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Saturday morning thought from the lounge: what will happen to the catering of full-service legacy airlines?

?The food and beverage in the lounge is a cost center. Unlike in food stores where consumers are allowed to pay more for better tasting products, the airline lounge has one set of products. In the post-Covid days the finance teams seem to win the argument against the marketing teams. The only options worth of a “business class” are the Chardonnay and the peanuts. ?

?What is the future of the lounge? The customer value proposition of the lounge used to be the F&B, but nowadays it has shifted the quiet co-working space.

?Looking at what railways are offering: spacious restaurant cars look like real restaurants with menus. No free peanuts but does it matter? ?

?What is the future of free food? Low cost airline players don’t offer any lounge or any free food. They follow the restaurant route where consumers pay for the quality they wish.

?Overall the unbundling of the airline product has seen bags, seats and changes being monetized as ancillaries. Only consumers who value these service pay for it. The lounge’s free food is the last frontier of unbundling.

?Why would an airline not partner with a restaurant chef or chain to offer a real catering service? Why not partner with a food delivery service to get food in the lounge or on board?

?Why would airlines not do it themselves like Air Asia? This is the kind of debate we have at Nawal Taneja’s Symposium, pushing the boundaries of airline business models.

?Moving from the “all you can eat” model, which is driving quality down, to an “on demand” model, will also better manage waste. I can only imagine the amount of lounge wastes in a time of highly volatile demand ?

Any thoughts on the future of airline lounges and catering? ?