Continental was the only major airline to offer food and for nine years bucked the trend as other airlines cut meals from their flights and started offering food for purchase.
Most American airlines stopped serving free meals in economy class domestic flights after the September 11 terrorist attacks.
American Airlines and the now-defunct Trans World Airlines announced meals cuts only a week after the attacks and have not offered food on domestic flights since November 1, 2001.
Most airlines quickly followed suit as falloff from air travel caused by the attacks cut deeply into airline profits. Desperate to find ways to generate revenue and cut costs, the airlines started to take drastic cost-cutting steps and food was one of the first things to go.
Continental was the last major U.S. carrier to serve food. The airline will continue to offer free meals on its international flights and on a handful of domestic flights that exceed six-and-a-half hours. Drinks and meals also will continue to be complimentary for business and first class passengers.
Economy-class passengers, however, will only be offered a choice of non-alcoholic beverages, since complimentary snacks will no longer be provided on most routes.
In order to replace complimentary food items, Continental has unveiled a for purchase menu of hot and cold dishes with prices ranging from $1.50 for a can of Pringles to $8.25 for a chicken salad.
The carrier says its new menu will feature dishes similar to those served in a casual-dining restaurants.
According to the airline, the new menu is a result of customer feedback that requested that the airline offer more food choices on flights. Continental said it spent years researching restaurant trends in order to create a menu that would appeal to its customers.
By Adriana Padilla for PeterGreenberg.com
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