The decision will come into effect in early 2016 and affect only passengers that fly within the Americas. According to the airliner, economy customers flying early in the morning would be served a Dutch snack called stroopwafel, which is a delicious Dutch sweet food filled with caramel. Passengers leaving after 9:45 a. m. would be served savory snacks such as Cajun pretzels or Asian nibbles.
The shift, which was unveiled Wednesday, was reportedly a response to passengers’ request for free snacks, fly attendants’ wish to provide better service, and changes in the company’s policy made by the newly appointed CEO Oscar Munoz.
A spokesperson for the airliner disclosed that many passengers demanded better coffee and free snacks as a move to improve their in-flight experience. The company will now offer tea or free Italian coffee to budget travelers, as well.
When asked why it opted for the peculiar Dutch snack, the company replied that the stroopwafel complements perfectly the Italian coffee or tea. Passengers would get free snacks only on short routes that are not on international flight paths in both the U.S. and South America. The changes would be enforced starting February.
The company ended its free-snack policy for budget travelers in 2006. Four years later, United merged with Continental Airlines to create United Continental Holdings. That year free snacks were ditched by Continental Airlines, as well.
For international flights, the company still gives free meals. But economy class customers saw service steadily lose quality because of companies’ efforts to cut costs in order to keep ticket prices low. In 2008, United thought about introducing a fee for extra luggage, and most of airliners across the globe soon followed suit.
U.S. airlines also revamped their coach section so that it contains only ‘slim-line’ seats in order to be able to make room for an additional row. Companies said that the move didn’t affect their customers’ experience.
While American Airlines doesn’t have free snacks on its menu, Delta Air Lines and Southwest Airlines do. The two companies treat their couch travelers with free pretzels, peanuts, and cookies on every short route.
A United representative said Wednesday, when the move was first unveiled, that food plays a major role in enhancing customer experience. The spokesperson also said that the shift to free snacks is the result of a listening campaign that gathered feed-back from the airliner’s passengers and employees.
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