Delta’s announcement of free meals in economy class could set off a new round of in-flight service competition on lucrative transcontinental routes.
After market-testing the concept last year on some flights, Delta said this week it will start offering free meals in the main cabin on a dozen key transcontinental routes over the next two months. Delta said this will make it ”the only U.S. carrier to offer complimentary fresh meals from nose to tail on select coast-to-coast routes.”
Given the level of competition – and the profitability – on transcon routes, Delta’s revival of free meals could spur its rivals to match the offer, or try to outdo it.
Delta said the free Main Cabin meal service will begin March 1 on routes between New York JFK-San Francisco and JFK-Los Angeles. Then on April 24 it will extend the service to routes from JFK to Portland, San Diego and Seattle; Boston to San Francisco, LAX and Seattle; Seattle to Ft. Lauderdale, Orlando and Raleigh-Durham; and Washington Reagan National to LAX.
The offer of free meals in the Main Cabin will also be extended to passengers traveling on bare-bones Basic Economy fares, a Delta representative tells TravelSkills.
The meals will vary by time of day. Morning flights will serve up three options – a honey maple breakfast sandwich, Luvo breakfast medley or fruit and cheese plate. On flights later in the day, passengers can select from a mesquite-smoked turkey combo, Luvo whole-grain veggie wrap, or fruit and cheese plate. On overnight flights, the airline will offer a breakfast bar during pre-arrival beverage service.
Besides the Main Cabin meal service, those in Comfort+ seats on the affected routes will also get a pre-arrival snack basket along with free alcoholic beverages; and on JFK-SFO/LAX routes they’ll also get a Greek frozen yogurt bar.
Delta said the meal offerings on all 12 routes will be “refreshed often to support the airline’s focus on offering innovative, seasonal and locally-sourced food and beverages.”
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