Famed economist Milton Friedman once said "There's no such thing as a free lunch."
However, for decades, airlines provided passengers with free lunch, dinner, breakfast and snacks until doing away with the practice several years ago. The combination of rising costs and the ability to charge for ancillary fees as a new revenue model led to the decision.
Now, low fuel prices the last three years have triggered a huge profit increase for the airlines, and they are considering returning some of that goodwill to its customers.
Case in point: Delta Air Lines has been quietly considering the return of free meals on flights.
The Atlanta-based carrier revealed Wednesday that it has been testing complimentary meals in the Main Cabin on trans-continental flights between New York's John F. Kennedy International and Los Angeles International Airport and San Francisco International Airport.
The testing period began Nov. 1 and ends Dec. 15 as part of the airline's focus to explore other avenues to enhance the customer experience. Delta said it would make a decision about the full resumption of free meals after analyzing the results.
"We are constantly actively listening to our customers and employees, gathering their feedback and testing new products on board to continuously improve the overall experience," Allison Ausband, Delta's Senior Vice President of In-Flight Service, said in a statement. "Testing meals on Transcon flights is part of our commitment to be thoughtful about our offerings and make decisions based on customers' needs."
[READMORE]READ MORE: Are Free Perks Returning To Major Airlines?[/READMORE]
Delta has been processing customer satisfaction scores are to determine the impact on the in-flight experience. The carrier has been experimenting with some very specific items as well, including a Honey Maple Breakfast Sandwich or Luvo Breakfast Medley on morning flights. For afternoon flights, it is offering either a Mesquite-Smoked Turkey Combo with chips and a brownie bite, or Luvo Mediterranean Whole Grain Veggie Wrap with grapes and a cookie on afternoon flights.
Once it evaluates the results, Delta said it will announce at a later date whether or not it plans to move forward with complimentary fresh meals in the Main Cabin on trans-continental flights.
Airlines have been slowly returning some perks to passengers. Delta earlier this year began giving its on-board entertainment options for free, as did American Airlines. United in February began its program of free snacks on North America and Latin America flights.
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