Inflight service is resuming — here’s what food and drinks you can expect on your next flight

As travelers are slowly returning to the skies, airlines are beginning to resume some services that were temporarily cut due to the pandemic.

In an effort to lower the risk of contamination and save some cash, airlines made some drastic changes to their services, both on the ground and in the air. This included closing lounges and cutting all or most inflight service. However, as the situation is evolving and airlines are introducing new safety measures, they're also reopening some lounges and expanding their onboard food and beverage offerings.

Most airlines are beginning to offer complimentary snacks and drinks again on many flights. Some airlines that went dry have also resumed alcohol service in premium cabins.

Here's what food and drink options you can expect onboard the major U.S. airlines for the foreseeable future.

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In This Post

Alaska Airlines

Alaska has resumed limited food and drink service on flights longer than 350 miles. For flights less than 350 miles, all service is still suspended.

For all flights longer than 350 miles:

  • Soft drinks are limited to Coca-Cola, Diet Coke and Dasani bottled water in all cabins
  • Complimentary red wine and beer are available in Premium Class and First Class. Alcohol is not available in the Main Cabin.
  • First-class passengers are offered a package snack box — either a Deli Picnic Pack (Crackers, cheese, salami, potato chips, fruit or almonds, and a sweet treat) or a Tapas Picnic Pack (Hummus and chips, olives, nuts, fruit and dark chocolate).
  • Main Cabin and Premium Class passengers are offered a small packaged snack. There's no food for purchase.

Allegiant Air

This airline is continuing to sell food and beverages, all of which are served in pre-packaged and factory-sealed containers.

American Airlines

American is offering some level of service on nearly all flights.

For flights under 900 miles:

  • Water, canned drinks and juice are available by request in all cabins
  • No snacks, alcohol or food for purchase are available in the Main Cabin
  • Alcohol is available in first class by request

For flights between 900 and 2,199 miles (typically up to 4.5 hours):

  • All passengers are provided a bag with a packaged snack, a bottle of water and hand sanitizer during boarding (not available on American Eagle flights)
  • Water, canned drinks and juice are available by request in all cabins
  • No snacks, alcohol or food for purchase are available in the Main Cabin
  • Alcohol is available in first class by request
  • No additional snacks, meals or pre-departure beverages are available in first class

Twitter user @xJonNYC, one of the most reliable sources for any news pertaining to American Airlines, is reporting that the airline will soon begin offering fruit and cheese plates on flights over 2.5 hours to better align with its competitors' offerings.

For flights longer than 2,200 miles (typically more than 4.5 hours), including transcontinental and flights to Hawaii:

  • Alcohol is not available in Main Cabin and Main Cabin Extra except on long-haul international flights
  • Other Main Cabin beverages and complimentary pretzels or Biscoff cookies are available per usual
  • Alcohol will be available in first class
  • No snacks or food for purchase will be served, Main Cabin meals will be served on long-haul international flights
  • First and business class meals will be served on one tray instead of in courses

Related: My experience flying across the country during the coronavirus pandemic

(Photo by Brian Kelly/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Brian Kelly/The Points Guy)

Delta

Delta made some of the most significant cuts to its inflight service but has since begun to slowly reintroduce some service elements on flights more than 350 miles. Effective July 2, complimentary beer and wine are available to first-class and Comfort+ customers on all flights greater than 500 miles. Interestingly though, Delta isn't ready yet to restore complimentary soft drinks, tea or coffee service on most flights. No service is available on flights less than 350 flights.

For flights more than 350 miles:

  • All passengers get two pre-packaged snacks and an 8.5-ounce individual bottle of water
  • No alcohol or other food is available in any cabin
  • Effective July 2, first-class and Comfort+ customers can enjoy complimentary beer and wine on all flights greater than 500 miles.

For flights between 900 and 1,500 miles:

  • All passengers get two pre-packaged snacks and an 8.5-ounce individual bottle of water
  • First-class passengers get an individually packaged Flight Fuel box in addition to snacks
  • Effective July 2, first-class and Comfort+ customers can enjoy complimentary beer and wine

For flights longer than 1,500 miles:

  • All passengers get two pre-packaged snacks and an 8.5-ounce individual bottle of water, with additional bottles available upon request
  • First-class and Delta One passengers get an individually packaged Flight Fuel box in addition to snacks
  • Effective July 2, first-class and Comfort+ customers can enjoy complimentary beer and wine

For long-haul international flights:

  • All long-haul international flights feature a full selection of beverage offerings and hot, prepared food service in all cabins
  • Pre-departure beverage for Delta One passengers limited to individual bottled water
  • Fresh pillows, blankets and amenity kits are available
  • As a precaution, all glassware has been replaced with single-use cups

Related: Delta resumes limited alcohol service with beer and wine

(Photo by Richard Kerr/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Richard Kerr/The Points Guy)

Frontier Airlines

Frontier is currently offering limited beverage items available for purchase inflight. These items are only available upon request.

Hawaiian Airlines

Complimentary bottled water is provided to each guest. Other beverages are limited to those that are canned or bottled — no poured beverages like alcohol, coffee and tea in any cabin.

Hawaiian has temporarily suspended Pau Hana snack cart sales. Meals are still available in first-class, but they are delivered on one tray instead of multiple courses. Pillows and blankets have also been removed from North America flights.

