What can be done when a flight agency charge excess/more price for food during travel? Is it allowed?

flight travel

People travel from place to place using different modes of transport. During the travel there are various types of expenses like lodging, transportation, food, etc. Here we see about high charges on food during flight travel. Where everyone are aware about high charge on products been sold in airports. The main reason behind the high charge on goods is the operational cost in airports. The first flight meal was served in the year 1919, a packed lunch consisting of sandwich and some fruits in it.[i] In flights the food taste may slightly vary. The quantity, quality, costs vary from classes and the length of flight. The airline foods are prepared by specialist airline catering companies, and then follow the guidelines governing the industry. They are well packed in small packets to serve the customers in flight.

Charge for food during travel

In some airlines, the passengers have to pay for food during the travel. In some airlines, the tickets are inclusive of price for the food. As known factor the food is charged high during the travel than the original price. Easyjet, Ryanair, and Monarch do not provide any free airplane food or drinks to the passengers. The British airways, Virgin Atlantic, Singapore airlines provide one meal, snacks, and drinks included in the price of the ticket. Usually the meals consists of meat or fish, vegetables or salad, bread roll, pudding properly packed and placed in plastic tray. Even after paying for the food in the tickets, the passengers can order for food from the menu and pay for it between 30 and 24 hours before your flight.

Classes in flight

Business seats provide quality seasonal dishes prepared by leading chefs, wine is also provided along with food they are given choice of cold meals and snacks. They get full access to the bar during the travel. In first class, meals and snacks are provided by top chefs. They enjoy a complete fine dining experience and full bar service, all are included in the price of the ticket. Full sized salt and pepper shakers, proper crockery, real cutlery, hot towels where the first and business class passengers get to use the things in common.

Offer food alternatives

Airlines provide alternative food for the passengers, who undergo allergies, intolerances, religious belief, and Medical issues – providing food in low calorie/salt/fat, diabetic meals etc, preferences like vegetarian and vegans, special type of food for children. The passengers who are in need for alternative food must inform the airline at least 48 hours before the flight. Some airlines provide special dietary plans to the passengers, they are provided on time during the travel. The food for children are to be provided by some airlines, the passengers are ought to inform the airline to provide food for the child during the travel. It is advised to take proper food for the children in hand luggage with guidelines provided.

Aircraft Rules, 1937

Under Rule 135, every operator of an air transport service operating in regard to all relevant factors, including the cost of operation, reasonable profit and the general prevailing tariff. The operator shall publish the tariff in his website or two daily news papers, shall display such tariff in his office. The people will file the case in consumer court, when they are charged high. The passengers who is vegetarian served food packets containing fish, where the passenger was not given any vegetarian food during the travel by airlines. There was no compensation awarded as the mental agony of the person who had non-vegetarian food cannot be judged.[ii]

The respondent booked a flight from Delhi to Hyderabad. The respondent who boarded the flight around 5:45 a.m. Due to fog, poor visibility, bad weather condition the flight got delayed. No snacks or beverages was provided as appellant was low cost flight. The respondent purchased a sandwich for Rs.100. The flight was cancelled, the passengers were asked to choose the following options (a) the air fare to be refunded, (b) credit for future travel on the airline, (c) to journey on next flight. The next combined flight was also delayed; the passengers demanded for free food. First time they were offered sandwiches and water bottles, second time they were offered chicken sandwiches and water bottles. As the respondent vegetarian, took some biscuits and water bottle. The flight departed at 4:37 p.m. and reached Hyderabad around 7 p.m. The respondent misbehaved with the air hostess when the flight was delayed and they were denied at Hyderabad airport more than an hour. The respondent demanded for compensation for rupees five lakh for the delay of flight resulting in discomfort, mental agony and inconvenience.  As the respondent was diabetic patient was not given proper food, he was in the aircraft around eleven hours. The permanent lok adalat awarded Rs.10000. The appellant filled a writ petition by challenging the permanent lok adalat. The high court dismissed the writ petition.[iii]

National Consumer Helpline (NCH)

Indian civil aviation sector is the massive growing sector in India. Now a day’s people prefer to travel by air to save lot of time in travelling. The government adopted a policy in 1992, where the private carriers enter the field. Enumerable of private carriers entered into the field, which made the passengers to have more choices. The airlines are adding more cities throughout the country. The services provided by the airlines are not adequate. NCH receive a lot of complaints by passengers of different airlines. Loss of baggage, delay in flights, no proper guidance, not providing proper services, etc are frequent complaints. The passenger who faced a dispute over airline has to contact the nodal officer and authority of the airlines for better resolution. The grievances have to be addressed within one month by the airline. The government have provided many Email Id’s for the customers to solve the dispute like SUGAM, which is been set by DGCA to address the difficulties faced by the customers and Airsewa, etc. If all these approaches fail, then the passenger has to approach the consumer forum.[iv] The complaint can also be filed online.[v] The case has to be filed within 2 years from the date of grievance.

Procedure to file a case in consumer court –

  • Get the consumer complaint drafted
  • Attach relevant documents
  • Pay requisite court fees
  • Submit an affidavit[vi]


Cooking in the flight isn’t easy during flight travel, as meals have to be withstand the cooking, cooling. Reheating and it should be tasty and fit for human consumption.[vii] Air France, Austrian Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airways, Thai Airways, Turkish Airlines are some of the meal serving airlines. Yes there is high charge on food during a travel. It can be allowed because the airline serves the food with at most care. The food should be at best quality when served to the customers, they are to be neatly packed, they have to provide alternative food for the required passengers, and they have to follow the strict rules imposed for preparing food during the travel. As the operational cost for preparing the food is high, there can be reasonable charges on food during flight travel.

Edited by Pragash Boopal

Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje


[i] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Airline_meal

[ii]Japan Airlines International v. N.R.Ahuja and Ors.

[iii] M/S Intergloble Aviation Ltd vs. N. Satchidanand

[iv] http://nationalconsumerhelpline.in/Airlines.aspx

[v] https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/wealth/plan/how-to-lodge-a-consumer-complaint-online/articleshow/52373328.cms?from=mdr

[vi] https://vakilsearch.com/advice/filing-a-case-in-consumer-court-in-india/

[vii] https://www.holidayextras.co.uk/travel-blog/before-you-go/airline-meals.html

Shantha Gopika R
I'm Shantha Gopika R pursuing B.com;LLB (Hons) from SASTRA Deemed to be University. My areas of interest are company law, family law and property law. I am a good listener. I like to learn new languages and prefer to do research on various topics. I am fascinated by music and thriller series