Road Warrior

Fliers Willing to Buy Hot Meal in Coach: Survey

Nancy Trejos, USA Today
Photo by Darren Booth for

Here's one airline fee travelers can apparently stomach.

According to a new poll by, which tracks airfares and industry trends, many travelers would pay for a hot, in-flight meal.

Out of 1,221 people polled, 53 percent said they would pay a fee for a hot meal. The rest said "no way."

U.S. airlines have stopped serving hot meals in coach on most domestic flights. The new model has been to offer passengers snacks for sale.

Increasingly, airlines have been charging fees for everything from boarding early to choosing seats. Passengers have complained about being charged fees at every point in the traveling process. (Read more: Add-On Airline Fees: Good or Bad?)

But a fee for a hot meal is one many would be willing to dish out.

"It's pretty amazing that more than half of respondents would pay extra for a meal," said president George Hobica. "Do people really like airline food, the butt of countless jokes, that much? Or are we just feeling nostalgic for the good old days."

How much travelers would be willing to pay varies. According to the poll, 29 percent said they'd pay $5, 19 percent said they'd pay $10, 5 percent said they'd pay $15, and 3 percent would pay as much as $20.

"Personally, I miss the days when you'd get a real meal on an airplane, with those little plastic dishes filled with various treats — a little salad in one compartment, some cheese wrapped in foil, a warm entree, and a gooey dessert, perhaps a mint," Hobica said. "Remember this?"

Some airlines are hoping travelers do and are starting to sell "premium" meals in economy class. US Airways, for instance, last year introduced a premium meal for $19.99 on international flights. There is a chicken and vegetarian option. Both meals come with a glass of wine. (Read more: Would You Pay $20 for a First-Class Meal in Coach?)

Today in the Sky tried both meals on a flight to Lisbon last year. The food was definitely an improvement from the regular meal in coach. The only drawback: It wasn't hot.