Airlines bring back most meal options on board before Covid: Travel Weekly

With planes crowded again, US airlines have mostly resumed on-board food and beverage offerings that brought them down during the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, some cuts are still in place, either as cost-saving measures or due to supply chain challenges.

On June 1, United became the latest US airline to carry out a major reintroduction of its in-flight food and beverage operations when it brought back hot meals in First Class on major airline flights of more than 800 miles, replacing the packaged sandwich it had been serving during the flight. pandemic. On the same day, the carrier also resumed cold meals on trays for United First customers on regional flights. On international flights, June 1 came with the resumption of service for three-course meals in Polaris’ business class cabin on long-haul flights with United.

The other full-service airlines had largely defeated United. Delta resumed hot meal service in domestic first class in March after the American did the same on domestic flights of more than three and a half hours in February. Alaska was way ahead of both by reintroducing local hot meals to first-class customers last July. JetBlue renewed meal service in its full-service Mint cabins last November, when it resumed taking orders orally during the flight.

Multi-course meals like this one, which included a main course of beef steak, twice-baked potatoes, baby spinach and roasted pumpkin, resumed in American Long Business Class. Image source: TW photo by Robert Silk

American and Delta have also resumed three-cycle service in the Flagship and Delta One international business categories.

The story of the local economy cabins is somewhat more complicated, although all major US airlines, including Southwest, have resumed standard free snack service as well as alcohol sales.

However, American Restaurant has not brought back the menu for wider sale in the main cabins.

“At the moment it’s Pringles and almonds along with liquor,” spokeswoman Lea Robertino said, adding that no timeline had been set for a broader resumption.

Delta has returned most of its main cabin items for sale, including an assortment of snack boxes on flights of 900 miles or more containing items like beef jerky and ghirardelli chocolate.

A company spokeswoman said the carrier will be announcing more main cabin offerings soon.

United has a variety of snacks and snack boxes for purchase on flights of more than 500 miles, and on flights of more than 1,500 miles, the carrier offers more essentials, including chia seed pudding during the breakfast hours and barbecue burgers for afternoon and evening flights. .

Alaska said it was the first US airline to reintroduce fresh foods and snacks for purchase in the main cabin and, unlike some competitors, offers meals on flights of up to two hours in length.

“Unique from other airlines, our food and beverage offerings have developed a following, specifically the signature fruit and cheese platter,” the carrier said.

Spokesman Philip Stewart said JetBlue has resumed all services on board. This includes a selection of beer, wine and liquor for purchase as well as snack boxes and fresh food options that include a cheese plate, Mediterranean salad, turkey sandwich, and provolone. The carrier also offers free self-serve snacks.

Delta resumed hot local first-class meals in March, offering items such as French bread pizza, mushroom ravioli and kachouri chicken.

Delta resumed hot local first-class meals in March, offering items such as French bread pizza, mushroom ravioli and kachouri chicken. Image source: Courtesy of Delta Airlines

The changes of the Covid era are still in place

However, there are still some other differences when it comes to airline service offerings now versus before the pandemic.

Delta, for example, has not resumed serving premium meals in its premium International Economy cabin. Instead, Premium Select customers receive the same meal as economy class passengers.

Other changes made by airlines are more subtle, said Gary Leaf, who closely tracks US airline service offerings for his insights from the Wing blog. One positive: American meal service extended in domestic first class to include flights leaving until 9 p.m., the deadline was 8 p.m.

On the other hand, the carrier used to serve hot meals to first class customers on flights of 900 miles or more. Now, cold meals are the norm for trips of less than 1,500 miles.

Leaf is among industry watchers who think some of the cuts were a mistake.

“There is a bit of a misinformation when airlines start talking about their restored services,” he said. “There appears to be at least some attempt to stick to cost cuts in the era of the pandemic.”

But some of the cuts, he said, were at least in part a result of supply chain challenges as well as staff shortages at catering contractors employed by airlines.

However, Robertino said that in America, any ongoing supply chain adjustments are only minor.

“For example, the carrots might be different in size, or the lettuce in the salad might be different,” she said. “We’re always working to make that switch if needed.”

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