Qantas is looking at 'buy on board' for meals, inflight movies

Qantas is looking at 'buy on board' for meals, inflight movies

EXCLUSIVE | Qantas could begin charging passengers for meals, movies and even a single piece of checked luggage under a new pricing model being considered by the airline.

The scheme would be partnered to a 'basic economy' fare similar to those recently introduced by British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Air New Zealand and US airlines American, Delta and United.

This would entitle passengers to an economy class seat and, well, pretty much nothing else unless they pay extra for it.

Qantas has floated the concept in a survey sent out this week to its select Qantas Advisory Panel, an invitation-only group of frequent flyers regularly polled to assess the airline's future plans.

Members are being asked for their thoughts on "pay as you use Qantas flights between Australia and New Zealand", indicating the busy and highly competitive trans-Tasman routes as a likely launch pad for what has often been a contentious model when adopted by other airlines.

"By 'pay as you use' we mean the ability to purchase a base fare, then add on items such as baggage, food & beverage, in-flight entertainment (and) seat choice for an additional cost – only as you require them", the survey elaborates.

Such a move would represent a sharp about-face for Qantas, which has often made a selling point of its full-service promise that every passenger on every fare gets a meal and checked baggage.

Approached by Australian Business Traveller for comment, a Qantas spokesperson offered this expected boilerplate text :"We regularly conduct surveys with our Advisory Panel, asking for their feedback on a range of topics and ideas. We are always looking at ways to improve the customer experience, however have no plans to introduce this at this stage."

Updated 25/5/18: Qantas has now issued a follow-up statement which appears to rule out the buy-on-board approach, saying "we have no intention on unbundling our fares."

Read: Qantas says it has no plans to charge for meals, drinks and baggage

Cheap seats and paid-for-eats across the pond?

The impending split between former partners Virgin Australia and Air New Zealand will turn the trans-Tasman market into a three-cornered battle in which Qantas is eager to gain the advantage.

Introducing a seat-only economy fare between Australia and New Zealand would bring Qantas closer to Air New Zealand's Seats to Suit strategy, which offers three packages – Seat, Seat + Bag and The Works – with varying options.

This starts with a basic Seat fare which doesn't include checked baggage, inflight movies or meals, with the latter available from a 'buy on board' menu using a credit card or prepaid voucher.

Air New Zealand also sells a Works Deluxe package on its all-economy Airbus A320 jets, which acts as a 'pseudo-business class' offering similar to EuroBusiness where passengers get the full bundle plus perks such as an empty seat next to them, an extra free checked bag plus priority check-in, boarding and bag handling.

Earn Qantas frequent flyer points on every dollar you spend and get a sign-up bonus of up to 120,000 points with our expert monthly round-up of Australia's best Qantas Frequent Flyer credit card sign-up deals.

David Flynn
David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.
 

61 comments

  • russell

    russell

    24 May, 2018 01:33 am

    They already have this...it’s called Jetstar.
    Members who gave thanks

    bsb, JKH

  • -- --

    Bollen

    24 May, 2018 01:45 am

    I wonder if this would be lower in price than the Red e-Deal fare or maybe just replace it?
    No member give thanks

  • pilotdude09

    pilotdude09

    24 May, 2018 02:25 am

    This is literally the worst idea I’ve heard come from Qantas, jetstar 2.0
    Member who gave thanks

    JKH

  • Dredgy

    Dredgy

    24 May, 2018 02:51 am

    Not a huge fan. I like low cost and full service carriers to be distinct. If I just want a cheap seat, then there’s nothing wrong with Jetstar or Tiger and that’s who I’ll fly.

