Comparing On-Board Menus: SAS vs. Ryanair

Posted in: Budget Air Travel

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Ryanair cocktail
Tiny beverage containers sold aboard Ryanair's flights. You might want to double up on that vodka. Photo: shoshie

Recent flights to, from, and around Norway gave me the opportunity to compare the on-board menu offerings of two airlines: one low-cost (Ryanair) and one premium (SAS). Which one would you expect had the best variety of offerings at the lowest price? You may just be surprised by the answer…

Hot Meals

Ryanair offers a number of hot meals, such as cheeseburgers, panini, or sweet and sour chicken, ranging in price from €5-6. Cold sandwiches, cereal and milk, or cup-o-soup options come in between €2 and €4.50.

SAS offers hot or cold sandwiches on select flights for €6. Cup-o-soup runs €3.

Morning flights on SAS in Norway offer free breakfast sandwiches. In Denmark, a similar breakfast menu will cost you €7.

Verdict: Ryanair offers a much greater selection of meals at cheaper prices than SAS. Vegetarians will likely have only one option on either airline.

Snacks

For snackers, Ryanair sells a wide selection of candy bars, granola bars, chips, cookies, crackers, nuts, rice cakes, and even olives, starting at €1 and maxing out at €3.50.

SAS offers a much smaller selection of snacks – crackers, chips, nuts, muffins – for €2-3 per item.

Verdict: Ryanair has your snacking needs fully covered at convenience store prices. You’ll have a hard time finding a better deal in the airport!

Drinks

On, Ryanair, basic spirits (whisky, gin, vodka, and rum) are €5.60, tiny cans of juice or soda are €3-3.50. Beer or cider in normal cans is €5, red or white wine is €6, premixed cocktails €7.50. A hot beverage, such as coffee, tea, or cocoa, costs €3.

SAS offers free coffee and tea on all flights in Norway; the same will cost you €2 on Danish flights. Regular cans of soda are €4. Beer in normal cans is €5, red or white wine is €7. On Danish flights, all beverages are €1 cheaper, and a wider variety of spirits are on offer, with cocktail mixers on special for €6.

Verdict: If free is your number, then SAS Norway is the winner. For alcoholic drinks, SAS Denmark offers the best value. Ryanair’s tiny sizing takes scrimping to the extreme and puts them at a disadvantage in this category.

About the author

Hilary Bown

An academic by training, a writer by day, and a Cheapo by heritage, Hilary Bown's meagre means and insatiable travel appetite have helped her sharpen her "no-budget travel" skills across the European continent over the past decade. At home in Berlin or on an adventure abroad, you'll find her in sandals, riding the bus, reading novels while walking, drinking the local wine, writing out postcards with a felt-tip pen, and browsing the shelves of the supermarket and hardware store. Find her unique blend of travel adventure and tested advice at Less Than a Shoestring.

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2 thoughts on “Comparing On-Board Menus: SAS vs. Ryanair”

  1. Hilary Bown Post authorHilary Bown

    Thank you for your sarcasm!

    If it wasn’t clear from the text, the comparison was of service on short-haul flights for economy customers.

    If you would like to sponsor a series of long-haul business-class flights for me, I am certainly happy to write an article comparing the finer side of travel for you, Lovelock.

    In the meanwhile, it shouldn’t be difficult to quibble over luxury travel advice pretty much everywhere else on the internet! No need to soil this corner with your contempt.

    Reply
  2. The Lovelock Machine

    Quite surprised by this. Flew SAS last week and great to get superb in-flight service, served with such style: Orefors glass, chic cutlery (Georg Jensen, I’d say) and porcelain from Royal Copenhagen. After take off, we were offered champagne then a four course meal service with multiple choices. Okay, I was gutted that the fresh grilled halibut was grabbed by those up-front, but I settled for a nice mousseine of crab with salmon in filo pastry. All accompanied by great wines and premium spirits. I’d recommend the Pouilly Fumé. A lovely sweet Loire wine, a nicely aged Chenin Blanc I guess, was good with the dessert. Aquavit of course. Linie is naturally an in-flight must.

    It was also possible to opt for a lighter and quicker meal service for those who could not take three hours out to enjoy Scandinavian hospitality (shame on them). Drinks, fresh fruit, snacks and sandwiches were available at any time for free from the buffet bar, which also had an espresso machine.

    But a great article here on EuroCheapo. Hadn’t realised RyanAir was quite so good. But now I know. I’ll shun SAS now and try RyanAir. Is this an Irish airline?

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