When Delta announced last month it would offer free meals in the main cabin on transcontinental flights, it was probably just a matter of time until its rival started to respond – and American Airlines is the first to do so, although on a limited basis.
American said this week that on May 1, it will also begin handing out free meals in coach – but only on two routes.
The policy change affects passengers flying American’s special transcon A321Ts between San Francisco-New York and Los Angeles-New York.
“Depending on the time of day, customers will be offered a continental breakfast or a boxed meal with a sandwich wrap, kettle chips and dessert. The menu also includes a vegetarian option and a fruit and cheese plate,” American said.
Delta’s free main cabin meals started earlier this month on the JFK-LAX and JFK-SFO routes, and will be extended as of April 24 to 10 more transcon routes, including 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. (Sorry, Atlanta, you are not included in the freebies.)
Even though American’s competitive response to Delta’s initiative is relatively muted, it still puts more pressure on other transcon carriers to match or beat the free coach meals. United, JetBlue and Alaska Airlines’ Virgin America unit all charge for anything more filling than snacks in the main cabin on their coast-to-coast routes.
For example, JetBlue has a service in its main cabin called the EatUp Café on LAX/SFO-area routes from Boston, New York and Ft. Lauderdale, offering sandwiches, salads, cheese plates and such for prices ranging from $4 to $12.
Would you rather pay for a high quality meal, or get a free one that’s just okay? Please leave your comments below.
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