Hop on an 11.5hr flight from Newark to Honolulu on United Airlines in economy class and you’ll be given the choice to buy a meal or snackbox onboard. Don’t want to spend anything? Coffee, tea, or soft drinks (and a stroopwafel starting next month) will have to hold you over. On the other side of the world, however, life is a little different.
My wife and I recently flew two one-hour flights on SriLankan Airlines, from Chennai to Colombo and from Colombo to Male. I booked SirLankan for the stopover in Colombo, but after a few flights on Indian low-cost-carriers, I also looked forward to flying a full-service carrier. Still, I did not expect much on a short flight.
Once airborne, the flight crew quickly sprung to work and in minutes was rolling down aisles with meal and beverage carts. No choice was given on the Chennai to Colombo sector, but a hot Indian vegetarian lunch was served along with choice of beverage:
On the Colombo to Male flight, departing at 7:25a, a choice between a scrambled egg or vegetarian breakfast was given. I ordered scrambled eggs and was surprised at how substantial the meal was and more importantly, how tasty it was – served with chicken sausage and potatoes. It was a filling, satisfying, breakfast.
To be fair, my wife ordered the vegetarian meal and it was as disgusting as it looked—
This post is not about shaming the U.S. carriers into bringing back free meals in economy class (or even premium cabins on shorter flights). First, it will not happen and second, the respective markets are very different and it is fair to say it should not happen. Nevertheless, a meal service on a short flight is appreciated, helping the flight to fly by even quicker and showing that truly full-service, all-inclusive carriers are still in operation.