American bringing free meals back to coach

seat in frontIn the age of airline cost cutting, coach passengers have gotten used to bringing their own food when they fly. Post-merger, American Airlines has started to serve cookies or pretzels in coach for most flights, a nice touch but not exactly substantial for longer trips.

Last year Delta ran a pilot testing meals in coach for trans-continental flights. Not surprisingly, feedback was very positive, and as a result they have brought meals to certain long-haul routes with more coming this month.

American has announced they will be following suit starting in May, offering meals on two of its most popular routes: New York to LA and New York to San Francisco. Customers will receive either a continental breakfast or a box lunch, and there will also be a vegetarian option and cheese plate.

I think this is great, and I’m betting I’m not the only one. I’m perfectly happy to stop and get something tasty on my way to the gate, but it’s not always possible with short connection times. Plus, six hours seems like a long time to provide food for oneself! Finally, as a business traveler it’s not a hardship to pay for food but I think this will be a nice break for budget travelers. I think airplane food has come a long way (especially those cheese trays!), although it wouldn’t be a shocker if quality declines once it’s free.

Since Delta has expanded to include more routes, I wouldn’t be surprised if American does too. And how long until United starts?

Readers, what do you think about having free meals back in coach?


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  1. I think they should bring back free meal service on any flight over 1,000 miles. Meal service really serves a couple of functions: Sustenance and distraction. Hungry people are cranky people, so feeding them makes for a better feeling overall, at a pretty low cost. Also, Economy is flat out awful these days, what with knee bruising seats and painfully high load factors. Distracting someone from their experience with a meal certainly can’t hurt. It’s the same premise that airlines use when they announce an even worse seating configuration, but now with individual IFE.

  2. The title says one thing but the detail says something different. They are matching a competitor (Delta) on a couple of routes. They are not bringing meals back to domestic coach system wide.

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