American Airlines Brings Back Free Snacks in Coach

  • All four major U.S. carriers now provide food without charge
  • American offers Biscoff versus United's Dutch stroopwafel

American Airlines Group Inc. has followed United Airlines in providing free snacks for economy passengers after more than a decade without them.

American, the world’s biggest carrier, began offering Biscoff cookies on flights departing before 9:45 a.m. Monday on routes between New York’s Kennedy airport and Los Angeles and San Francisco, and between Miami and Los Angeles. Flights later in the day will carry the cookies or pretzels. The snacks will return to the coach cabin of all flights April 4.

The resumption comes after American reported a record $6.3 billion profit for 2015, helped by a plunge in the cost of jet fuel. With fares already low because of increased competition from discount airlines, American is improving service to attract fliers.

“We really want to take that money back and invest it into all of our customers,” said Laura Nedbal, an American spokeswoman. “We really want to offer our customers more choice.”

The goodies are reappearing on the same day that United began serving a Dutch confection known as the stroopwafel free to coach passengers. All four major airlines now have free snacks in coach.

Crunchy Cookies

Biscoff cookies, described as crunchy with a caramelized flavor, first were served on U.S. airlines in the 1980s, according to the cookie-maker’s website.

American stopped serving free snacks in 2003, while merger partner US Airways removed them in 2008.

United announced in December that it would begin serving the stroopwafel in coach. It ended free coach snacks in 2006, while Continental Airlines dropped them in 2010. The airlines combined to form United Continental Holdings Inc.

Delta Air Lines Inc. has complimentary peanuts, pretzels and biscuit-style cookies in coach, while Southwest Airlines Co. offers pretzels and peanuts on every flight. Those airlines never suspended free snacks.

American also will begin serving free meals in the economy cabin on flights between Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport and Honolulu and Maui, Hawaii, starting in May. The flight lengths are similar to some long-distance international routes and many passengers connect to them from other cities, Nedbal said. American doesn’t plan to expand free coach meals to other domestic routes.

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