Air travel is rough these days. Not that I remember the golden age of flight, but getting hit up side the head by flight attendants 19 times as they wander the aisles looking angry without so much as an apology (rather, looks of disdain as if to say, “why are you here?”) isn’t fun. Add two small children, a four flight, and coach seating and you get one lovely afternoon.
Yesterday my family and I hopped on a plane headed for a conference I attend each year. What is it about airplanes that makes kids hungry? And what is it about kids being hungry that makes their parents hungry? Our flight left at 3:10 pm and the moment we sat down the refrains of, “I’m so hungry,” emanated from our 4 year old. Luckily, as I stated the other day, I married up. Organized and prepared, my partner directed me to the apples, bars, bunny snacks, and water. Let me say this: thank goodness.
About 20 minutes into the flight the attendants started their in flight service. I thought to myself, “Four hour flight. Why do this now?” Maybe that was my inner parent speaking hoping for something later to break up the ride.
“Food for purchase. No free food on this flight,” the attendant announced repeatedly as she traipsed down the aisle. I can’t say I was shocked, but I was surprised that a) there wouldn’t even be a bag of pretzel crumbs, and b) that they would choose to market this way. You’ve already got people crammed in like sardines and now not only have you taken away their pretzels (and a parent’s promise of “snacks form the cart”) you rub it in their face by saying, “no free food.” Even better, 12 bucks for 7 Pringles. I passed and snuck a few bunny snacks from the 4 year old.
I travel a fair amount and am fully aware that snacks have been fading away and that food for purchase is here to stay. So be it. However, I would love to see some research done on how travelers respond to “Food for purchase. No free food on this flight,” compared to something like “We have a wonderful assortment of snacks and beverage for your purchase.” My hunch is that more people would be willing to shell out a few bucks if at least the veil of customer service was in front of them. Or maybe flight attendants are just angry.
The way that food is presented to us represents a powerful force. In no way am I advising airlines to alter their practices in order to pinch even more dollars out of us (next time you go online to reserve your seats you’ll see “$20 for kind service, check here), however, as I just stated, people may be more inclined to buy snacks from a friendly face. Who knows, maybe people could even enjoy air travel again.