Inflight meals on domestic flights used to be routine. They also weren’t very popular and were the butt of jokes: “Airline food” was considered an oxymoron.
But in the dismal days following 9/11, most airlines eliminated free meals for economy passengers on domestic flights; coach passengers had to bring their own or go hungry. Eventually, the airlines organized food-for-purchase programs of varying quality and, in many cases, iffy availability.
Delta, which has been on something of a mission to lead the pack in service, is bringing back free meals in the main cabin on flights between New York Kennedy and Los Angeles/San Francisco beginning March 1.
On April 24, the airline will expand complimentary meals to 10 other major domestic markets: Boston to San Francisco, Los Angeles and Seattle; Washington National to Los Angeles; New York Kennedy to San Diego, Seattle and Portland, Ore.; and Seattle to Fort Lauderdale, Orlando and Raleigh-Durham.
Delta’s meal options will depend on the time of day of the flight, and the carrier is determined that the selection will not revive the old jokes.
In the morning, customers will be able to choose between a Honey Maple Breakfast Sandwich, Luvo Breakfast Medley or fruit and cheese plate.
During the day, customers will be able to select from a Mesquite-Smoked Turkey Combo, Luvo Mediterranean Whole Grain Veggie Wrap or fruit and cheese plate.
For overnight flights, customers will be offered a breakfast bar during the pre-arrival beverage service.
The menus on all 12 routes will be refreshed often, with a focus on seasonal and locally sourced food and beverages.
Delta tested the transcon meal concept for several weeks last fall and saw a significant increase in customer satisfaction scores.
The meal program is part of Delta's ongoing multimillion-dollar investment in the on-board customer experience. It includes upgraded main cabin snacks, better blankets, refreshed food-for-purchase options and free inflight entertainment.