The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated the air travel industry. Airlines saw steep drops in revenue due to travelers being stuck at home and a reduced need to travel with businesses closed amid lockdowns.
As part of continued efforts to maintain traveler safety, multiple airlines have reduced the food and offerings during flights. If you are traveling in the near future, here is what food and beverage options you can expect to be served on each airline:
Starting July 2, Delta will begin to reserve complimentary beer and wine for its First Class and Delta Comfort+ customers on flights that are more than 500 miles. "Flight attendants will pass the cans and single-serve bottles ... using serving trays to minimize touch points on-board," the airline said.
One of the largest airlines in the world, Delta previously said that it is temporarily moving to essential food and beverage offerings on board and is also adjusting its in-flight service policies, both for domestic and international travel.
The changes include:
-No plastic cups or ice.
-Two snack offerings for passengers in Main Cabin and Delta Comfort+, as well as on First Class flights less than 900 miles.
-Meal service will now be “pre-packaged, non-perishable Flight Fuel boxes with two snack offerings” for First Class and Delta One passengers on flights greater than 900 miles.
-Preselect and Special Meal service will be temporarily suspended.
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While American Airlines has not updated their “Food and Lounge Service in Response to COVID-19” page since April 27, previous changes made in response to the pandemic include:
-No alcohol in Main Cabin on flights less than 2,200 miles.
-Beverages would be limited to water, juice and canned options, except on flights longer than 2,200 miles.
-No snacks or food would be available for purchase and meals would only be offered in first class.
-Limited capacity on each aircraft with middle seats being assigned only when necessary.
Starting March 29, United Airlines implemented the following food service changes to help maintain passenger safety:
-Only sealed beverages would be served and the airline would no longer offer ice, coffee, tea and poured alcohol. Those sitting in premium cabins will still have access to beer and individual wines.
-Snacks will not be available in United Economy seating for flights under 80 minutes or in United First for flights under 60 minutes. Passengers are still welcome to bring snacks onboard. Passengers sitting in United First on flights that are between 60 and 140 minutes receive an “all-in-one” snack bag that includes a stroopwafel, pretzels, bottle of water and a sanitizer wipe. Those on premium transcontinental flights will receive the same snack bag if they’re flying in United Economy or Economy Plus.
On June 1, Southwest updated its snack and beverage policy for flights over 250 miles:
-The airline would serve cans of water with straws and a snack mix on said flights, while cups and ice would be available upon request.
-All other flights, snack and beverage options are still suspended in efforts to maintain safety.
JetBlue noted that complimentary food and beverage service would still be offered in a limited capacity in response to the pandemic:
-Purchase of beer, wine, liquor and other buy-onboard products have been suspended.
-Purchase of goods from the in-flight snack bar will be suspended.
-Snack baskets and beverage cart service will be replaced with a pre-sealed snack and beverage bag.
-Mint passengers will be served pre-packed meals and single-serve beverages, but all glassware and mugs have been replaced with single-use cups.
Alaska Airlines is recommending that passengers pack their own food and refillable water bottle. They have also implemented the following changes:
-No food or beverage service on flights up to 350 miles.
-Limited service on flights longer than 350 miles. For those flights, beer is served for passengers in Premium class and First-class, not main cabin.
Hawaiian made the following changes for passengers aboard its North America and international flights:
-Complimentary bottled water will be provided.
-No poured alcohol, coffee and tea, and no sale of alcoholic beverages in the main cabin.
-No sales will be allowed from the snack cart, but passengers can still bring their own food on board.
As of May 12, Frontier is offering limited beverage options available for purchase on its flights in response to the pandemic. “These items are will be provided upon request,” the airline stated.
The risks of flying amid the COVID-19 pandemic
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said that travelers face an increased risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19 and that “staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others from getting sick.”
For those who do travel, the CDC recommends that you wash your hands often with soap and water, avoid touching your face, keep a safe distance away from others, cover coughs and sneezes, and wear a mask in public.
The CDC also advises individuals to anticipate their needs while traveling, such as bringing enough medicine to last an entire trip, packing alcohol-based hand sanitizer, and preparing food and water.
A more detailed list regarding the risks of travel and how to prepare is available at their wesite.