Delta Airlines has announced it is bringing back free food service to economy class customers on some of its longer domestic flights. The complimentary meals will begin March 1 on flights between New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport and California’s Los Angeles International and San Francisco International airports. The service will expand on April 24 to 10 other major domestic markets, including Washington, D.C., Boston and Seattle.

On Delta’s website, spokeswoman Catherine Sirna said, “The enhancement is part of Delta’s ongoing multimillion dollar investment in the onboard customer experience.” This also includes upgraded snacks, access to blankets, more food-for-purchase options and free in-flight entertainment. Main cabin customers on long-haul international flights are also treated to complimentary beer, wine, spirits and sleep kits, she said.

Subscribe to the AARP Travel Newsletter and get inspired for your next trip

Travel Discounts

Savings on car rentals, cruises, hotels, flights, and more.


Depending on the time of flights, customers will be able to choose between a honey-maple breakfast sandwich, a fruit-and-cheese plate or a Luvo-brand breakfast medley for morning trips; and a mesquite-smoked turkey combo, a Mediterranean whole-grain veggie wrap or a fruit-and-cheese plate for day and evening flights. And if you’re flying overnight, you’ll be offered a breakfast bar during the prearrival beverage service.

Last year, from Nov. 1 to Dec. 15, Delta tested the free meals on trips between San Francisco and New York. During that time, the airline closely monitored customer’s satisfaction.

“We are all about making our main cabin experience the best it can be for our customers, and offering free high-quality meals is a big part of that experience,” said Allison Ausband, Delta’s senior vice president of in-flight service. “When we tested this concept, our customers loved it and appreciated it, so we are implementing in our most strategic markets.”

According to the Associated Press, Delta had “pretax income of $13.8 billion in 2015 and 2016, compared with $8.9 billion for American Airlines Group and $8.0 billion for United Continental over those two years.”

Delta halted its complimentary meals for economy class customers in 2001 during an economic downturn in the airline industry. By 2010, nearly all other domestic airlines followed suit.

American Airlines and United Airlines are reportedly conducting studies about whether to bring back complimentary meals for economy passengers.

Join AARP Today — Receive access to exclusive information, benefits and discounts