ӣƵ

Skipping the US This country's safest A spotlight on America Lost, damaged? Tell us
Air Travel

Will I get a meal on my flight? What to know about food service on major US airlines.

  • Most domestic economy passengers don’t get a full meal included in the price of their ticket.
  • Many flights, especially long-haul ones to international destinations, include meal service, even in economy.
  • Even on flights where meals aren’t included in the ticket price, many offer more filling options for purchase than the free bag of nuts or packet of Biscoff you may get otherwise.

Travelers often assume they won’t be fed when they fly. While it’s true that most domestic economy passengers don’t get a full meal included in the price of their tickets, it’s inaccurate to say meals never get served on planes.

Many flights, especially long-haul trips to international destinations, include meal service, even in economy. And even on flights where meals aren’t included in the ticket price, many offer more filling options for purchase than the free bag of nuts or packet of Biscoff you may get otherwise. Frequent flyer status can also get many travelers perks like free premium drinks on most carriers.

Here’s what the four major U.S. airlines offer for inflight meals and refreshments:

American Airlines

Free in and Main Cabin Extra on all flights traveling more than 250 miles:

◾ Tea, Coffee, water, Coca-Cola soft drink products.

◾ Biscoff cookies and pretzels.

For purchase in economy on domestic flights:

◾ Premium snacks.

◾ Beer, wine and spirits.

Free in economy on flights to and from Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Europe, the Middle East, select South American cities, between the mainland U.S. and Hawaii, and on the following routes: JFK-LAX, JFK-SFO, JFK-SNA, BOS-LAX and select departures on the MIA-LAX route:

◾ All free beverages and snacks available on shorter flights:

◾ Inflight meal.

◾ Beer, wine and spirits.

In domestic first class, premium economy, business class on short-haul international flights, and all travelers on Flagship Business and Flagship First tickets have access to all the previously listed free refreshments, plus menus that vary by region and route, along with specially selected beer, wine and spirits.

Delta Air Lines

Delta's domestic first class lunch and dinner options include short ribs, feta and pecan salad and cheese pie.

Free in Main Cabin on all flights traveling more than 250 miles:

◾ Tea, Coffee, water, Coca-Cola soft drink products.

◾ A selection of snacks.

For purchase in economy on domestic flights:

◾ Snack boxes.

◾ Beer, wine and spirits.

Comfort+, domestic first class, Premium Select and Delta One fares always include beer, wine, and spirits. Free hot meals are also available on select domestic First Class and all domestic Delta One flights. 

On long-haul international flights, meals and beverages, including beer, wine and spirits, are included for .

Cruising Altitude:What's the deal with airplane food? I went to Atlanta to find out.

Southwest Airlines

only has economy class, so all its flights include:

◾ Tea, Coffee, water, Coca-Cola soft drink products.

◾ A selection of snacks.

Beer, wine and spirits are available for purchase, though elite Rapid Rewards members may receive drink coupons as a perk.

United Airlines

In , all flights over 300 miles include free snacks, water, tea, coffee and soft drinks, and beer, wine and spirits for purchase.

On flights over 500 miles, premium snack boxes are also available for purchase in economy, and on domestic flights over 1,190 miles, hot meals are also available for purchase in economy.

On flights to Asia, Europe, the Middle East, the South Pacific, and select destinations in Latin America, the economy fare includes a meal, snack, beer, wine, water, soft drinks, coffee and tea. Spirits are also available for purchase.

In domestic :

◾ Free alcohol is available on request on flights over 300 miles.

◾ Free snacks are also available on flights between 300 and 900 miles.

◾ On flights over 900 miles, a hot meal will be offered.

◾ On flights over 1,190 miles, a pre-arrival snack will be offered in addition to the main meal.

On international business class flights, a premium hot meal and beer, wine and spirits are included in the price.  

Zach Wichter is a travel reporter for ӣƵ based in New York. You can reach him at zwichter@usatoday.com.

The Key Points at the top of this article were created with the assistance of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and reviewed by a journalist before publication. No other parts of the article were generated using AI. .

Featured Weekly Ad