It’s conventional wisdom that the glory days of flying disappeared long ago. It used to be that passengers could expect a fine meal when traveling by air. But as deregulation began trimming airline margins, carriers began trimming the quality of airline food. In the 21st century, airline meals almost disappeared altogether — available for purchase sometimes and often times not at all.
But 2017 is seeing a turning of the tides as it relates to dining in the air. Delta Air Lines announced in February that it is adding complimentary main cabin dining on some of its longer domestic flights. American Airlines followed suit, making a similar announcement in March about adding free main cabin meals on its longest North American routes — something more than just food on international flights and in first class.
Is this is a growing trend or just a blip as airlines continue to reduce the number of services they offer and nickel-and-dime passengers for everything from checked bags to shrink-wrapped sandwiches? Only time will tell. But, as you make your travel plans for 2017, here’s a look at what you can expect of airline menus on different carriers.
What to Expect on Your Flight
Of course, different airlines take different approaches to food in flight. You can’t expect much if you’re flying with a discount carrier or even if you’re flying economy with a traditional carrier.
Here’s a look at airline meal options at different levels of service:
Main Cabin: Meals available for purchase on flights of 2 hours or more.
Premium Cabin: Premium passengers will receive a complimentary snack box. Other meals are available for purchase.
Main Cabin: Snacks are available for purchase.
Premium Cabin: Not applicable – Allegiant is an all-coach carrier.
Main Cabin: Starting May 1, American began offering free meals on transcontinental flights between Los Angeles and New York City as well as San Francisco and New York City. Meals are also free on flights to and from Europe, Asia and select Latin American cities. Snacks are available for purchase on all flights more than 2 hours, and light meals are available on all flights more than 3 hours.
Premium Cabin: Complimentary food is served. Snacks may be served on shorter flights, and full meals are available on flights of 2 hours, 45 minutes and longer. You may reserve your meal 30 days in advance up to 24 hours before departure.
Delta Air Lines
Main Cabin: Delta offers complimentary meals on international flights, and you may purchase from its Flight Fuel menu on trips of 900 miles or longer. Starting March 1, Delta also offers free meals on select transcontinental routes.
Premium Cabin: Enjoy snacks only on flights 900 miles and shorter, and get “chef-curated” meal service on flights of 900 miles or more.
Main Cabin: You may buy snacks only on Frontier flights.
Premium Cabin: Not applicable – Frontier is an all-coach carrier.
Main Cabin: Enjoy complimentary snacks. You may purchase an EatUp box on flights of 2 hours or longer, and EatUp Café options are available on select flights.
Premium Cabin: The JetBlue Mint experience includes a meal that features items from a rotating small-plates menu.
Did you hear? JetBlue announced it’s adding artisanal ice cream to the menu in its premium class experience, Mint.
Main Cabin: Southwest offers complimentary snacks on all flights, plus additional snacks on longer flights.
Premium Cabin: Not applicable – Southwest is an all-coach carrier.
Main Cabin: You may purchase food aboard Spirit flights.
Premium Cabin: Not applicable – Spirit is an all-coach carrier.
Main Cabin: United offers snacks and meals for purchase on domestic flights and flights to Mexico and Central America. Enjoy complimentary meal service on international flights to South America and overseas destinations.
Premium Cabin: Enjoy a mix of snacks on flights less than 2 hours, 20 minutes, and get full meal service on longer flights.
Main Cabin: Food is available for purchase and the menu varies based on your destination and length of flight.
Premium Cabin: Enjoy ordering from an “award-winning menu” when you sit in first class with Virgin America.
Let Us Find the Right Accommodations for You
At JTB USA Business Travel, we work to meet our clients’ wide-ranging needs, all while employing our common sense approach to Business Travel. We understand that Business Travel can be taxing, and we strive to ensure that the companies and Travelers we assist arrive feeling relaxed and ready to get the job done upon arrival.
If having an airplane meal is important to you or your Travelers, we do our best to put them in a position to get the accommodations they require.
Contact us today about making sure your Travelers have the best possible experience and that your company gets the most out of its investment in Business Travel.