Free Meals Make a Comeback on Domestic Flights

AirlinesNews

free airline meals

American Airlines has proclaimed it will begin offering free meals for economy passengers on certain U.S. flights, sending a ripple of joy through budget-minded flyers everywhere.

It wasn’t that long ago—just 15 years or so—that U.S. airlines routinely delivered free food. Indeed, airlines have a long and storied history of providing full meals to customers.

Then, to cut costs, they eliminated free meals and, in some cases, the salty snack. So maybe this is big news. When you’ve been hungry so long, even a morsel widens the pupils.

In any case, free meals are making a comeback. American’s decision follows Delta Air Lines’ move in March to add free food on certain routes. (Can United be far behind?) In the case of both carriers, “certain routes” means long flights—specifically, coast-to-coast.

So what do you get?

The answer depends on what time of the day you’re flying. American provided a peek at its new menu of freebies, which will begin to be served to travelers on May 1.

It ain’t first-class, as they say, but it looks pretty good.

For breakfast, American has assembled the triple-threat of yogurt, granola and bagel with cream cheese and jam. For lunch and dinner, passengers will be offered a veggie or chicken wrap, potato chips and a brownie.

We also checked to see what’s cookin’ at Delta.

Delta relaunched the free meal trend after performing trial runs on its passengers in economy. Its research found that well-fed passengers are happier passengers.

Delta is big on options. For the morning meal, customers choose from a breakfast sandwich, breakfast medley, or fruit and cheese plate. For lunch and dinner, customers get their pick of the turkey combo, veggie wrap, or fruit and cheese plate.

But, really, these two restaurants—that is to say, airlines—dish up some of the best and only free meals around. And as long as free meals make flyers happy, we’re all for it—particularly when the aroma of slow braised lamb Osso Buco wafts down the aisle from first-class.