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Chefs being removed off Capitol Limited


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#41 Anderson

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Posted 30 March 2018 - 11:51 AM

A report a few years ago on the cost of food service for Domestic First Class showed the average Dinner cost the airlines over $100 per passenger.  The airline catering companies still charge those same rates or even higher.  A flight with 16 first class seats pays out over $1600 for meals up front.  In Coach meals for purchase, i have not seen a report of the cost verses revenue.  I do know that when a full meal was served the airlines paid approximately $35 per passenger.  So cutting meals saved each flight $3500 or more depending on the number of passengers.  The number of flight attendants is based on safety standards based on the number of passengers so eliminating food service did not save anything in wages.  So if Anderson is looking at Amtrak with airline glasses, he sees the Dining Car as unnecessary.  Just have the SCA bring the heat and serve meal to each room at meal time.  Let the Coach passengers purchase Cafe items from the Lounge, therefore the DC can be eliminated totally.

This reeks of some mixture of bad contract negotiation or poor cost control on the part of the airlines.

It also ignores the fact that on Amtrak something like 40-50% of the diner meals are sold to coach passengers (with some variability based on capacity, etc.; sleeper pax have to be served, so if there's a constrained mealtime such as dinner out of LA on the Chief then the sleeper share is going to go up by default)...but then again, Amtrak management seems to be continally caught off guard by this given the fact that any time this comes up in a report, there is somehow a tone of surprise at it.  Practically speaking, a respectable share of your long-haul coach pax are going to buy one or two meals in the diner if space is available; two or three days on cafe food is simply not a workable proposition for more than a few folks (even if they can't afford a sleeping car).


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#42 jis

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Posted 30 March 2018 - 12:06 PM

Back in the days when meals were not included in Sleeper tickets, I used to get at least one, and occasionally two meals in the Diner. I don't recall ever having had three Diner meals in a day.



#43 Philly Amtrak Fan

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Posted 30 March 2018 - 12:19 PM

 

Practically speaking, a respectable share of your long-haul coach pax are going to buy one or two meals in the diner if space is available; two or three days on cafe food is simply not a workable proposition for more than a few folks (even if they can't afford a sleeping car).

 

 

I've done it before. Of course I'm not most people. Then again the alternative is $25 Amtrak steaks. I believe the last time I went to Texas I did buy an Amtrak diner breakfast on the TE.

 

What's the progress of the "at your seat" meals? I remember seeing them on the SWC a few years back. Maybe they are the middle ground between all cafe food and a chef although I'm sure we'll still have CCC's for the most part.


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#44 crescent-zephyr

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Posted 30 March 2018 - 01:18 PM

 
I've done it before. Of course I'm not most people. Then again the alternative is $25 Amtrak steaks. I believe the last time I went to Texas I did buy an Amtrak diner breakfast on the TE.
 .


Well not really... You can have dinner in the diner for a pretty reasonable price. $12.50 for a burger and chips isn't bad and a cup of ice water is free. I would much rather have that than a cafe car "meal."

*ive never seen passengers denied a burger at dinner, but with amtrak anything is possible.

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#45 jis

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Posted 30 March 2018 - 01:19 PM

For at your seat meals, the method of delivery becomes an issue. Either you have the passengers themselves go to the food service car and pick up their more elaborate food and bring them to their seats or you have it delivered to their seats.

 

The former arguably is similar to what happens now in the Cafe Car, only that lines may become even longer sicne the prep time for more elaborate stuff would be longer.

 

The latter has additional labor cost, unless the Coach attendants can be enough to provide some kind of a trolley service in the Coach. The latter is quite feasible as has been demonstrated in many other railroads, and in Amtrak Acelas. but typically it does require more than one coach attendant on an average to provide anything resembling satisfactory service. So there is additional cost of labor involved.

 

Airlines typically have something like 6 for 200-250 passengers on light food service flights. More if there is more elaborate food service or premium heavy flights. That would translate to something like 6 per 3 standard Coaches or 4 LD Coaches (single level)



#46 Lonestar648

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Posted 30 March 2018 - 01:50 PM

The Amtrak Coach at your seat dinner meals were served on a couple of the western trains I took in 2017.  The Coach Attendant boxed the meal downstairs for each passenger, then carried bags of several boxes back to the coaches.  I don't know how payment was handled or how many meals were delivered.  



