Each week, my Meal of the Week feature examines an airline meal from my travels over the years. This may be a meal from earlier in the week or it may be a meal served over a decade ago.
U.S. airlines have dramatically scaled back meal service in both economy and premium cabins during the COVID-19 crisis. What does meal service look like on the few flights that still have it?
Delta, American, Alaska, and United have dramatically scaled back food and drink onboard during the COVID-19 crisis. American only serves meal on flights over 2,200 miles and only to passengers in first or business class. On domestic flights, passengers in economy class cannot even buy food. On Delta, real meals are only served on longhaul international flights…even transcontinental flights receive no meal service in first class, just a packaged snack. On United, meals are only offered in business class on premium transcontinental flights (Newark – Los Angeles/San Francisco, Boston – San Francisco). Alaska has also eliminated all meal service onboard in both economy and first class.
Mark, a reader of this blog, shared of his experience on United earlier this week from Los Angels to Newark. This is one of three domestic routes which United is still serving meals on in the front cabin. He was offered dinner on a redeye flight. Everything was delivered on one tray and included:
- Packaged nuts
- Packaged bread
- Salad with dressing
- Main course (wrapped in foil)
- Packaged cookie
He ordered kale lasagna but was actually served mushroom ravioli. When a flight attendant noticed the error, he brought him over the lasagna as well. Talk about a carb bomb!
Normally, this route would included hot mixed nuts, an appetizer, salad, main course, and dessert trolley with choice of ice cream sundae, petit fours, fruit, and cheese.
Mark also just emailed me a couple breakfast pictures from his return flight. He said the choices were egg white with spinach and kale (United loves kale, it seems…) or French Toast. He ordered the French Toast, eating only the French Toast and not the sausage or “fake” syrup. Yogurt and a “cold, hard” croissant were served, but no fruit. Everything was served on one dish. No coffee or tea was offered (he asked).
American Airlines has maintained more meal service than Alaska, Delta, or United, but the bottom line is this: you’re essentially on your own when it comes to airline meals. Especially if you are traveling in economy class, bring a snack.