    If I want a meal and baggage and just don’t want to have to worry about what’s included, then I look for a full service carrier.
    Member who gave thanks

    ozind95

  • spacecadet

    spacecadet

    24 May, 2018 04:58 am

    I would expect to hear something like this (in the current climate) from, say, Etihad - but not Qantas. Aren’t they recording billion dollar annual profits?!
    No member give thanks

  • Traveller14

    Traveller14

    24 May, 2018 08:27 am

    It is (although fuel prices have risen, and hedging isn't cost free), but greed is so often present in Australia. Look at the huge salary that the CEO is on.
    No member give thanks

  • Lala295

    Lala295

    24 May, 2018 06:46 am

    I wonder if Qantas has heard of Jetstar? Pretty sure they own them and this is what they do
    Member who gave thanks

    JKH

  • Luke Spence

    Luke49

    24 May, 2018 07:25 am

    $1.6 billion is not enough. Qantas has really lost the plot if this occurs. Put a Jetstar 787 to AKL. Qantas has a premium airline and a low cost (JQ) ANZ doesn’t.
    Member who gave thanks

    JKH

  • Mark

    Mightyreds

    24 May, 2018 07:35 am

    What a stupid idea from Qantas management. They have a great fair structure currently which the market clearly like showing by the record profits. DO NOT PROCEED!!
    No member give thanks

  • andredfb

    andredfb

    24 May, 2018 07:42 am

    This will burn all the loyalty I have left for Qantas.
    Member who gave thanks

    JKH

  • k  lane

    londoner

    24 May, 2018 07:50 am

    Qantas ' fly generous
    No member give thanks

  • Robert Eden

    reno
    Banned

    24 May, 2018 07:51 am

    What a great idea,now you really would get what you paid for.
    No member give thanks

  • Adam T

    AT

    24 May, 2018 07:57 am

    Nothing says “innovation” like a ‘de bundle charge for everything’ pitch from the marketing department.
    No member give thanks

  • CityRail

    CityRail

    24 May, 2018 07:58 am

    Perhaps Qantas should rename themselves as Jetstar then.
    I don't mind buy on board, but only if I can enjoy a premium meal and more premium services as the result.
    But introducing no-frills price? Nono. I don't want to see dodgy people catching my plane at a cheap price then do all illegal activities such as exposing himself, or stealing others proprety on the overhead locker etc.
    Member who gave thanks

    bsb

  • 346

    346

    24 May, 2018 08:55 am

    So because I don't want to eat airline food, I'm all of a sudden someone who, in your words, dodgy?

    Member who gave thanks

    pkjames

  • mviy

    mviy

    24 May, 2018 07:59 am

    When I flew BA and there was no free meal/drink onboard I felt it was very cheap for what’s meant to be a premium airline. It would be a bad move for QF to copy this.
    No member give thanks

  • Sanjay Prakash

    sanj747

    24 May, 2018 08:10 am

    Absolutely poor and totally goes against the grain of what Qantas is or was should I say.
    No member give thanks

  • Steven Beale

    melbtraveler

    24 May, 2018 08:15 am

    I understand the possible motive and business case behind this but it would be a really bad move. Most other full service airlines that have opted into this fare option don't have the low cost subsidiary like qantas have with Jetstar
    No member give thanks

  • Pablo

    Pabs

    24 May, 2018 08:38 am

    I think this would be counterproductive for them, as they would have to seriously slash their prices down in order for people to continue to consider them, or else most would swap to AirNZ which has a FAR better soft product. Or choose AirChina/LAN from BNE/SYD with super cheap fares, full service and brand new A350/787 vs the cramped old 738 Qantas offers
    No member give thanks

  • Neil R

    Neil R

    24 May, 2018 08:52 am

    I get the business case, but this is really a poor move. Jetstar is the low cost option, and it should remain that way. It starts with the trans Tasman business, then before we know it, it will be across the entire network. QF should wait and see what happens with the break up of the Virgin / Air NZ alliance first. I suspect this could hurt Air NZ more then it thinks....
    No member give thanks

  • Helena Kane

    Helena Kane

    24 May, 2018 08:59 am

    If I want a no frill airline I would fly a no frill airline. If Qantas is going to join the no frill airline then I shall have to fly with Singapore airline everytime I go overseas. Qantas still uses the old aircraft to Singapore and I would still fly them even you are still dearer than SQ but to charge for everything then the loyalty will be to tell us to book any airline that have the cheapest fair
    No member give thanks

  • RK

    Ryan K

    24 May, 2018 08:59 am

    I hope Qantas are reading the comments on this article. It's a ridiculous idea, if people wanted this type of service they would fly Jetstar. After all, isn't that why they created Jetstar? Qantas need to leave a distinct difference between Qantas and Jetstar or else it will end up like Virgin Australia - an airline that's stuck in the middle between budget and premium, not really knowing what it wants to be.
    No member give thanks

  • RK

    Ryan K

    24 May, 2018 09:02 am

    It would also be interesting to know Jetstar's thoughts on this!
    No member give thanks

  • Bob Burgess

    Bob Burgess

    24 May, 2018 09:06 am

    I'm going to be contrary here and 'go against the flow' of comments. I wouldn't mind a cheaper seat-only economy fare on QF flights to Auckland. Nobody holds a gun to my head and says I have to buy that ticket, and I'm sure Qantas would still offer standard full-service tickets just like Air New Zealand does.