Related: State-by-state guide to coronavirus reopening

JetBlue

JetBlue continues to offer its complimentary food and beverage service but at a limited capacity. In economy, snack baskets and beverage services have been replaced by a pre-sealed snack and beverage bag. All inflight sales, such as for alcoholic beverages, EatUp Boxes, EatUp Café, pillows, blankets and earbuds, have been suspended. The self-serve pantry is not available on flights that usually have it.

The usual Mint service, including any preselected special meals, has been replaced with fresh meals from JetBlue's EatUp Café menu. Beverage service is limited to a selection of water, red and white wine and beer, all of which are served in single-use cups instead of glassware. Bottled water is still available at each seat. 

JetBlue
JetBlue's EatUp Cafe has some tasty fresh options. (Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy)

Southwest

Southwest had temporarily suspended all onboard beverages and snacks but in late May reintroduced cans of water and a snack mix on flights over 250 miles. Cups and ice are available upon request. For all other flights, snack and beverage service is still temporarily suspended.

Since Southwest isn't serving alcohol right now, it's extending any expiring drink coupons through the end of 2020.

Related: Looking forward to a drink mid-air? You'll have to wait a little longer.

Spirit

This airline is continuing to sell food and beverages as usual.

United Airlines

United is currently serving primarily pre-packaged foods and sealed beverages on most flights.

Drinks are available on all flights, but only on request for customers in economy on flights under 2 hours and 20 minutes and first-class customers on flights under 1 hour.

Effective July 3, United will offer beverages from the beverage cart, including ice, on flights over 2 hours and 20 minutes. Coffee and tea will be available on flights departing before 9:45 a.m., international flights and premium transcontinental flights. It will offer only sealed beverages — no coffee, tea or poured alcohol — on flights between 1 hour and 2 hours and 20 minutes.

Complimentary single-serve bottles of wine, beer and liquor are available in premium cabins on all flights. Complimentary beer and single-serve bottled wine are available in economy on international flights.

On domestic flights, first class passengers receive an “all-in-one” snack bag with a wrapped sanitizer wipe, 8.5-ounce bottle of water and two snacks on all flights over an hour long. Economy passengers receive that same snack bag on flights over 2 hours and 20 minutes, meanwhile first-class passengers receive a snack box on these longer flights. There are no snacks available in economy on flights under 2 hours and 20 minutes.

On premium transcontinental flights, such as between Los Angeles (LAX) and Newark (EWR), economy and economy plus passengers receive the “all-in-one” snack bag. Premium-cabin passengers receive a prepackaged hot meal and a packaged snack for pre-arrival.

On long-haul international flights, economy passengers receive an entrée, a snack and packaged dessert, as well as pre-packed midflight and pre-arrival snacks. In Polaris and Premium Plus, the entire meal is served on one tray, either prepackaged or covered for you to unwrap, instead of in courses.

Preorder meals and food for purchase are not available, except for Kosher meals on the Newark to Tel Aviv route.

Related: United improves onboard beverage service, trims Saks amenities

(Photo by Brian Kelly/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Brian Kelly/The Points Guy)

Bonus: Air Canada

Air Canada made some drastic inflight service cuts, but will relaunch many service elements in late July.

For long-haul international flights:

  • Passengers will get pre-packaged meal boxes, including an entree, salad, dessert and packaged bread. In Signature Class (long-haul business class), the entree will be hot and crafted by one of the airline's celebrity chef partners, whereas the entree will be cold in economy and premium economy.
  • There will be a packaged cold, light refreshment served prior to landing in all cabins, as well as a mid-flight cold sandwich and snack on longer flights.
  • Menus will be available in advance via the airline's app and website.
  • Bar service will include bottled water, Perrier, Lavazza coffee, black tea, a limited range of soft drinks, beer and individual-sized bottles of red, white, and Bottega sparkling wine.
  • Bedding and amenity kits will be available

For North America flights:

  • Business-class passengers on flights over 2 hours will get pre-packaged cold meal boxes crafted by Chef Antonio Park, as well as a snack prior to landing
  • Premium economy passengers on flights over 2 hours will get a complimentary meal box, including a pre-selected meal and snack item from the Air Canada Bistro
  • For flights over 2 hours, bar service will include bottled water, Perrier, Lavazza coffee and black tea and a limited range of soft drinks. Alcoholic beverages will only be available in premium cabins.
  • For flights under 2 hours, a complimentary water bottle service will be available in all cabins
  • Meals will only be available to economy class passengers on flights over 2 hours and must be pre-purchased online
  • All passengers will get a customer care kit containing a mask, antiseptic wipes, hand sanitizer, gloves, water bottle, a headset and a snack after boarding on all flights
  • Bedding will be available for those in Signature Class

Bottom line

The inflight service cuts due to the pandemic were significant, but it's promising to see that airlines are already beginning to phase back in at least some service elements. Still, it may be a while until things really start going back to normal, so for the time being, try to not board a flight hungry and pack some extra snacks. Premium cabins will be the quickest to restore service, but even then, some changes, such as the elimination of create-your-own ice cream sundae carts, could remain post-pandemic.

Related: As travel reopens, here's what it's like flying in the US right now

Featured image by Nicky Kelvin/The Points Guy.

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