Travelers flying on Delta Air Lines Inc. (NYSE:DAL) will soon be enjoying another perk. The company announced that it is resuming free meals in coach on 12 transcontinental U.S. routes. The complimentary meals will debut starting on March 1.
In the morning, customers will be able to choose from several items, including a honey-maple breakfast sandwich and a fruit-and-cheese plate. At other times of the day, the options will include a turkey combo and a veggie wrap. Customers responded enthusiastically to a test program on select flights for the complimentary meals in November and December.
Coach customers flying on routes from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport to Los Angeles and San Francisco will be the first ones to get the free meals. The offering will expand to another 10 cross-country flights out of New York, Boston, Seattle and Washington on April 24.
While many carriers offer free meals on long-distance international routes, most U.S. airlines had abandoned giving free meals in coach by 2010. Last year, both Delta and American Airlines Group Inc. went back to serving complimentary meals in coach on their longest routes from mainland U.S. to Hawaii.
Offering free meals on transcontinental flights helps Delta justify charging higher fare than competitors. Last year, Delta earned 9 percent more revenue for each seat flown a mile than its competitors.
The airline also announced that its 80,000 employees will receive more than $1.1 billion in profit sharing for the third year in a row. The payout represents about 10 percent of Delta employees’ gross income. The sum marks the second-biggest payout in the company’s history
According to Delta’s profit-sharing program, the company returns about 10 percent of profits to employees. If the airline makes over $2.5 billion a year, the return increases to 20 percent. According to Delta, it has paid out about $5 billion through its profit-sharing program over the past five years.
Beginning in April, some Delta employees will receive a 6 percent pay increase, according to an announcement made by the company last November. In total, the carrier’s workers have seen their base pay increase by nearly 25 percent since 2015.
In the U.S. Department of Transportation’s February Air Travel Consumer Report, Delta outperformed other major carriers in on-time performance and was second only to Hawaiian Airlines. Delta flights arrived within 14 minutes of scheduled arrival time 81.4 percent of the time in February. Hawaiian had 85.1 percent of flights arrive on-time. American Airlines came in third with 79.1 percent.