Delta Air Lines is testing a relic of kinder times by bringing back free meals on trans-continental US routes.
The airline is currently testing complimentary meals on flights between New York-JFK and Los Angeles International Airport or San Francisco International Airport as part of what it describes as “a focus on continually looking at ways to enhance the onboard experience’’.
Complimentary meals were once the norm for economy class travellers and still are on many international flights and on domestic services in some parts of the world.
But they disappeared on US carriers, like many previously "free" perks, as fares dropped with increased competition and the arrival of low-cost carriers.
Delta will be testing meals until December 15 and is monitoring customer satisfaction scores to determine their impact and whether it will make them standard on trans-con routes. The move comes after it also started offering free entertainment over summer.
“We are constantly actively listening to our customers and employees, gathering their feedback and testing new products on board to continuously improve the overall experience,” said Delta senior vice president in-flight services Allison Ausband, “Testing meals on Transcon flights is part of our commitment to be thoughtful about our offerings and make decisions based on customers’ needs.”
The meals are hardly sumptuous gourmet spreads: they include the option of a honey maple breakfast sandwich or Luvo breakfast medley on morning flights and an option of mesquite-smoked turkey combo with chips and a brownie bite or Luvo Mediterranean whole grain veggie wrap with grapes and a cookie on afternoon flights.
Delta is not the only airline to be offering passengers something for free as they try to differentiate themselves.
American Airlines announced earlier this year that it would offer free in-flight entertainment brought back complimentary snacks.
United is also offering free snacks on flights within North and Latin America.