EXPOSED: airlines cashing in on incredible in-flight food mark-ups

EXPOSED: airlines cashing in on incredible in-flight food mark-ups

Travellers paying over the odds to get snacks on board planes.

Ruth Jackson

Motoring and Travel

Ruth Jackson
Updated on 3 March 2016

Most of us know that when you buy snacks on a plane you are going to be charged a little more than at your local supermarket. But the reality is that the price difference is sky-high.

You could be paying almost 2,000% more for food on a plane than you would pay if you bought it on the ground, according to research by

One of the worst things to buy is a Cup-a-Soup. While a soup sachet can cost as little as 12p at the supermarket, Thomas Cook Airlines charges £2.40 – a mark-up of a staggering 1,900%. Meanwhile Flybe charges £2.50 for 70g of soup; that’s 1,983% more than if you bought the same brand at the supermarket.

You’ll be stung for a sweet tooth

If you want to keep your holiday costs down, you’d also do well to avoid buying any sweet treats on the plane.

Some airlines will charge you £1 for just 28g of shortbread. That works out at a whopping £3.57 for 100g, but you could buy 100g for 26p at the supermarket.

Chocolate bars are routinely marked up massively with airlines charging £1.56 for a 25p chocolate bar. Ryanair also charges £2.34 for a 160g bag of gummy sweets, which would cost you just 77p at the supermarket.

Sky-high drink prices

It isn’t just food that airlines charge rip-off prices for. Drinks are also subject to huge mark-ups.

A 250ml bottle of orange juice can cost you as much as £2.70 on an airline, compared to just 65p a litre at the supermarket.

The biggest mark-ups

Here are the products found to have the biggest mark-ups on flights, according to Kayak.



Airline price

Supermarket price


Still water


£2.34  for 500ml

16p for 500ml




£1.30 for 40g

24p for 100g




£1.80 for 65g

22p for 100g









£1.60 for 40g

50p for 100g


How to avoid the rip-off

There is no reason to pay these extortionate prices for your in-flight food.

While the liquids you can take on a plane are controlled you are allowed to take food through airport security. On a recent long-haul flight, I packed two homemade sandwiches, a bunch of grapes, chocolate biscuits and a net of mini cheeses to keep me going inflight. Airport security didn’t bat an eyelid.

“Airlines are providing a service when it comes to food and drink on board, which accounts for some of the mark-up we see. However, travellers are allowed to take food items through security, so it really makes sense to plan ahead and take your own snacks onto the plane,” says Loella Pehrsson, Kayak’s regional director.

Saving on drinks is trickier, but can be done.

“When it comes to drinks, get around the sky-high in-flight prices by purchasing drinks in the terminal after you’ve been through security and taking these on the flight with you too,” says Pehrsson.

Photocredit: withGod /

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