    But as a business traveller who flies economy on SYD-AKL I can get by with my carry-on cabin bag, I can eat at the lounge before I fly and I watch videos or read a magazine on my iPad or listen to music or podcasts on my iPhone. So I don't need all those QF-supplied extras so I am happy not to pay for them and be offered a cheaper economy fare as a result. As long as my basic fare earns points and status credits I would be fine with this proposal.
    No member give thanks

  • RK

    Ryan K

    24 May, 2018 09:18 am

    Fair enough comment. The thing to watch though, is whether the cheapest fare would actually come down in price, or would the current Red e-deal fare morph into food, drink or entertainment?
    No member give thanks

  • 346

    346

    24 May, 2018 09:18 am

    Agree ^
    Not sure why everyone is finding this such a terrible plan.(Just the idea of not being served a quiche on board a 3 hr flight! Could you imagine!!!!!??)
    I rarely eat on board anyway, and I'll pay the extra $30 for checked bag if it means saving a couple $100 on the other end.
    I presume with this discount fare, seat selection wont be included in the price, so I wonder if your preference would be up held for Silver, Gold, Plat etc QF members?


    No member give thanks

  • Jedi

    Jedi

    25 May, 2018 08:40 am

    I would tend to think that if the "basic fare" dropped with a no frills ticket and bundles like JQ. Then the most basic fare will not attract points and SCs. IMHO you will buy a bundle where you will earn those just like JQ.
    No member give thanks

  • Melbzone

    henry_168

    24 May, 2018 09:14 am

    This is a tragic for Qantas. SQ did that last year with the announcement of charging passengers with seat selection, etc. Within 24 hours, the announcement was corrected by SQ PR and such move was no longer valid. This is a sad case for any premium airlines to adopt a budget airline model. Emirates are doing so......... Who's next?
    No member give thanks

  • Jedinak K

    Jedinak K

    24 May, 2018 09:46 am

    Unfortunately it is our fault as price-conscious travellers, who are choosing flights based on their affordability rather than service. Airlines are feeling the pinch and hence needed a new business model to stay afloat.
    No member give thanks

  • ducati_boy

    ducati_boy

    24 May, 2018 09:47 am

    they're making it easier for me & our business to consider the jump to Virgin
    No member give thanks

  • 346

    346

    24 May, 2018 10:27 am

    So let me get this straight,
    You've considering moving from Qantas to a budget airline in Virgin because Qantas are considering introducing budget airline style fares, just like Virgin.
    hmmm
    No member give thanks

  • Scott Brown

    DownSouth

    24 May, 2018 11:14 am

    “Virgin a “budget” airline”, this statement couldn’t be further from the truth. Haven’t seen carriers like Etihad and Singapore actively investing in Budget airlines.
    No member give thanks

  • 346

    346

    24 May, 2018 12:11 pm

    Virgin are a low cost airline though

    Member who gave thanks

    bsb

  • 346

    346

    24 May, 2018 12:13 pm

    And Etihad a broke (can't afford a stadium sponsorship in Melbourne anymore), - Singapore have invested in Scoot .. so
    Member who gave thanks

    bsb

  • mb68

    mb68

    24 May, 2018 10:27 am

    Oh ... we will all complain about this ... but we will still fly them ...Monopoly x 2 I wonder what the ACCC will have to say? not much Id say.
    No member give thanks

  • Timothy Shears

    timothyshears

    24 May, 2018 10:47 am

    What rubbish, I fly Qantas so i don't have to get this crap on Jetstar
    No member give thanks

