Airline Passengers Land Free Snacks Again

Complimentary treats are returning to a pair of major airlines. Find out why they are doing it.

Airline Passengers Land Free Snacks Again Photo (cc) by Iwan Gabovitch

When it comes to flying, you have a new choice: Biscoffs or stroopwafels?

Those free snacks are back on American Airlines and United Airlines flights, respectively, the companies announced this week.

While many of us might prefer the airlines compete by dropping fares or baggage fees — or giving our knees a break — they are tapping soaring profits to offer passengers the opportunity to nibble at no extra charge.

American Airlines, which completed its merger with US Airways in October, announced it will “elevate the customer experience by adding complimentary snacks and more free movies, TV shows and music in the Main Cabin.”

The snacks begin this month on American’s transcontinental flights and will be available on all domestic flights by April, the airline said.

Biscoffs, gourmet cookies with a caramelized flavor created in Belgium, will be offered on all flights departing before 9:45 a.m. Later flights rotate Biscoffs and mini pretzels.

If you fly United, you might like to try a stroopwafel, a Dutch-made toasted waffle treat with caramel middle, if you’re leaving by 9:45 a.m. You may eat it straight out of the package or warm it on top of a cup of coffee or tea to soften the waffle and melt its caramel filling, the airline says.

Not to your taste? United will offer on later flights “an Asian-style snack mix of rice crackers, sesame sticks and wasabi peas, or a zesty ranch mix of mini pretzel sticks, Cajun corn sticks and ranch soy nuts.”

United, which merged with Continental in 2010, says it will offer the complimentary snacks to economy-cabin customers on flights within North America, to and from Central America, and between Honolulu and Guam.

The airline industry lost money in seven out of 10 years ending in 2009, but has been profitable since then, USA Today recently reported. The airlines benefited last year from low oil prices, full planes and growing fees, it said.

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