Three Reasons Why Airport Food is not Considered Pilot Supplies. - Airspeed Junkie
Three Reasons Why Airport Food is not Considered Pilot Supplies.

Three Reasons Why Airport Food is not Considered Pilot Supplies.

Three Reasons Why Airport Food is not Considered Pilot Supplies.


I carry a fair amount of stuff in my flight bag that can be considered pilot supplies.  But nothing is more important to me than something to eat or snack on.  Let’s face it, you can carry a headset or an iPad, but you cannot eat them.

So why is airport food so disappointing?

I have been flying for over thirty five years, and in those years I have discovered some trend analysis that has allowed me to figure out this perplexing dilemma. Make no bones about it, airport food (or as I call them, pilot supplies) is not good, her is why:


  1. You are trapped.  When you come to the airport as a passenger, you are stuck at the airport.  You forget about the food option and now you are going to pay for it. (Literally). You cannot go anywhere else and the airport guru’s know this.  All venues that sell a product at the airport, whether a toy, soda, or meal, pay the airport a percentage fee based on sales.  This in turn is passed onto the customer.  This is why if you order something from a chain restaurant, it costs more at the airport.
  2. Depending on how often you travel, and where you are traveling to, repeat business is not a factor.  No one will admit this merely because no one addresses it at the airport.  For example, if you go out to eat at your favorite chain place at home and have a terrible experience, you can say something or complain and chances are good it will be corrected.  Why?  Because they want you to come back, that is the name of the game.  A repeat customer is the most valuable asset a food establishment can have.  At the airport, chances are you are in a hurry and won’t even eat that piece of pizza till after you get on the plane.  Then you are stuck with it.  This next sentence is highly controversial, but I am going to say it anyway.  At some, not all, but some places, the people they hire could care less if you ever came back at all.  (And it shows). Why?  Because tomorrow will bring back a new batch of a gazillion people that are all in a hurry and are all hungry.  The fact will remain unchanged that who you hire will be the face of your brand.  If your people don’t care and management is not around to make sure they care, you are in trouble.  This is not a new problem, but it is more difficult at the airport environment.
  3. Value proposition.  Some restaurants have some sort of value proposition plan combined with service to entice you to buy.  After all, the name of the game is repeat customers right.  But because the prices are higher at the airport, the value proposition usually goes out the window.  In some countries, which I will not name, the value proposition does not exist.  The bottom line is you are going to pay up a lot more with no increase in portion size or quality.  I have this unique angle on this which my wife hates but seems very logical to me.  I use the McDonalds quarter pounder as a benchmark.  I can buy a quarter pounder with cheese meal just about anywhere and I will get a good standardized product.  So if I go to another place an order a hamburger, and that hamburger is twice as much as the quarter pounder, then it needs to be twice as good or have some sort of extra value proposition attached to it like phenomenal service or something similar.  I face this exact dilemma at home as well, but it seems to be always worse when you are traveling because you are not home.  And yes a hamburger with fries can be considered pilot supplies.
  4. Service.  Of course this is probably silly of me to add, but I understand that hiring good people is always a challenge.  It always has been and in fact I think it is getting worse with our latest generation.  But how about hiring people that can communicate effectively or speak in a complete sentence.  I am not asking for much but you would be amazed.


Eating right while traveling has always been a major challenge, finding all three of these concepts together does not make it hard.  After four days of traveling and dealing with it all, there is nothing better than sitting down to a home cooked meal.

To see traditional pilot supplies and aviation products click here.

Photo Copyright: lightwise / 123RF Stock Photo

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14 Responses to “Three Reasons Why Airport Food is not Considered Pilot Supplies.”

  1. I generally just thought airport food sucked in general, this was interesting as to why, interesting perspective

  2. Interesting stuff. Looks like I better figure out some better food to take on my next trip.

  3. Mmm… interesting read. I must say, a lot of people told me that airport food isn’t that good but that doesn’t really matter since I haven’t went out for a trip before.

  4. If you are an entrepreneur, it looks like opening a food stall in the airport is awesome due to the points listed here. Honestly though, aside from the price range, I quite like eating at the airport– maybe because at the back of your mind you know you’re “going somewhere” so there’s something exciting about that.

  5. Yes, prices are higher at the airport and the food aren’t that great. But you have no choice. You still have to buy ’cause you have to eat!

  6. I couldn’t agree less. The fact that you are trapped and have no other option would make you spend a lot more than is expected on food at the airports.

  7. Ah yea, nothing beats a home cooked meal but you gotta do what you gotta do. What I like to do is carry with me some trail mix, my favorite kind so I don’t have to spend on expensive airport food or be disappointed that the airplane food wasn’t at par with my expectation.

  8. I agree with your write up. Airport food is not that to someone’s expectations.

  9. Airplane food is not that bad in terms of taste here in the Philippines. The problem is mostly the price. Even a soda in the airport is probably twice the price it normally is in the malls.

  10. Let me be honest here for some one who has not rode a plane before articles like these are very eye opening. I just do not like the notion of WE HAVE TO EAT so who cares. I mean food being bad may warrant some truth since airports are not exactly a commercial area.

  11. You are so right that passengers will be left stuck in the airport with no choices to pick their foods. However, my other concern aside from the certain choices of airplane foods is its towering cost.

  12. Great point you make here. And quite frankly, being a businessperson myself, I don’t even consider a person to be a customer UNLESS they do some amount of repeat business, even if it’s just coming back a second time to buy something. Selling something to a person once is merely a transaction in my book. But like you said, airlines don’t really care about this because they know that there will be a gazillion hungry buyers the next day. So I think the only thing that will really change the airlines’ approach is great competition in the marketplace that will force them to care — or if passengers start complaining and take their business elsewhere, and/or resist buying airline food. Customers always have the power. Now whether they exercise their power or not (especially en masse) is what makes all the difference.

  13. Haha I have not travelled that often but I agree with you the food is really mediocre. I rather eat at home before I travel. Nice article

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