Delta announced plans yesterday to offer complimentary meals in economy class on many of its transcon flights. Curiously, competition is limited on some of these flight. So what is Delta really thinking in adding this perk?
Free Meals in Delta Domestic Economy
Free meals are coming to the following routes starting on April 24, 2017:
- Boston (BOS) – San Francisco (SFO)
- Boston (BOS) – Los Angeles (LAX)
- Boston (BOS) – Seattle (SEA)
- Washington (DCA) – Los Angeles (LAX)
- New York (JFK) – Portland (PDX)
- New York (JFK) – San Diego (SAN)
- New York (JFK) – Seattle (SEA)
- Seattle (SEA) – Ft. Lauderdale (FLL)
- Seattle (SEA) – Orlando (MCO)
- Seattle (SEA) – Raleigh (RDU)
This is in addition to the complimentary meals on premium transcon SFO/LAX-JFK routes that were announced last week.
The new meals will be cold and only served on daytime flights:
Delta’s new meal program will feature a variety of options for customers depending on the time of day of their flight. In the morning, customers will have the option to choose between a Honey Maple Breakfast Sandwich, Luvo Breakfast Medley or fruit and cheese plate. During the day, customers will be able to select from a Mesquite-Smoked Turkey Combo, Luvo Mediterranean Whole Grain Veggie Wrap, or fruit and cheese plate. For overnight flights, customers will be offered a breakfast bar during the pre-arrival beverage service.
Flying in Comfort+ (premium economy)? You’ll be fed three times on premium transcon routes.
Comfort+ passengers will also receive a selection from a pre-arrival snack basket and complimentary drinks, in addition to a mid-service greek frozen yogurt bar on flights between JFK and LAX/SFO.
Why Delta is Expanding Complimentary Meal Service on Domestic Flights
Gary and I had a lively debate last week about this very issue and while I still maintain that this will not lead to more profit for Delta, I think Gary correctly explains *why* Delta is choosing to add free meals. In providing a reliable, high-quality onboard experience, Delta primes customers to choose it first without first factoring price. There is no doubt some truth to that based upon my relationship with United. I still question whether it will pay off.
Last week, referring to a theoretical loyal Delta customer, I stated–
On the contrary, I think a customer like her would be much more disappointed to receive her free meals between New York and LA and then fly from LA to Boston or New York to Seattle on Delta and find no free meal service. Thus, the lack of consistency will be a greater danger to someone who does not tend to shop around.
And would you look at that: both LA to Boston and New York to Seattle are on the list.
Does that mean my argument is wrong? No — my other points (lack of BOB = lost revenue + no competitive advantage if competition matches) remain valid, but Delta did eliminate one potential sticking point in broadening the complimentary meal service to more routes.
The odd thing is that Delta does not have fierce competition on many of the routes above. That makes it all the more strange that it would offer these complimentary meals.
How Will FAs React?
Last point: I can see one of two flight attendant reactions. Ideally, FAs will be happy about the new complimentary meals because it means happy customers. Just as I’ve learned happy wife = happy life, so FAs know happy passengers = happy life.
But FAs may gripe and moan about the additional service…and perhaps even vote to unionize. I do not think this will happen because handing out a box to each person may end up going faster than processing payment for each passenger who wishes to buy an onboard meal. Indeed, when I fly international economy, meals are whipped out faster than on domestic flights with BOB.
Again, it is important to note that I am very happy about these free meals. I will be even happier if United and American match. I am still curious why Delta is doing this, but I think Gary must be on to something: Delta thinks it will keep people from hacking around. Time will tell. I’m still skeptical.
(H/T: One Mile At A Time)