SWISS Selling Discounted Mystery Meals To Reduce Food Waste

SWISS Selling Discounted Mystery Meals To Reduce Food Waste

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Suffice it to say that airlines waste a lot of food. When airlines have buy on board menus, they can never accurately predict exactly how much people will order on a particular flight. For drinks and packaged snacks this isn’t an issue, since those can be resold in the future. However, it creates a real problem for fresh food items, which could be wasted. SWISS is now running a creative trial to address this.

SWISS selling leftover food at a discount

SWISS is trialing a new concept whereby it’s selling unsold food items at reduced prices, with the goal of reducing the amount of fresh food that’s wasted. This concept is being tested in cooperation with “Too Good To Go,” an app platform for connecting companies with users to reduce food waste.

SWISS has a buy on board menu on short haul flights, and the airline caters food based on historical sales data, to predict passenger demand as accurately as possible. However, there are often leftovers, so the airline is now trying to reduce waste associated with that.

On the last flight of the day from Geneva, SWISS is selling unsold food at greatly reduced prices:

  • At the end of the flight, an announcement is made informing passengers that some extra food is available for sale
  • Customers can purchase a bag containing one, two, or three fresh food items, at a third of the usual cost
  • The bag’s contents aren’t revealed in advance, and remain a surprise to the purchaser
  • This trial is being run in August and September, and the airline is awaiting final results to decide whether to expand it further; it’s stated that the initial trial results have been “promising,” and that this has been well received
SWISS is selling mystery meals at a discount

This is a great concept

I love the idea behind what SWISS is doing here. If food is going to be wasted anyway, it’s mutually beneficial if the airline can give the food to someone who wants it at a reduced cost, so that it hopefully gets consumed. This is also structured in a way that should minimize the extent to which SWISS cannibalizes its own inflight sales — it’s only sold at the end of the flight, and passengers don’t know what they’re buying.

My only concern here would be around dietary restrictions. For example, I don’t eat pork, and I could totally see myself ending up with a bag that has three prosciutto sandwiches in it. But hey, I guess that’s part of the risk, and in the grand scheme of things waste is still being reduced here.

Example of SWISS’ buy on board fresh catering

Bottom line

SWISS is running a trial that’s intended to reduce food waste, as airlines often end up with leftovers. With this trial, the airline is selling food at heavily discounted prices on the last flight of the night. Prior to landing, an announcement is made letting people purchase some “mystery” fresh food — customers just choose how many items they want, and the contents will be a surprise.

Now, if airlines could start doing this with their leftover first class champagne and caviar… 😉

What do you make of this SWISS trial? Could you see yourself buying a mystery meal if the price is right?

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  1. John

    The "Too Good To Go" concept is also put to work in the Senator lounges in Zurich.

    Hot breakfast: scrambled eggs with mushrooms.

    Hot lunch: polenta with mushrooms.

  2. Jim Napier

    Loving this concept. So sad to see good food thrown away when it could be sold and enjoyed. A win-win!

  3. Leigh

    Back when AA flew LAX-YYZ nonstop I was on the plane about every 2 weeks, and there was always the same flight attendant up front. Without me ever asking for anything, every time I disembarked he always had a plastic bag full of every little liquor bottle left from both the front and rear galleys...and I mean a FULL bag of liquor...it was hilarious. I knew he had other interests; he was playful with his...

    Back when AA flew LAX-YYZ nonstop I was on the plane about every 2 weeks, and there was always the same flight attendant up front. Without me ever asking for anything, every time I disembarked he always had a plastic bag full of every little liquor bottle left from both the front and rear galleys...and I mean a FULL bag of liquor...it was hilarious. I knew he had other interests; he was playful with his talk but always within bounds.

    Anyways, I like what SWISS is trialing.

  4. Dorothy Beaulieu

    On a De!ta flight from Paris first class, the FA asked if I would like an open bottle of wine.None had been consumed. She did this for everyone.

  5. Chatter

    I use the app here in NYC. It's great! For example, let's say a pastry at a bakery is usually $3-4. In the surprise bag for $5 there are 2-3 random pastries. Or sometimes it's a couple different types of sliced bread. I love the concept. It's a surprise so IF you are a really picky eater, just pay full price and do your thing. Oh and the restaurant can cancel your order a few hours in advance if they run out of food. Easy win for everyone.

