There’s No ‘Free’ Lunch at 40,000 Feet, Either
Back in 2010, Continental Airlines was the last carrier standing, offering passengers in cattle class a free snack while rivals, desperate to cut costs, had begun to charge for that cheeseburger. Then it too succumbed, and travelers began to incorporate the pre-gate sandwich purchase into their itinerary.
Seven years later, financially robust airlines are starting to sniff around the idea of returning “free” food to the masses. This spring, Delta Air Lines Inc. plans to serve a complimentary meal on longer, mostly trans-continental routes. Options will include fruit-and-cheese plates, a breakfast sandwich, and wraps.
Delta already offers free alcoholic beverages on domestic flights for those who sit in its roomier “Comfort Plus” cabin. One can also stream movies and TV shows—Delta wants you to know these are also free, just like the free video now available on Alaska, United, American, Southwest, and other carriers equipped with in-cabin Wi-Fi. Delta tested the economy meal service for six weeks late last year on flights between New York-JFK and Los Angeles and San Francisco. Not surprisingly, the airline found that satisfaction scores rose on those flights.
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