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Airline Food? Coronavirus Keeps Pretzels off the Tray Table

To eliminate touch points, airlines are looking into safety measures that include doing away with food

by Business Traveler

March 27, 2020

As US airlines cut flights and continue to slim staff and crew, they are also changing their food and beverage policies to keep pace with the fast moving news surrounding the spread of the deadly Coronavirus.

Southwest recently announced that it would distribute only unopened cans from the beverage cart and eliminate the snack packet service all together, at least until further notice.

Delta Air Lines joined with a “streamlined” approach:

• Two snack offerings across Main Cabin and Delta Comfort+, as well as in First Class on flights less than 900 miles.

• First Class and Delta One meal service on U.S. domestic and short-haul international flights greater than 900 miles will now be replaced by individually pre-packaged, non-perishable Flight Fuel boxes with two snack offerings.

• Beverages will be individual bottled water only – no alcohol offerings – across all cabins, with plastic cups and ice also removed during this time.

• Preselect and Special Meal service will be temporarily suspended.

Delta previously announced the following temporary onboard changes across all U.S. domestic and international flights:

• All glassware, including coffee mugs and champagne flutes, from First Class and Delta One have been removed.

• Hot towel service has been temporarily suspended in all cabins.

Passengers are still welcome to bring their own food onboard.

In the same period of time, American Airlines saw the death of one of its flight attendants yesterday. A 65-year-old crew member was based in Philadelphia and died from complications of COVID-19. The news struck the airline particularly hard in a time that is elevating fears in the industry and on the ground. Lessening touch points between passengers and crew is one way to curtail these incidents.

Meanwhile, airlines continue to cut routes and suspend domestic and international flights. Delta Air Lines announced a spate of such changes this week. Here is a partial list:


Service between Honolulu and Atlanta, Minneapolis and Salt Lake City ended Thursday; service between Seattle and Kona is suspended as of today and service between Seattle and Kauaʻi will be suspended as of April 2.


Service from Salt Lake City to Calgary was suspended on March 24. Service from Seattle to Calgary gets suspended today.

Service from Minneapolis and New York-LGA to Montreal was suspended on March 24. Service from Atlanta to Montreal will end on April 2.

Service from Cincinnati and Salt Lake City to Toronto was suspended as of March 24. Service from Minneapolis to Toronto ends today.

Service from New York-LGA to Ottawa was suspended as of March 24.

Service from Salt Lake City and also Atlanta to Vancouver was suspended as of March 24. Minneapolis to Vancouver service ends today.

Latin American and Caribbean Schedule Changes

Service between Atlanta and Buenos Aires suspended as of March 17.

Service to Aruba was suspended yesterday.

Service to Eleuthera and Exuma ends today.

Service to Nassau will be suspended  April 1.

Service between Atlanta and Belize was suspended as of March 24.

Service between New York-JFK and Boston to Bermuda was suspended as of March 21.

Service from Atlanta to Bermuda was suspended as of March 25.

Service to Bonaire ended March 23.

Service between Atlanta and Rio de Janeiro will be suspended on March 29.

Service from Atlanta to Santiago was suspended March 25.

Service from Atlanta to Bogota was suspended after March 22.

Service from Atlanta to Cartagena ended on March 22.

Service between New York-JFK and Bogota was suspended as of March 19.

Delta’s service between the U.S. and Costa Rica was reduced to one daily flight from 15 flights per week to San Jose and two flights per week between Atlanta and Liberia. Los Angeles to San Jose service was reduced from daily to two flights per week and Los Angeles to Liberia service suspended. Minneapolis/St. Paul to Liberia service was suspended as well.

Following the Dominican Republic closing its borders for international arrivals effective March 19, Delta will operate a limited schedule of flights back to the U.S. only.

Find a complete list of Delta’s suspensions and reductions here.