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Expect scaled back food and drink offerings on planes this summer

We break down each United States-based airline's food policy.

Anna Ben Yehuda

The good news is that we're hearing more talk about countries opening up and the travel industry gearing up for potentially resuming services. The not-so-great news is that some of the offerings we've been conditioned to expect while traveling might not actually be there for the foreseeable future. Case in point: airplane food.

Although all United States-based airlines have already announced the implementation of a slew of new sanitary conditions (the TSA will probably even start taking your temperature upon airport entry), focus is now turning towards the food served on board.

Overall, it seems like less food will be served less often on board. The length of a flight will take center stage, with shorter trips likely including only bottled water and pre-sealed snacks. 

Here, we break it down airline by airline to let you know what to expect in terms of food and drink when finally taking that flight you've been itching to book. 

Alaska Airlines

No food or beverages will be served on any Alaska Airlines flight under 350 miles long. On trips longer than that, main cabin passengers will receive a snack and bottled water while those in first and premium class will be served an additional sealed can of beer. Passengers will not be able to pre-order meals: the company is encouraging travelers to bring their own snacks on board.

American Airlines

Food service on American Airlines flights under four-and-a-half hours or 2,200 miles will differ between first class and main cabin travelers. The former will receive a bottle of water, pretzels and Biscoff cookies or chips upon boarding, with the ability to order alcohol while flying. The latter group of customers will receive the same service, minus the ability to purchase any additional food or alcohol while flying—they will, however, be able to order canned drinks. Trips over 2,200 miles will also come along with limited food service: customers in first and business class, for example, will receive their meals on a single tray instead of the multiple ones they are accustomed to.


Delta will provide identical service to passengers in any cabin on domestic and international flights to Canada, the Caribbean, Central American and Mexico. Folks will only receive bottled water and the airline will not be serving any alcohol, ice or plastic cups. On longer flights, main cabin customers will be served an entrée and a dessert while those in premium classes will also get bread. Everyone will be able to order beverages—including alcohol.


All passengers will be treated to pre-sealed snack bags and meals only.


Folks on flights over 250 miles will receive cans of water with straws and a snack mix that will include pretzels, ranch bagel chips and cheddar cheese squares. Alcohol won't be served on board but cups of ice will be available upon request.

United Airlines

In what appears to be the most sweeping change across the industry, United Airlines has announced the suspension of hot towel service and the launch of "all-in-one snack bags" on all U.S. domestic flights longer than two hours. The bags—which entirely replace the carrier's traditional on-board food service—will include "a wrapped sanitizer wipe, an 8.5 oz. bottled water, a Stroopwafel and a package of pretzels." No word, yet, on how international flights will be dealt with.

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