What makes an airline choose Lorna Doones as a long haul-only snack?
September 11, 2016 3:12 PM   Subscribe

A few years ago, on a plane flight, I looked at the list of free snacks -- potato chips, cookies, etc. Next to one (and only one) item (the Lorna Doone cookies), I saw the annotation: "long haul flights only". What (probably) are their criteria for this choice, and what makes Lorna Doones a good choice for this distinction?
posted by brainwane to Travel & Transportation (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
My guess is that there's not as much demand for them, especially on smaller planes. When you decide which perishable goods to stock, you have to be pretty sure of enough demand that you won't be throwing a bunch of it away. Big planes are generally on longer flights, and there are multiple snack opportunities on each flight.
posted by SMPA at 3:21 PM on September 11, 2016 [3 favorites]

It's possible they're relatively expensive compared to the other snacks so only the high-paying long haul passengers get such an indulgent treat.
posted by GuyZero at 4:58 PM on September 11, 2016 [2 favorites]

IIRC, Lorna Doones are crumbly and fragile so probably require more space to safely store than your super-hard Oreo thins or tiny, sturdy Ritz Minis. Long haul flights might have extra space designated for food.
posted by kimberussell at 5:13 PM on September 11, 2016

There may be absolutely nothing particular about them, just that they have less snack choices on some flights.
posted by bongo_x at 5:43 PM on September 11, 2016

That's basically it. There just isn't much reason to stock a lot of options on short flights. On a one-hour flight, you'll generally only get one service lass through the cabin, half the people won't want anything, and if there's turbulence, they might not even get to serve snacks or drinks. Meanwhile, stocking more items increases the time the plane is on the ground. Even if it's only a minute to pick a box of cookies off a cart and put them on a shelf, that's one more minute that the plane isn't sitting on the ground (not making any money), and one less minute of delays.

For a long-haul flight, you'll have more service passes, more people will want something, they'll not want the same thing, and the plane is already on the ground while it loads up on fuel, so it makes more sense.
posted by kevinbelt at 6:38 PM on September 11, 2016

I think of them as one of the fancier snack options (and probably more expensive), so it would make sense to only offer them on the smallest number of flights.
posted by MsMolly at 8:10 PM on September 11, 2016

Once, American Airlines gave me a bagged lunch. I had asked for a vegetarian meal.

I got:

-- a stale bagel, sliced in two
-- a tiny packet of lemon-flavoured rice wine vinegar (not a dressing, just flavoured vinegar)
-- two rather thick but uneven slabs of quite raw zucchini
-- a pseudo-health-food "cookie"

Horrible. Presumably they tried to accommodate every single special diet request around in one sack of misery, but, still, who came up with that, and how did they think it could be palatable? I have bought take-away while very drunk many times and never ended up with a nightmare bag like that. I was a well-tended-to child and my school lunches contained things like tomato slices in a separate baggie so they wouldn't sog my bread, salt in a wee bit of foil, etc. Charities distributing bags like that to the hungry would be chased out of everywhere save for the worst hellholes on earth.

Anyway. The cookie was "R.W. Frookie" brand, which was briefly hawked in the 90s as a "healthy" cookie because it was sweetened with fruit juice. Of course we know better now, and stick to cookies that taste good.

All around me people opened bags with normal sandwiches and -- the insult! the indignity! -- bags of delicious Pepperidge Farm cookies.

I scratched my head over this for quite a while until I realised the Pepperidge Farms were probably real cookies with butter and eggs, fine for vegetarians but not vegans, and the "Frookie" probably used some cheap vegetable oil and applesauce and a little road tar to gum it all together. (I pleaded with a stewardess for an errant bag of peanuts, the proper cookies from a leftover lunch, something, anything; no dice. American, if you're reading this, you still owe me an actual damned meal.)

So I wonder, now that I'm re-living that 1990s nightmare, if there were important varying ingredients between cookies, or kosher/not kosher status, etc, with the Lorna Doones, and on short-haul flights us picky sorts would have been told "Sorry, we have what we have," but restrictions were accommodated on long-haul flights?
posted by kmennie at 12:00 AM on September 12, 2016 [3 favorites]

When it comes to brand-name snacks, it rarely comes down to someone at an airline (or fast food company, or movie chain) choosing. Generally someone at the brand wants more prominence for their product and makes a deal with the airline (or more often, both are clients of the same advertising agency and the agency starts the conversation). So you'll suddenly get a brand or flavor you never heard of, largely because it's a free trial opportunity for the cookie, and a less expensive option for the airline (or even a money-making opportunity, as some brands will pay for that level of exposure).

If you're only seeing Lorna Doones on long flights, it could be what others are saying about desirability or how easy they are to pack. But it's more likely that people who go on long-haul flights are also demographically more likely to have the desire for Lorna Doones (more expendable income, more likelihood not to see shortbread as exotic and therefore be open to a commercial alternative, or more willingness to try new things, for example). Chances are, someone did that math and at Nabisco and is only providing cookies for the people they expect to benefit from serving them.
posted by Mchelly at 3:41 AM on September 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

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