#47 crescent-zephyr

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Posted 30 March 2018 - 01:50 PM

The at-seat coach service is supposed to be served by the coach attendant. It's literally a boxed meal and a bottle of water. It seems very reasonable that currently staffed coach attendants can handle that.

Part of the coach attendants job already is to serve passengers who need special assistance from both the lounge and/ or the diner.

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#48 Lonestar648

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Posted 30 March 2018 - 02:04 PM

"BUT HOW MUCH DOES A MEAL ACTUALLY COST THE AIRLINE?

The costs for economy meals average around $25 and business class meals more like $50. First class meals are much harder to classify, but our estimate of $110 is a safe bet for first class on US domestic airlines with foreign airlines being more. Note that these costs are without the costs of the staff serving the food and drinks, or any overhead. (Business Insider@2013)"

 

You can see why the current Amtrak CEO didn't want to serve full tray meals to Coach passengers and why full leaf lettuce was cut out on First Class meals to save several million dollars.



#49 jis

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Posted 30 March 2018 - 02:27 PM

I bet a lot of that $110 is the free booze, considering how many people seem to drink like a fish each time I have been in First Class. ;)

 

I find it quite hard to believe that the food served on Domestic legs in F in the US costs $110 for just the food, including the full leaf lettuce, which BTW they still do serve. The excerpt is strangely worded since no foregin airline is really allowed to serve a US domestic leg (Cabotage is illegal in the US), and notwithstanding the popular belief in the US, all foreign airlines are not really better than the US airlines international service either.

 

It would be quite revealing to see a breakdown of the alleged cost.



#50 Trogdor

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Posted 30 March 2018 - 02:33 PM

Is there a link to that citation?

 

And does the citation itself have citations for where they got the data?  I find those numbers extremely hard to believe, especially given that current buy-on-board food is very similar to (if not better than) what was provided in the past for free, and you can get a decent bite to eat in economy for around $15 (US domestic), maybe $20 if you add alcohol, and airlines wouldn't be intentionally pricing that stuff at a loss.

 

If the cost of a meal (excluding alcohol) in domestic first class exceeded $10 per person, I'd be shocked.


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#51 jis

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Posted 30 March 2018 - 02:35 PM

Yeah I don't really believe any of the numbers quoted in that article without further backup material


Edited by jis, 30 March 2018 - 03:54 PM.


#52 dlagrua

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Posted 30 March 2018 - 02:45 PM

Yeah I don;t really believe any of the numbers quoted in that article without further backup material


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#53 Dakota 400

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Posted 30 March 2018 - 03:08 PM

The cost to airlines for a domestic First Class meal is $100?  I don't believe that!  I have yet to have any airline meal in domestic First Class (on Delta, incidentally) or international Business Class that was worth $100.  And, that includes dinner and breakfast on a long distance Singapore Airlines flight where their meals are supposed to be the best or at least among the best of the international carriers.



#54 crescent-zephyr

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Posted 30 March 2018 - 03:29 PM

I can't comfirm or deny any of the costs, but it seems reasonable.

The food has to be ordered and stocked by a commisary that has to deliver the food to the airport? Then the food has to be loaded onto the plane by specialty employees... Then excess food is unloaded and returned to a commisary.

That's alot of steps for each flight (or set of flights..) Way more than a restaurant getting an order from Sysco once or twice a week and storing it in a big walk in till its needed.

Edited by crescent-zephyr, 30 March 2018 - 03:30 PM.

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#55 Trogdor

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Posted 30 March 2018 - 03:46 PM

I can't comfirm or deny any of the costs, but it seems reasonable.

The food has to be ordered and stocked by a commisary that has to deliver the food to the airport? Then the food has to be loaded onto the plane by specialty employees... Then excess food is unloaded and returned to a commisary.

