How much does an airline meal actually cost – and how much does the champagne really cost?

Posted on December 24, 2014 by in Lufthansa Miles and More

A good number of the 'more senior' FlyerTalk members seem to use their awards to get a really good meal for free. The flight destination becomes pointless in the race for the best champagne and seven course meal.

I'm the first to admit I enjoy this perk too and some of the meals and the setup have been stellar!

But how much does a meal actually cost the airline?

This article estimates costs for economy meals to be around $10 and business class meals more like $40. First class meals are much harder to classify, since every scoop of caviar can cost $20 alone. I'd say $100 is a safe bet for the better first class airlines – that is without the costs of the staff serving the food and your drinks.

How much does the airline pay for drinks?

Even more stunning is the announcement from Singapore Airlines that it paid SGD 29.4 million just for champagne last year! Singapore Airlines' total cost for catering is about 5.5% of costs, or about SGD700 million.

So I wondered how much is that per business class and first class passenger (though some Singapore Airlines flights might actually serve champagne in economy class as well)?

According to the 2013 Annual Report, the airline had revenues of SGD 15 billion and profits of SGD200 million in that year.

The airline had 18 million passengers in those 12 months. The average fare was therefore about SGD$800 which is pretty high and reflects the long-haul and premium character Singapore Airlines tries to achieve. The total catering costs (incl. all drinks and food) were about SGD$50 (US$50) per person, which is very high considering that economy passengers make up the bulk (90%) of all passengers.

If we continue to assume that about 10% of all passengers are in Premium cabins, that gives us 1.8 million business and first class passengers. Therefore the cost of champagne per passenger is about SGD20, which, depending on the type of champagne, is about one or two glasses.

And with that I'd say Merry Christmas everyone – I hope you have a good bottle ready and chilled for the holidays.

Picture from my review of Lufthansa First Class from Frankfurt to Vancouver and from

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