  6. Cedric

    Correct me if I'm wrong but they can't do this with international flights due to restrictions. So on a flight coming from Europe, everyting left over is going to the trash. They really should give it away

  7. JB

    I also echo the concern about dietary restrictions. But, I suppose if you really do have one, you could let the crew know and they might be accommodating.

  8. STEFFL

    interesting . . . and again copied by those SWISS people. ;-(
    airberlin used to do the same thing with a 20% discount on there HOT and cold meals on the last rotations of there daily flights.
    I remember, flying back home late at night and it was hard to get anything on those flights as the demand was huge most of the time.
    That was over 7 years ago already.
    ...

    interesting . . . and again copied by those SWISS people. ;-(
    airberlin used to do the same thing with a 20% discount on there HOT and cold meals on the last rotations of there daily flights.
    I remember, flying back home late at night and it was hard to get anything on those flights as the demand was huge most of the time.
    That was over 7 years ago already.
    Sounds like as so often, these SWISS people copy the clever things from the German airlines as was back at LTU Airlines times already and airberlin later.

    1. Eskimo

      So I guess Swissair copied bankruptcy from LTU.
      Now Airberlin went bankrupt, so the next logical step is SWISS going bankrupt?

      But don't forget the LH Group owns SWISS, so technically they are already a German airline.

  9. Matt

    This isn't news. American Airlines has been serving mystery meals for years. Is it a lobster sandwich or cat vomit on a stale bread roll; it's anyone's guess!

    1. David

      But AA doesn't discount it. You have to full price for the privilege!

  10. Clem

    That's an interesting concept and partnership. I actually do use Too Good To Go regularly, in most cities there are tons of options every day and it's a great way to get food on the cheap and avoid it being thrown away.

  11. John Ryan

    It sounds interesting but the only thing is that you’d have to throw it away if you’re going through customs.

    1. Wilhelm

      Within the EU, EEA plus Switzerland there are no restrictions on bringing food across the border as long as it has been bought in one of these countries.

  12. Miles

    "Now, if airlines could start doing this with their leftover first class champagne and caviar…"

    After dealing with unruly pax the flight attendants may deserve the champagne :)

  13. VÍTOR SILVA

    The idea is interesting, the concept is great but why not giving the 'surprise pack' to all Star Alliance Gold passengers on board first and then selling the rest?

    1. KL

      does everything have to be given to elites? they're already elite enough as it is. sorry i'm just a peasant.

    2. Reno Joe

      This has nothing to do with social standing. This has everything to do with how much one patronizes a business. A rich man who is not a regular customer will be treated in the same manner as a poor person who is not a regular customer.

      Imagine that you own a shoe shop. A person walks in whom you recall buys one or two pairs of shoes per year. Then, a second person walks in...

      This has nothing to do with social standing. This has everything to do with how much one patronizes a business. A rich man who is not a regular customer will be treated in the same manner as a poor person who is not a regular customer.

      Imagine that you own a shoe shop. A person walks in whom you recall buys one or two pairs of shoes per year. Then, a second person walks in who you know to be Ms. Jones, who buys a pair of shoes every other week. You offer Ms. Jones a seat, a cup of coffee, and cookies. You notice that the first person seems slighted. So, you say to the first person, "This is my way of thanking those very regular customers who have supported my business and my family. I would love it if you also were a very regular customer so that I can thank you in a similar manner." A person who is not a very regular customer has no reasonable expectation of perks reserved for very regular customers.

      The average, disinterested person walking down the street would find this scenario to be fair.

    3. Tortuga

      For several reasons, I would think that Gold elites neither need nor want free, surprise, spoilable food. The marketing science behind the average Joe opting to take a chance basically guarantees a revenue stream for LX.

    4. Tracy

      Oh wow, gold elite benefit: leftovers.

Featured Comments Load all 22 comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

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Abey

Give it to the poor

KL

does everything have to be given to elites? they're already elite enough as it is. sorry i'm just a peasant.

Leigh

Awesome reply !:):):)

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