American brings back free meals on some flights


DALLAS (AP) — American Airlines said Tuesday that it plans to offer free meals to everyone in economy on two cross-country routes starting May 1. 

The decision by the world's biggest airline comes a month after Delta Air Lines announced that it would restore free meals in economy on a dozen long-haul U.S. routes this spring.  

Airlines dropped free sandwiches and other meals in economy on domestic flights after brutal downturns in 2001 and 2008. They have been slow to bring back food despite rising profits, leading to grumbling by some passengers.  

Fares on transcontinental flights can be very similar — five airlines are offering the same $184 price for a one-way nonstop flight from New York to Los Angeles on June 1. So airlines are looking for an edge with touches such as better seats and, now, free food.  

Vice president of marketing Fernand Fernandez said some of American's best customers fly those transcontinental routes and the airline wants to give them better service "in this competitive market."  

It's unclear how far the food trend will go, but airlines can afford a few sandwiches and cheese platters after posting huge profits in recent years due to strong travel demand and cheaper fuel. American Airlines Group Inc. earned $2.7 billion last year.  

American said it will open the kitchen on nonstop flights between New York and both Los Angeles and San Francisco. The airline says that passengers will get a continental breakfast or a sandwich wrap, chips and dessert, or they can pick a vegetarian meal or a fruit-and-cheese plate.  

That leaves United Airlines as the biggest U.S. carrier with no plans yet to bring back free meals in economy on any domestic flights.  

Last month, after Delta's food announcement, United's second-ranking executive suggested that his airline wasn't thinking about adding free meals. On Tuesday a spokesman said United is always looking at opportunities to stay competitive.  

___  

David Koenig can be reached at http://twitter.com/airlinewriter


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Travel

Intrepidly, the Florida Keys are returning to life
Intrepidly, the Florida Keys are returning to life

A month after Hurricane Irma whipped its ferocious winds across the Florida Keys, a pearl-like strand of subtropical islands with an ecosystem unique in North America, much of the once pristine landscape remains littered with the wreckage the storm left behind.  Tourism, normally a $1.6 billion-a-year industry that employs about half the Keys&rsquo...
In Wisconsin, visitors can literally dip their toes into the cranberry harvest
In Wisconsin, visitors can literally dip their toes into the cranberry harvest

It's gray and raining and about 65 degrees, but more than 70 people are lined up in a field in central Wisconsin, undeterred by the gloom - or the wait. Their eyes are fixed on a lagoon that's pink with thousands of floating baubles: cranberries.  In the Badger State, late September to late October is cranberry season, and hundreds of devotees...
Romantic Sorrento and the Isle of Capri
Romantic Sorrento and the Isle of Capri

Serene Sorrento, wedged on a ledge under the mountains and over the sea, is a great springboard for sightseeing along Italy’s Amalfi Coast. Just an hour south of wild and crazy Naples, calm and genteel Sorrento makes an ideal home base for day-tripping around the region (Pompeii, Positano and Capri are well within reach). And every night, you...
Love festivals? Consider Alabama
Love festivals? Consider Alabama

A merry few thousand of us at last fall’s Oyster Cook Off and Craft Beer Weekend were, appropriately enough, drinking beer and eating oysters. Nobody got unruly, music emanated from a stage, and the sun was shining in a harmless, 80-degree way. As an Austinite from the land of festivals, I was pleased to find here, on the white-sand Gulf of Mexico...
In Belize, scuba diving with sharks and a whole lot more
In Belize, scuba diving with sharks and a whole lot more

What kind of Year of Adventure doesn’t include swimming with sharks? Not mine, that’s for sure. At the moment, I’m kicking along a reef at Half Moon Caye off the coast of Belize. Our small group of scuba divers has caught the attention of two or three blacktip reef sharks that are making close passes, 5- or 6-foot “men in gray...
More Stories