Delta Air Lines Inc is resuming free meals in coach on 12 transcontinental US routes after customers responded enthusiastically to a test program in select markets.
The carrier on March 1 will debut complimentary meals on routes from New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport to Los Angeles and San Francisco. On April 24, the offering will expand to another 10 cross-country flights out of New York, Boston, Seattle and Washington, Delta said in a statement Thursday.
Customers flying in the morning will choose from items including a honey-maple breakfast sandwich and a fruit-and-cheese plate. Day-time options include a turkey combo and a veggie wrap.
Most US airlines had abandoned giving free meals in coach by 2010, although some revived the perk recently on pricier, long-distance flights. Delta and American Airlines Group Inc. last year resumed complimentary meals in coach on the longest routes to Hawaii. They had already offered free meals on long-distance international routes.
Delta coach travelers on short US routes aren't likely to get free meals, Henry Harteveldt, a travel industry analyst at Atmosphere Research Group, said in December. Offering free meals on transcontinental flights helps Delta distinguish itself and justify charging higher fare than competitors, he said. Delta last year collected 9 percent more revenue for each seat flown a mile than competitors.
The Atlanta-based company tested complimentary meals on flights from New York to Los Angeles and San Francisco in November and December, generating higher customer satisfaction scores.