  • aussiflyer

    aussiflyer

    24 May, 2018 10:51 am

    QF currently charge International seat fees for sale fares but waive for Silver or above. Interesting proposition if they go down this path. One would hope the lead in would match the Air NZ seat product. Interestingly VA still allow Silver and above to get a bag even on a bag less ticket as a perk. Air NZ give increased hand luggage allowance as a FF perk for certain tiers. I am surprised they are looking at this though.
    No member give thanks

  • wdeguara

    wdeguara

    24 May, 2018 11:19 am

    Even though Qantas is not usually the cheapest fare in our company's travel booking system - a lot of business travelers I know prefer to pay a bit extra to get the additional services that they provide as part of their standard offering. This is how Qantas differentiated their product and brand from Virgin on domestic routes. By removing these extras from the standard fare - the difference between the two airlines becomes minimal. So for the business traveler the choice then boils down solely to price and schedule (unless they have a strong allegiance to a particular frequent flyer program). Will be interesting to see how this turns out if Qantas goes ahead with it.
    No member give thanks

  • moa999

    moa999

    24 May, 2018 12:16 pm

    I think this is the issue - but many companies are forcing you to pick the best fare of the day - so Qantas doesn't even get shown as an option.

    It's all about ensuring they are still selectable in these systems
    No member give thanks

  • Reginald

    Reginald

    24 May, 2018 11:22 am

    Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.
    Qantas needs to realise that is is not really an airline first and foremost anymore. It is a top tier lifestyle company that offers serious perks to members, the pinnacle of which is their flight schedule. People buy into the qantas brand because of the feeling of quality and specialness they feel of flying the top tier carrier. Once you start to water down the ‘value adds’ (however modest in a meat pie or cheap red on domestic economy) of the flying you start to undermine the other areas qantas generates profit from. Considering how valuable the Frequent Flyer arm revenue is to QF they should consider carefully the knock on effects of devaluing their most glamorous membership offering.
    No member give thanks

  • reeves35

    reeves35

    24 May, 2018 11:32 am

    The real potential downside of all this is that this ultra-cheap proposition will become the standard for reward redemptions meaning you will be charged extras on redemption bookings. Already some international travel using points is pointless (excuse the pun) due to the fees and "taxes" Qantas tag on. This has the potential to make it even worse.

    No member give thanks

  • sdtravel

    sdtravel

    24 May, 2018 11:34 am

    This starts a very slippery slope. First Transtasman then other routes.
    If you want to be a full service airline then you cant be a full service airline with a caveat.
    If i want to fly on the cheap and a budget airline i will fly jetstar.

    I provided such feedback in my survey.

    I dont like the idea and it sounds like a move to just keep capacity the same as required by thier emirates deal as they cant pull out.

    No member give thanks

  • walkuphill

    walkuphill

    24 May, 2018 11:36 am

    this is a great initiative, I never eat on a plane and rarely check in bagggage, so it would suit me. Plus I’m platinum so I’m alllowed baggage anyway. This is the same as AA, baggage not included unless your gold/platinum.

    they should also offer the same ticket type for business class. I don’t drink alcohol and plane food is rubbish, even in F it’s just reheated crap.

    I pay for the seat, not the food, alcohol and baggage allowance.

    No member give thanks

  • 346

    346

    24 May, 2018 01:28 pm

    I like where this is going!
    No member give thanks

  • Jedi

    Jedi

    25 May, 2018 08:56 am

    Makes me wonder. When you read so much negativity about the "Neil Perry inspired food" that perhaps the amount they are tossing out because people will or cannot eat it is costing QF a lot of money. So lets save money copy the JQ model and you can have a far greater selection at your cost. Or BYO food
    No member give thanks

  • Cool Cat Phil

    Cool Cat Phil

    24 May, 2018 11:50 am

    This QF initiated Survey on evaluating bundle fares on trans-tasman routes has been conducted over the past 3 years. Hopefully, as long as the majority of respondents rate the idea as poor, QF will put this Idea of out to pasture for the time being at least. It has to be said the idea of bundle fares on QF would potentially commence a slippery slope for Economy fare's on Domestic and short haul international sectors.
    No member give thanks

