The airline industry in the United States has become a game of monkey see, monkey do. Or in actuality, Delta Does, United and American blindly follows. It appears that this is the case today with American Airlines announcement to reintroduce complimentary meals on Transcontinental flights, copying Delta Airlines. After years of charging for meals on flights within North America, airlines are slowly reintroducing free meals in economy class on select flights.
Today’s announcement brings meals to economy class passengers on premium transcontinental flights between New York (JFK) and Los Angeles (LAX) and San Francisco (SFO). The new meal options will be dependent on the time of day. In the morning the airline will serve a continental breakfast and other flights will offer a box meal.
The Main Cabin meals will be available on flights in both directions between Los Angeles and New York, and between San Francisco and 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. The new meal service begins May 1.
The meals will be served on American’s one-of-a-kind A321T fleet. American is the only airline with this dedicated fleet featuring a true international First Class experience on a trans-continental route, with fully lie-flat seats in both First and Business Class.
It is fantastic to see new meal enhancements to American Airlines flight service. In the last couple of years, the airlines are focusing on reinvesting in the flying experience. We have seen airlines add back free movies and free snacks in economy. For me, a free meal is not enough of a reason to fly American Airlines or Delta. Jetblue, Virgin America, and United also compete on transcontinental routes, but do not offer free meals. This announcement does not urge me to pay a premium to fly Delta or AA. If collecting miles was not a factor, and the prices are the same, I may choose AA or Delta knowing I will not have to buy a meal. Yet, I am not entice to pay more to fly AA or Delta for free airplane food.
So far, American Airlines is only choosing two routes for complimentary meals. American Airlines also flies longer transcontinental routes such as Los Angeles to Boston. At this time longer transcon flights will not see complimentary meal service. Delta tested meal service between JFK and LAX/SFO before rolling it out to several transcon routes. Hopefully we will see the same improvements from American Airlines with time. Rohan believes United will also roll out free meals in economy.
Does a free meal in economy make you want to fly American Airlines? Or will you still choose the competition for other reasons?