steering this away from special meals. I'm very disappointed that they're gone too.
Amen!!! I am with you Westcoaster!! Get rid of the drinks; as it is aren't airlines complaining about people (not all I realize) getting drunk and causing a scene.
And personal peeve: people ordering alcohol in F on the Monday 7 AM flight. Are these people alcoholics or are they drinking because it's free? 7 AM?
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Old Sep 14, 05, 9:57 pm
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Originally Posted by magiclamp
Are these people alcoholics or are they drinking because it's free? 7 AM?
Yes we are all lushes - and imagine that we have to go without alcohol from the time we put our bottle down in the car at the Park'n'Fly to the time we get on the plane. Fortunately, the cops aren't looking for us DUI at 5:30 AM, so I can have that last "eye opener" before having to go through security.

Truth be known, I'll have one or two on a morning flight to try and get me back to a few zzzzzzs prior to arrival. Without it, I wouldn't have a chance at dozing. If the meal is substantial and the flight is long, I may have a 3rd. Of course, this rules AS out these days.
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Old Sep 14, 05, 10:01 pm
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Originally Posted by magiclamp
And personal peeve: people ordering alcohol in F on the Monday 7 AM flight. Are these people alcoholics or are they drinking because it's free? 7 AM?
I'm sorry that it peeves you that not everyone works bankers hours, or functions in your time zone. I got off work at 7am for 4 years... as far as I'm concerned.. its happy hour.
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Old Sep 14, 05, 10:10 pm
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Originally Posted by Eastbay1K
The cost to airlines of a "free drink" is really small - maybe 50c/bottle these days? Even if it is up to $1, it isn't very much. If it is from a bottle of wine, it is even less. And for each "free drink", it is that much less non-alcohol served, which also isn't "free" to the airline.
I guess it's all a matter of perspective. I'm betting that the money spent on free alcohol in F would cover adding some sort of bread to the breakfast tray. I'd rather have the bread, others may prefer the alcohol. AS has made the decision that the alcohol is more important. I lose.

Edited to add: I assume that alcohol costs more than soda just based on the prices I see at the store. If alcoholic drinks don't cost AS more than the other beverages in F, then my position is wrong.

Last edited by Westcoaster; Sep 14, 05 at 10:16 pm
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Old Sep 14, 05, 10:11 pm
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I would say that about 1/2 to 3/4 of F passengers have either a glass of wine, a beer or a mixed drink during a flight, depending on the time of day. Alcohol costs are probably a fraction of meal costs on a flight where we offer meals.
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Old Sep 14, 05, 10:31 pm
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Originally Posted by AS Flyer
I would say that about 1/2 to 3/4 of F passengers have either a glass of wine, a beer or a mixed drink during a flight, depending on the time of day. Alcohol costs are probably a fraction of meal costs on a flight where we offer meals.
Thanks for the percentages.

On another thread I believe you guessed that AS saved thousands of dollars each year by not having muffins (or something similar) at breakfast. Wouldn't AS also save thousands each year by not having free alcohol in F?

I'm not trying to be difficult here. I just don't get why the alcohol is different from the muffins.

I do very much appreciate your input.
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Old Sep 14, 05, 10:36 pm
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Alcohol isn't a perishible item, and if you normally have X% of "muffins" or other fresh foodstuffs get tossed, you don't have any alcohol get dumped on a flight no one wants to drink. Also it is a relatively low cost item and replaces a free item, ie, a complimentary non-alcoholic beverage, making its marginal cost even lower.
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