Both Delta Air Lines and United Airlines unveiled a host of improvements to their in-flight catering options last week in what's quickly turning into an arms race among legacy air carriers.
Delta's updates center largely around the international dining experience on its aircraft. Starting on March 1, travelers in the airline's economy cabin will now get upgraded flatware, free sparkling wine (in addition to the already-free alcohol selections) and new menu cards that lay out meal offerings. In the Delta's international business class (branded as Delta One), the airline is also continuing to invest in better-sourced, higher quality ingredients. As of March 1, the carrier has committed to using regionally sourced cuisine out of Asian departure ports as well as menu items catered to specific destinations.
Delta Air Lines
A portion of Delta's upgraded in-flight meal service, which includes upgraded cutlery for main cabin passengers and free sparkling wine.
Later this month, Delta also plans to launch the functionality for business class passengers to order meals prior to flight. Competing carriers like American already have this service, but launching a similar product is no small feat; in addition to needing to know meal schedules far in advance, the airline needs to have a logistical backend designed to handle passenger requests and tie those to third-party catering providers on a day-to-day basis. Perhaps because of that complexity, Delta plans to only initially release this service at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson and JFK, though the service may expand through the year.
Like Delta, United's catering upgrades also focus on better ingredient selection and food sourcing. Through the spring and summer, the airline is adding new breakfast and lunch options to its buy-on-board meal cart (branded as Bistro-on-Board) while craft-distilled Wheatley vodka and organic jerky are being added to onboard menus. Global upgrades to United's catering service already went into effect on March 1.
As legacy carriers continue to upgrade catering options across domestic and international service it's clear that competition among airlines to provide the best in-flight dining experience is quickly heating up. Already, American, Delta and United have all upgraded their airport lounges to serve heartier and healthier food while the number of domestic routes operating with free meals in economy is slowly ratcheting up. With this new slate of upgrades, the competition is only going to get stiffer.Back to news articles