Delta Air Lines ups the ante, re-introducing free meals in Economy

Courtesy Delta Air Lines

Courtesy Delta Air Lines

While British Airways (BA) came on lately to charge for meals on the short haul – something which North American carriers have been doing for quite a while now (see No more free meals for BA short haul, Jan 16, 2017), Delta Air Lines across the pond is re-introducing complimentary meals in Economy on March 1 following a trial last year. The offer even comes with a choice of selections, for example, a mesquite-smoked turkey combo, Mediterranean whole-grain vegetable wrap, or fruit and cheese plate.

What is interesting is how the business model keeps shifting as the competition heats up, and how things sometimes come a full circle to what they used to be. Meals used to be part and parcel of the total package, so too checked baggage, seat selection at time of booking, and seats with more leg room. The budget model of product unbundling and add-on charges soon became a way for airlines to be seen as offering lower fares and at the same time a source of ancillary revenue. It is to be noted that some airlines are still offering the freebies, notably Asian carriers such as Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific which, for example, are still allowing two pieces of checked baggage.

The crux of the game is really one of staying ahead of the competitors – and while BA becomes a late follower in charging for meals (but fortunately in a different market), Delta is shaking up the game with re-introducing an old practice which may soon be followed by rivals for the same routes, among them American Airlines, JetBlue Airways and Virgin America.


About Dingzi
Writer by passion, with professional expertise in aviation, customer service and creative writing. Aviation veteran, author, editor and management consultant. Besides commentary on business issues and life-interest topics, travel stories and book reviews, genres include fiction, poetry and plays. Nature lover who abhors cruelty of any form to animals, and a tireless traveler. Above all, a dreamer.

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