I follow @JonNYC on Twitter largely for American Airlines news but he happened to be on a Delta flight from San Francisco to New York JFK where Delta was serving meals in economy.
Coach passengers were given a choice between a smoked turkey sandwich and a veggie wrap.
This isn’t fancy, but it’s food bundled with economy tickets on a domestic flight — albeit a ‘premium transcon’ (New York – San Francisco, similar to New York – Los Angeles, where flat beds are the norm in business class).
Apparently this isn’t being offered on all cross country flights or even all flights in these markets. It remains a test which started earlier in November, though I’m unsure exactly what they would be ‘testing’. As a Delta spokesperson explains it to me,
Delta is currently testing complimentary meals in the Main Cabin on Transcon flights as part of the airline’s focus on continuously looking at ways to enhance and elevate the on-board experience for customers. During the test period customer satisfaction scores will be closely monitored to determine the impact on the in-flight experience. Additional details will be shared once the results of the testing have been reviewed and a go-forward plan has been finalized.
Interestingly providing free food to all economy passengers reduces the differentiation between economy and Delta’s “Comfort+” extra legroom seating that already offers a buy on board item for flights of this distance. So if they do add this perk to coach they might need to improve the Comfort+ food offering on these routes as well.
I’m not sure that cuts to the American AAdvantage and United MileagePlus programs, which reduce the motivation to choose those carriers, winds up being such a good idea. Delta remains the better operational airline in terms of on-time performance and flight completion. They’re investing more in their basic clubs. And if they start serving meals in coach on premium routes United and American could be forced to do the same just to keep up.
Do those mileage cuts actually save money? Here’s another scenario in which they may not. And that’s even apart from hypothesizing that a $50 million cost savings could be overwhelmed by a 10% reduction in desire to acquire and spend on a co-brand credit card (given a $2 billion a year co-brand deal).