Continental Airlines made a bit of news in October when they finally discontinued their offering of complimentary "meals at meal times" on most domestic flights. The original announcement, made in March 2010, included the caveat that flights over 6 hours would still receive complimentary food. Once they realized that the transcon flights from Newark were included in that caveat it was adjusted to 6.5 hours, meaning all flights in the lower 48 were Food4Sale only.
But at least the longest domestic flights – Honolulu to Houston and Newark and Anchorage to Houston – were still offering complimentary meals. Not any more.
Effective March 1, 2011 (based on published timetable data) the Honolulu flights will switch to the Food4Sale options in coach. This brings Continental in line with merger partner United Airlines which has offered BoB for their Hawaii flights for a couple years now. It isn’t much of a surprise but it is certainly disappointing as a customer to see one more decent in-flight product degraded.
The silver lining on this change is that customers will arguably have more choices and better food in flight. Assuming that there is actually enough catered for everyone to eat, of course. If you’ve got a seat assignment in the back of the plane there is a very real chance that dinner could be a can of Pringles.
Next up will likely be the reallocation of aircraft to have domestic-configured planes operating the Hawaii routes, replacing the current BusinessFirst configured flights. It will be quite interesting to see if the combined carrier continues to try to extract a premium for the HNL service in the pointy end of the plane if they also cut one of the main attractions of that service, the big recliner seat.
The Houston-Anchorage flights still show complimentary food when the seasonal non-stop returns this summer but I’m betting that’s just an oversight or a system update that hasn’t been loaded yet.
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