Imagine flying over 9 hours in Economy and not getting a measly meal!
Westjet isn’t offering free meals in economy class on its new long-haul route and it’s the first carrier to do this on a direct flight from Vancouver to Europe. It takes nine to nine and a half hours to get to London’s Gatwick airport.
“Within Canada, we are the only carrier charging for hot meals in the economy section of our aircraft,” WestJet spokesperson Robert Palmer said in an emailed statement.
The airline started flying to London from Vancouver on May 6 and it’s running the non-stop service six times weekly until mid October.
“Our guests have always told us that they do not want to pay for things they do not need or want, and that includes expensive meals,” said Palmer.
WestJet considers itself a low-cost carrier and says its major competitor, Air Canada, is a legacy carrier and uses a different business model.
“Fares will include more features, but they’re also more expensive. Comparisons between the two types of carriers are problematic because you’re comparing two different business models,” said Palmer.
WestJet also points to the Norwegian Air flight from New York to London, on which the company does ask for meal payment on certain fares.
But other low-cost airlines such as Air Transat, with non-stop service from Vancouver to London, do offer free meals on all flights to Europe.
Transport Canada says there are no rules around providing free meals on flights.
How much do these meals cost anyways?
What do you think? Is this is a dealbreaker for you (all things being equal amongst carriers)?
Norwegian charges $42 for meals on nonstop flights. My Stockholm to Oakland flight last month was 12 hours. I bought about $40 of food in a Stockholm market and fed two of us smoked salmon, cheese, fruits and vegies for the flight.
I prefer making my own meals anyway.
Ric, that seems really high! That sounds like a better meal than you might get in the air. My expectations for meals in the air were blown away with the Air New Zealand service from SYD to AKL – even a nice bottle of wine provided!
Why did you write this article, do you realize what you just did? United and American will also start charging for the meals.
Air Transit started life as a charter that promoted its difference by providing meals and drinks gratis. It continues this tradition. WS is a bare bones carrier whose business model domestic or overseas is “you pay extra for what you want” beyond a soft drink. It has reluctantly moved into the “premium” seat realm because it has a niche to provide feeder flights to gateway cities for the likes of CX, AF, BA, etc. who have demanded some differentiation for their premium customers (who they don’t want to put on AC feeder flights). Even if its fares are now comparable to AC’s WS has a business model and why change it. People who fly WS know they must pay for everything and they accept it.
As for your comment about “how much would giving free meals cost?” shows how ignorant you are of the realities of thin margins airlines today operate with. Consider 200x$40=$8,000. That’s probably more than WS actually makes flying the route. Ever wonder why the legacy airlines (AC being among the first) reduce the number of FF miles they give on discount fares? Because these add up. If you’re paying $800 to fly between YVR-LHR, the UK government gets bout $150, other non-airline fees add $50 or more. That leaves the airline with $600 or less. Figure it must account FF miles at at least 1¢ each, the 9K FF miles to be purchased take another $90 from that $600. So those additional costs add up quickly to pretty much wipe out the profit margins on such flights. Add the cost of meals and you’re running at a loss.
Air Transat now only provides a sandwich on transatlantic flights
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