Food & Drink In-Flight Experience

A Guide to Airline Meals and Snacks on 10 Major U.S. Carriers

Even if you fly regularly, it can be difficult to keep track of what food might be available in the air these days. The days of complimentary airline meals on U.S. domestic flights are long gone on most airlines (at least in coach class), but some carriers pass out free snacks, and many others offer a variety of goodies for purchase. If you’d like to be prepared for what food (or lack thereof) will be available to you on your next flight, see below for a roundup of airline meals and snacks on some of the most popular U.S. carriers.

If you’re flying in business or first class (except on very short flights), or on an overseas international flight, you can usually assume there will be a variety of dining choices. However, it’s always worth checking ahead.

Alaska Airlines Meals and Snacks

Alaska Airlines sells meals such as sandwiches and salads on flights over three hours; a fruit and cheese platter is available for purchase on most flights over two hours. Prices range from $8.50 to $9.50. Snacks known as “picnic packs” cost $6, while smaller snacks such as potato chips and trail mix range from $2.50 to $4.50. Regional and shuttle flights offer only picnic packs.

Non-alcoholic beverages are complimentary, while beer, wine, and liquors cost $7.50 to $8.50 in economy class (they’re free in first).

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Allegiant Meals and Snacks

Discount airline Allegiant offers no complimentary drinks, snacks, or meals. Instead, you can purchase non-alcoholic beverages for $2 – $3, alcoholic drinks for $6 – $7, or snacks from $3 – $5. A combination mixed drink + snack is $10.

American Airlines Meals and Snacks

American Airlines offers free cookies or pretzels in economy class on all domestic flights over 250 miles, as well as free meals on select longer domestic flights (Dallas/Fort Worth – Hawaii, New York JFK – San Francisco, and New York JFK – Los Angeles). Complimentary meals are also offered aboard flights between the U.S. and Europe, Asia, Australia/New Zealand, and some destinations in Latin America.

On other international and domestic flights, economy-class flyers can purchase items such as snack packs, sandwiches, and other light fare. Passengers in first or business class get free snacks, “Lite Bites,” or full meals, depending on the length and time of the flight.

Non-alcoholic beverages are free on all flights, while economy-class passengers will pay extra for alcoholic options. (These are free in first, business, and premium economy class.)

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Delta Meals and Snacks

Delta offers one complimentary snack on most economy-class flights, as well as a menu of for-purchase items such as Pringles chips, snack boxes, sandwiches, and fruit/cheese plates ($3.99 – $10.99) on U.S., Canada, Mexico, Caribbean, and Central America flights of at least three hours or 1,300 miles. Complimentary meals are available on flights from Atlanta or Minneapolis to Hawaii and on longer international flights.

First- and business-class passengers get complimentary snacks and/or meals, depending on the length of the flight.

Complimentary non-alcoholic drinks are offered on all flights. First- and business-class passengers get free alcoholic drinks.

Frontier Meals and Snacks

Ultra-discounter Frontier does not include any free snacks or beverages aboard its flights; instead, you can purchase these individually or in packages (such as coffee and a snack).

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Hawaiian Airlines Meals and Snacks

On most North American flights (except for red-eyes departing after 8:00 p.m.), Hawaiian Airlines serves a complimentary meal to passengers in economy class. On longer domestic flights between Hawaii and Boston or New York JFK, economy-class passengers get two complimentary meals. Drinks are also free in all classes of service.

JetBlue Meals and Snacks

JetBlue serves a variety of complimentary snacks and beverages in its economy-class cabins. Beer, wine, and cocktails cost $8 to $9. The airline’s boxed snacks cost $8 to $9 and are available on most flights longer than two hours. There’s also an EatUp Cafe selection (sandwiches, salad, cheese plate, etc.) on some flights to or from New York JFK, Boston, and Fort Lauderdale, with options ranging from $6 to $12. Fresh food selections are not available on overnight flights.

JetBlue’s premium cabin, called Mint, is available only on select transcontinental or international flights; fares in this cabin include complimentary meals, small plates, and alcoholic beverages.

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Southwest Meals and Snacks

Pretzels and non-alcoholic beverages are complimentary on all Southwest flights. Beer, wine, spirits, and mixed drinks cost $6 – $7. On longer flights, other complimentary snacks are available.

Passengers in Business Select get one free premium drink.

Spirit Airlines Meals and Snacks

Spirit charges for all food and drink onboard. Snacks and light meals (muffins, candy, chips, cheese tray) are offered for $3 – $8. Soft drinks, juice, and water cost $3. Hot drinks like coffee and tea are $2. Alcoholic beverages are $8 to $11. Select bundles (such as coffee and a snack or multiple alcoholic drinks) can be purchased for less than the cost of ordering a la carte.

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United Airlines Meals and Snacks

United offers complimentary meals in coach on most international flights. In coach class on North America flights over 1.5 hours (including flights to the continental U.S., Alaska, Hawaii, Canada, Central America, the Caribbean, and Mexico), snacks are available for purchase for $4 – $10. On Northern American flights over three hours (except for red-eyes departing after 8:00 p.m.), flyers can purchase more substantive options such as sandwiches, cheese trays, and hot breakfast dishes ($7 – $10).

In first or business class, meals and snacks are complimentary and vary based on the length of your flight and the time of day.

On all flights, soft drinks are complimentary. Economy-class passengers pay $7.99 to $9.99 for alcoholic beverages, while passengers in premium cabins, including Economy Plus passengers on select flights, enjoy these for free.

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Editor’s note: This story was originally published in 2017. It has been updated to reflect the most current information. Genevieve S. Brown contributed to this story.

By Sarah Schlichter

Deputy Executive Editor Sarah Schlichter's idea of a perfect trip includes spotting exotic animals, hiking through pristine landscapes, exploring new neighborhoods on foot, and soaking up as much art as she can. She often attempts to recreate recipes from her international travels after she gets home (which has twice resulted in accidental kitchen fires—no humans or animals were harmed).

Sarah joined the SmarterTravel team in 2017 after more than a decade at the helm of Sarah's practical travel advice has been featured in dozens of news outlets including the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, USA Today, Budget Travel, and Peter Greenberg Worldwide Radio. Follow her on Twitter @TravelEditor.

The Handy Item I Always Pack: "A journal. Even years later, reading my notes from a trip can bring back incredibly vivid memories."

Ultimate Bucket List Experience: "Road tripping and hiking through the rugged mountains of Patagonia."

Travel Motto: "'To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world.'—Freya Stark"

Aisle, Window, or Middle Seat: "Aisle. I get restless on long flights and like to be able to move around without disturbing anyone else."

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