This shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. Late last year Delta ran a test where they served free meals in economy on select transcon flights. I guess the feedback was positive, as in early February they announced that they’d introduce free meals on flights between New York and Los Angeles/San Francisco as of March 1, 2017.
But it gets better than that. A week later they announced that they’d expand free meals to a further 10 domestic transcon routes as of April 24, 2017, meaning that Delta will serve free meals on a dozen transcon routes.
Well, this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise given how competitive the airline industry is, but American is following Delta’s lead. American will be introducing free meals on flights between New York and Los Angeles/San Francisco as of May 1, 2017. Per the press release:
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 beginsMay 1 .
“Some of our best customers fly our trans-continental routes and we want to give them a top-notch onboard experience,” said Fernand Fernandez, vice president – Global Marketing. “Providing complimentary meals in the Main Cabin is yet another step we’re taking to enhance our service in this competitive market.”
It is interesting that American is only partially matching Delta here. I wonder if we’ll eventually see American match Delta in introducing free meals in economy in other transcon markets as well.
This is of course great news, but I’m not sure I follow the airlines’ logic. As I said in the post on Delta adding free meals:
Sure, it’s nice for airlines to add services, though I’m not totally sure I get their thought process here. Does Delta think people will select them over a competitor because of this? Do they think they can command a price premium for offering free meals? Won’t the inconsistency confuse people, given that free meals won’t be available on all transcons? And if American and United match (as we’ve seen the legacy carriers do over and over), won’t they all just come out behind?
View from the Wing and Live and Let’s Fly recently had an interesting discussion about this — Gary argued that free meals in economy can contribute to airline profits, while Matthew argued that they cut profits. My perspective on this is the same as Matthew’s. Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled to see airlines improving service, but am surprised to see this, and wonder what they’re trying to get out of this.
Are you surprised to see American match Delta? Do you think United will match as well?