Free Snacks Are Making A Comeback On Major U.S. Airlines

Free food is making a comeback on major U.S. airlines

Airline freebies are hard to come by these days. Between baggage fees and higher prices for seats with more legroom, airlines have become notorious for nickel-and-diming fliers. One of the most disappointing cutbacks of late has been on snacks. No one's complaining about losing lousy airplane meals, but the peanuts and pretzels? Purchasing a fruit-and-cheese plate on a flight just feels wrong.

The days of paying an arm and a leg or going hungry on flights, however, look to be drawing to a close—at least, if you're flying one of the major U.S. airlines, or one of the cool ones (ahem, JetBlue).

American Airlines announced yesterday that it will soon start offering complimentary snacks to the entire cabin on domestic flights. In February, transcontinental flights—which include routes from NYC to L.A. or San Francisco and Miami to L.A.—will get complimentary snacks. By April, the freebies roll out to all domestic flights.

Flights departing before 9:45 a.m. will serve Biscoff cookies, the European speculoos biscuits that Delta has been serving for years; flights departing after 9:45 a.m. will offer a choice between the cookies and pretzels.

American is the only major U.S. airline doling out the free snacks. In December, United Airlines announced the return of its free snacks to its economy class, and the initiative kicked off yesterday. The options are quite international: stroopwafels for flights departing before 9:45 a.m., and for afternoon flights, "savory snacks, such as an Asian-style snack mix of rice crackers, sesame sticks and wasabi peas, or a zesty-ranch mix of mini pretzel sticks, Cajun corn sticks and ranch soy nuts."

United told us that it wanted to serve "memorable" items that "reflected a global food network." No complaints here—especially for the stroopwafels. The Dutch cookies are meant to be placed over a hot cup of tea or coffee, allowing its steam to melt the cookie's caramel center. They're perfect for a cramped tray table.

Delta, meanwhile, has offered complimentary Biscoff cookies to all flights since 1985. And JetBlue, of course, has always offered a delightful assortment of sweet and salty goodies.

Though this news may sound exciting to those who select flights based on snack availability, it probably looks like small potatoes to international travelers. Many international airlines not only still offer free food, but they give out complimentary booze, too. We can only hope U.S. airlines will take that route next.