Get ready to pay for better meals on Jet Airways, and lounge access, and preferential seating


/ˌʌnˈbʌndl/verb [T] COMMERCE, MARKETING


› to start to sell a product or service separately when previously it had been sold together with others.

You just saw the definition of unbundling as published in the Cambridge dictionary. Now, this one is going to play out soon by a ‘full-service airline’ in India called Jet Airways.

This report published in an English daily a couple of days ago indicates the plans Jet Airways has going forward to increase its ancillary revenue. It says:

After low cost carriers, Indian full service airlines are also going to offer passengers the option of pre-booking their desired cuisine for a fee instead of being forced to eat whatever is served without any extra charge.

India’s biggest private airline, Jet Airways, is planning to offer a range of cuisines like Italian, Chinese or continental to passengers who can book it in advance for a payment of about $10 (about Rs 560). While this option will be to both domestic and international flyers, the free regular meal service will remain for all those who do not wish to pay extra on a full service airline.

It further goes on to say…

The other areas being looked at for this purpose are – charging for pre-selection of seats and offering specialized services at airports like faster check-ins. Jet may offer business lounge access to economy passengers also for a fee.

“We plan to use technology to the fullest so that the overall convenience level for passengers goes up. Beyond that if a passenger is looking for any special service, there can be charge for that,” said sources.

Now, I would be very interested in seeing how this new meal is going to play out, because I have been criticizing Jet Airways’ meals right here on the blog for a few months now since they no longer look like they were before. The discussion on frequent flyer boards is a suspicion that the new ‘exotic’ meal will then be a good meal, and slowly and steadily the free meal will be cut down even more to be made a sandwich, maybe, and the full meal will be sold going forward. Now, is that going to be the only differentiation between JetKonnect and Jet Airways, then this is no longer going to be a Full-Service airline in my eyes.

How will frequent flyers be treated is going to be an issue of concern as well. Jet Airways Platinum elites get to select their seats free of cost as of now, apart from other services like free printouts on the airports and so on. Will the elites be given the choice to have these ‘better’ meals for free on board, a-la American Airlines, which anyways tries to offer the top-tier elites a complimentary upgrade to domestic First Class, and if not, offers them a choice of buy-on-board food and beverages.

The other amusing part for me is the bit on offering lounge access to economy passengers. Last I checked, Jet Airways’ own lounges hardly exist in Indian airports, and they use contract lounges (and restaurants disguised as lounges) most of the places they fly from. So, will they be charging passengers to offer them access to contract lounges? Especially when some of these lounges may have free access via a credit card anyways?

Lets see how this plays out, and if Jet Airways will have this offering up and running by then, I’d like to try this at least one time to see how the offering will be.

Will you pay? Let me know below:

Will you pay for a 'better' meal on a full-service flight if you already have the option of a free meal?

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About Ajay

Ajay Awtaney is the Founder and Editor of Live From A Lounge (LFAL), a pioneering digital platform renowned for publishing news and views about aviation, hotels, passenger experience, loyalty programs, travel trends and frequent travel tips for the Global Indian. He is considered the Indian authority on business travel, luxury travel, frequent flyer miles, loyalty credit cards and travel for Indians around the globe. Ajay is a frequent contributor and commentator on the media as well, including ET Now, BBC, CNBC TV18, NDTV, Conde Nast Traveller and many other outlets.

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  1. Yep agree, I flew TUI recently, bought the pre order meal, everyone got the smallest tray during the service. I was given a HUGE tray, with about 5 different plates of food. Well worth it. Be keen to see these options when they start soon!

  2. If the paid meal is actually good and worth it, yes. If it is the same old ‘airline’ type of food, heck no.

  3. Yeah will definitely be interesting…Wonder what else will become unbundled? It’s the latest ‘fashion’ trend at the moment for these pre order meals, so far this month this is the 4th airline to announce such a venture!

  4. $10 for an upgraded meal is good value, if you compare it to say Air France (starting at around 15 euros and skyrocketing to 28 euro!) Delta/Us Airways is around the $20 mark. Be interesting to see how the meals look, starts September!

    • @Nikos, purchasing power parity has a role to play as well in the money to be paid for the meal, also the point where ‘most’ of your audience won’t shy away from paying. I’m watching this one from the sidelines to see how this develops.

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