That's alot of steps for each flight (or set of flights..) Way more than a restaurant getting an order from Sysco once or twice a week and storing it in a big walk in till its needed.

 

 

Often the commissaries are at or very close to the airport.  Airlines order in bulk (prepare the same meal 1,000 times), and there's not necessarily anything special about these "specialty employees" (a quick Google search tells me that at LSG Sky Chefs, an "assembler" makes $10.40/hr, and supervisors make under $50,000 per year).  While I don't doubt the cost of providing a meal on an airline is higher than that equivalent meal at a ground-based restaurant, it's also true that you don't get equivalent meals to ground-based restaurants (they're really only a couple steps above a TV dinner).

 

I still say, if the all-in cost per meal was north of $10, I'd be very surprised.


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#56 cpotisch

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Posted 30 March 2018 - 03:57 PM

I can't comfirm or deny any of the costs, but it seems reasonable.

The food has to be ordered and stocked by a commisary that has to deliver the food to the airport? Then the food has to be loaded onto the plane by specialty employees... Then excess food is unloaded and returned to a commisary.

That's alot of steps for each flight (or set of flights..) Way more than a restaurant getting an order from Sysco once or twice a week and storing it in a big walk in till its needed.

Yes, but at the scale the airlines and commissaries are operating, those costs and overhead probably work out to be relatively negligible. And FC meals are probably ordered from the same places as the rest of the food, which further divides up the costs. On a 400 passenger flight, delivery costs would have to be pretty astronomical to average anything like $100 per person.

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#57 Devil's Advocate

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Posted 30 March 2018 - 05:03 PM

Notwithstanding the popular belief in the US, all foreign airlines are not really better than the US airlines international service either.

 

Americans are keenly aware that our airline service standards have devolved into sharp tongues and indifferent lip service (well, most of us anyway) but that doesn't mean we believe every dumpy foreign outfit is always better. Virtually any airline south of the US border is or anywhere in Africa is generally assumed to be substantially worse than the domestic carriers.  It's true that many of us believe the best foreign airlines are indeed better than most/all US airlines, but that view isn't only held by US citizens; a majority of airline rating respondents, travel journalists, and globetrotting bloggers agree with us.


Edited by Devil's Advocate, 30 March 2018 - 05:13 PM.

.


#58 jis

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Posted 30 March 2018 - 05:11 PM

 

Notwithstanding the popular belief in the US, all foreign airlines are not really better than the US airlines international service either.

 

Americans are keenly aware that our airline service standards have devolved into sharp tongues and indifferent lip service (well, most of us anyway) but that doesn't mean we believe every dumpy foreign outfit is always better. Virtually any airline south of the US border is or anywhere in Africa is generally assumed to be substantially worse than the domestic carriers.  It's true that many of us believe the best foreign airlines are indeed better than most/all US airlines, but that view isn't only held by US citizens; a majority of airline rating respondents, travel journalists, and globetrotting bloggers agree with us.

 

Absolutely. There are about a dozen outstanding airlines, most of which are undoubtedly better than the US3. Beyond that things get pretty spotty.



#59 spinnaker

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Posted 30 March 2018 - 06:24 PM

I can't comfirm or deny any of the costs, but it seems reasonable.

The food has to be ordered and stocked by a commisary that has to deliver the food to the airport? Then the food has to be loaded onto the plane by specialty employees... Then excess food is unloaded and returned to a commisary.

That's alot of steps for each flight (or set of flights..) Way more than a restaurant getting an order from Sysco once or twice a week and storing it in a big walk in till its needed.

 

 

If they base the cost of that the way they charge  to transport my bicycle, I can see how they can come up with that number.  ;)    My bicycle and I combined probably weigh less than some Americans alone.   Yet I can pay $150 plus each way to transport the bike.   Of course part of that is for "special employees"   to  load the bike. ;)  Like the time a "special employee"  put my bike on the luggage belt and it came tumbling down on to the carousel. . ;)


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#60 Palmland

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Posted 30 March 2018 - 06:55 PM

Is there any confirmation that the Capitol is losing it’s chefs? Unless I missed it, seems it’s just hearsay from an Amtrak employee.




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