  • stredinnick

    stredinnick

    24 May, 2018 12:19 pm

    The simple choice of chicken, beef or quinoa is time-efficient. When cabin crew have to swipe a card and deal with pax making a paid-for choice it slows service to a crawl. Earlier this week on VA the women beside me ordered some wine and there was a noticeable delay - all those rows behind were left waiting longer. They should look at Virgin America's seat-back order portal - just pick what you want and the crew run it out to you. Also the F&B on VX was great. Not sure what Alaska are running out now.
    No member give thanks

  • xtfer

    xtfer

    24 May, 2018 01:39 pm

    Finally, sensible comment...
    Member who gave thanks

    stredinnick

  • 346

    346

    24 May, 2018 01:49 pm

    The nerve of some people, ordering wine, how selfish.
    No member give thanks

  • stredinnick

    stredinnick

    24 May, 2018 02:16 pm

    I'm certainly not criticising my seat mate's choice or her right to order it, but were it free she'd have the bottle in hand and the crew would be done. Swiping a mobile terminal takes time (although we can marvel at the tech allowing it).
    Member who gave thanks

    Gilflyer

  • cavemanzk

    cavemanzk

    24 May, 2018 05:43 pm

    It's what NZ do - you can only order food and drink via your seat back screen (no cash payments). It is then handled by the crew in the galley, rather than the crew on the trolleys.
    No member give thanks

  • UpUpAndAway

    UpUpAndAway

    24 May, 2018 03:04 pm

    I’m sure it will happen one day, bye bye Qantas hello Jetstar with all those fantasic Jetstar passengers
    No member give thanks

  • Matt

    schuey

    24 May, 2018 03:20 pm

    So if Qantas were to do this then where's the incentive to fly with them instead of another low cost airline? You don't get any additional seat room compared to most Jetstar flights and Qantas food and drink is one of the few distinguishing features. These guys seem to have a LCC state of thinking, led from the top. Full service is well on its way to low service and further cannibalising Qantas market share and margins.

    Member who gave thanks

    JKH

  • Jedi

    Jedi

    25 May, 2018 09:03 am

    "led from the top" does that mean maybe it's time to move AJ on or is there another big bonus check dangling on the Christmas tree.
    Member who gave thanks

    JKH

  • Dr Al

    Dr Al

    24 May, 2018 05:15 pm

    This is a dreadful idea. they may as well just paint a big star over the roo. Qantas prides itself (or at least it used to) on providing a full service. I can't imagine they are going to introduce a fare cheaper than the red e deal so really it looks like just another way to extort more money out of their faithful frequent flyers.
    Member who gave thanks

    JKH

  • Stefan

    Too Technical

    24 May, 2018 08:58 pm

    I think they can get away with doing uncomplimentary checked baggage, it will take down the price by a lot (for people not using checked baggage) while not sacrificing the onboard product, which seems to be what most people care about.
    No member give thanks

  • Traveller5

    Traveller5

    24 May, 2018 09:58 pm

    In a statement to 9NEWS, a Qantas spokesperson said: "

    "Specifically on this question, we have no intention on unbundling our fares. Given we're in the middle of rolling out free Wi-Fi, we are clearly committed to being a full service airline."

    No member give thanks

  • David Henshall

    Red Cee

    24 May, 2018 11:16 pm

    If this proposal is correct, Qantas management clearly have no idea why people choose Qantas. If they want that reduced model, a passenger will choose Jetstar. I for one, should like to complete the survey , it would get the thumbs down in a big way.
    Member who gave thanks

    JKH

  • Jason Hamilton

    JKH

    24 May, 2018 11:51 pm

    On this great race to the bottom Qantas will soon be there with the other bottom feeders such as BA. My loyalty is waning by the day. That Joyce is a right treacherous individual!
    No member give thanks

  • Jason Hamilton

    JKH

    24 May, 2018 11:52 pm

    Greedy red and white rat.
    No member give thanks

  • puppy79

    puppy79

    25 May, 2018 05:41 am

    what a joke.I have been flying them domestically since it was known as TAA and later Australian.in those days they were on all sectors regardless of distance the only ones on all flights to offer inflight audio,the food was pretty decent and the service way better than what we got after the merger almost 25 years ago.what I see here being proposed will not work on anything other than a Trans Tasman,Noumea,Domestic or maybe Bali flights.
    No member give thanks

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21 Mar, 2019 05:25 pm

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