“Most people won’t shop primarily based on which airline includes a meal, and many won’t pay more to fly one that does,” Kaplan said. But for frequent business travelers who rely on economy flights, “this stuff matters,” he said.
Free airline meals are making a comeback.
Once an industry standard, some airlines began dropping complimentary economy class meals to save money after a decline in sales following the Sept. 11 attacks and recession throughout the late 2000s.
But American Airlines on Tuesday announced the return of free meals in the main cabin on select flights across the United States. It’s not the first airline to bring back the service in recent months.
Here are the airlines that have added free meals on domestic flights throughout the U.S.
The aforementioned airline will offer continental breakfast or boxed meals on select coast-to-coast flights depending on time of day starting May 1. The offering is available both ways on flights between Los Angeles and New York, and between San Francisco and New York. A vegetarian option is available as well.
The Atlanta-based company became the first major airline to revive free coach meals on March 1, for flights in either direction between Los Angeles and New York, and San Francisco and New York.
On April 24, complimentary meal offerings will expand to the following flights: New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport to Seattle, San Diego and Phoenix; between Boston and Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle; Washington D.C.-area’s Reagan Washington National Airport to Los Angeles; and between Seattle and Orlando and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina.
Given its distance from the mainland U.S., a trip to the Aloha State on Hawaiian Airlines will ensure a free meal. Economy class passengers can enjoy a hot ciabatta sandwich, farfalle pasta with marinara or ginger chicken with rice and veggies, according to airline’s website.
Bonus: Could United be in the near future?
United currently only offers free meals on international flights, but the airline is predicted to follow American and Delta’s suit. Seth Kaplan, managing partner of industry newsletter Airline Weekly, told the Associated Press in February that he expected American and United to copy Delta’s move following the latter’s announcement of complimentary meals.