Monday, March 15, 2010

At Continental This Fall, There Will No Longer Be Any Such Thing As a Free Lunch (Or Breakfast or Dinner) in Coach

No soup for you!

Continental Airlines, long the only U.S. carrier offering free meals (such as they were) in coach, plans to drop that amenity this fall and sell food on board instead.

In a press release today, Continental makes weird twists and turns to divert you from the obvious, that the free meal service in coach is about to end, by announcing it is "introducing a variety of high quality, healthy food choices for purchase in economy class on many U.S./Canada and certain Latin American routes."

Sez Continental: "The airline will continue to offer complimentary food in the economy cabin on all intercontinental and certain other international routes, and on long-haul domestic routes over six hours."

OK, you may be asking, what exactly is a long-haul domestic route "over six hours?"

Anyway, Jim Compton, executive vice president and chief marketing officer, said: "Our traditional free-food model has served us well for many years, but we need to change to reflect today's market and customer preferences."

[UPDATE March 16 -- Re comment below on 6+ hour domestic flights, I overlooked Hawaii and Alaska (and, arguably, Puerto Rico). Also, I might add that I actually prefer being able to buy a decent sandwich or salad, rather than the god-awful little "pizza" Continental often served free (though it did always come with a salad, and the chicken sandwich Continental sometimes served was not bad). I've tried US Airways' deli sandwiches, which as I recall cost around $8, and I thought they were very good.]



Anonymous said...

Yeah, I know it's always my preference to pay for something I used to get for free. Hurray for consumer preference!

I'm much less annoyed by paying for these things than by the ridiculous way the airlines try to spin it as if it's a benefit.

Anonymous said...

If the food for sale is like the AA program - it will be a couple of sandwiches for the first two people who purchase and junk for anyone else. AA's food for sale program is a farce. Bring your own or starve. Now Continental will start on the same dismal program.

Jeremy said...

Not sure why the question about domestic routes over 6 hours? That would include many flights to Alaska and Hawaii. At least Continental is still offering food on these; American's flights from Dallas to Honolulu are about 8 hours and offer no included food. But a Boston to London flight, at as few as 6.5 hours, would still have food service by virtue of being international.

ChefNick said...

I've always thought that if they had a menu at the check-in counter you could select your meal preflight and pay the agent for it.

The request would be relayed to the galley database and the stew would know that seat 78b was requesting the dried pork chop with potato sticks and wouldn't have to mess with cash or credit cards.

But I guess that's too easy.

Elizabeth said...

I agree on those awful pizzas! This is your niece, BTW, and I hope all is well.