Rookie Wednesday: Post #100 – Delta FOOD! What are all the options on Delta flights?

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RenesPoints Rookie

Welcome to a weekly feature on the Renés Points blog. Each week this series covers in a “rookie” way either a Delta or travel related theme and attempts to break down to a basic level each topic. You can read up on all the previous posts HERE. Now on to this week’s feature.

lunch 1s class delta ATL-SLC delta points blog 1

I don’t know if this is a crazy choice or the perfect choice for our 100th Rookie topic. Most folks just turn up their nose when you say airline food but you know what – Delta food really is GOOD (most times) and worth considering. Take the cold steak with potato salad as an example; I would order the above in a restaurant!

Also, I do call Delta out now and then when issues do arise and I will be sure to cover those for you. Let’s look at them one by one and break them down rookie style.

coach eats menu delta domestic coach food

First we have coach “dining”, ok, not dining but food. We also need to right away focus on a very important point when it comes to all the kinds of food you get – the distance and time matters. Notice that under 900 miles in the air you get basically nothing. I call biscoffs, peanuts and pretzels nothing as that is not food. Once you get over 900 miles there should be EATS choices. Limited, but choices. Once we get over 1400 miles between 5:AM-8PM you have even more!

updated when you get food in 1st class delta air lines

steak sandwich 1st class delta transcon atl-lax Mileage Run Delta Points travel blog rene MKE to LAX (6)

dinner msp-lax 1st class delta airlines delta points blog mileage run

Next we have domestic “1st” class or business class. Once again distance (900 miles) and especially TIME now matters. This is one of my BIG pet peeves about Delta business class domestic dining. If under 1400 miles Delta.com says:

“Between 5:00 a.m.-1:30 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. enjoy a full meal.” – Delta.com

So, scheduled takeoffs between 1:31PM-3:59PM get nothing but a snack basket full of candy, chips and sometimes a banana. Talk about disappointing on a long flight where you were hoping for food. The next cutoff is 8:01PM so plan for that.

Lastly we have 1400+ miles flights. Then the time 5:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m is the key factor for if you are going to get fed. Having said that, Delta does at times mess up and NOT cater those over 1400+ after 8:PM so just be ready that this DOES happen even though it should not according to Delta.com

delta trans con dining 1st class choices

Then we have transcon flights. To be specific we are talking about coast to coast not flights from say ATL-LAX. This is the “premium” JFK to LAX and other such non-stops. Here we are talking about in business a “light” version of an international service. In Economy Comfort coach you get a light meal and you can, in the rest of coach between 5 a.m. and 8 p.m, enjoy the EATS menu. You can even, on certain flights for an extra charge, order a real meal to enjoy! Not bad.

delta intercontinental business elite meals month by month

dinner and a movie

Then we have the long flights, that is the intercontinental flights. Here, depending on where you are going, that is East or West, the menu will be different. However, you start your flight with sparkling wine and cold nuts (so ovens can be ready for faster meal service once in air).

prawns business class 767-300 atlanta to europe delta points blog

Then you get an appetizer like cold shrimp & a soup, a good salad and then dinner. After dinner dessert as well as drinks.

dessert business class 767-300 atlanta to europe delta points blog

Then, depending on day or night flight, breakfast or a light sandwich or something similar pre-landing. If I were to have one complaint it would be this meal as it is often less than memorable.

delta specal needs meals

Have special needs for your meal? At least in business Delta does “try” to accommodate you, but these meals can be good and at other times so-so. They are better at the stock ones I have found.

A few other points that do come up. If you are upgraded, for whatever reason, you are entitled to the better food just like anyone else. Delta does not discriminate between a paid or upgraded or award ticket. If you are in the seat you get the food service.

Can you bring your own food aboard from home or from the airport? You bet, but that opens us up to another discussion about smelly food onboard when others do not have food!

sliders dinner atl-lax delta points blog

Sliders off Eats menu in 1st class

What if they run out of your meal choice before they get to you and how to avoid that. Delta, now and then but not consistently practices FEBO that is “Front Even and Back Odd” numbered flights. What you will find most times is they start in the front. I most times pick the middle area on long flights to make sure they don’t run out. Now if they do, you are just stuck with what they have. Sorry. You can, maybe, ask for something off the EATS menu but they often tell you NO to this request. You can then ask for some Skymiles from the hand unit since you are stuck with what there is. YMMV here – literally!

On the topic of payment, Delta is cashless or only cash. Er, what? On mainline jets they do NOT take cash. If you use your Delta AMEX card you can get 20% off food and such and that is a nice perk of the card. However, on the small regional jets they take ONLY cash. Silly to have both rules, but that is the way it is.

I think that just about hits all the most important points when it comes to Delta and dining. Considering the food is coming mostly pre-made, warmed up and from a tiny metal oven and cart I think Delta does a darn fine job at providing an enjoyable meal onboard! – René
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19 comments

  1. As a frequenter of ‘coach’, and when I travel overseas, I always request a ‘special’ meal. They do not run out because the meal is for you and you get it before the other meals are served. They did give mine away one time and I was given a 5000 mile voucher. Us silver and Golds read this column as well….

  2. Are Luvo wraps free in EC on cross country flights? They used to be, but FA’s say no. However, DL cust svc via email says yes.

  3. On a transatlantic flight (JFK-DUB) that leaves at 8:58pm and arrives at 8:30am, what dining options are available for economy comfort?

  4. @Deborah – You always get food on transatlantic flights. Dinner and breakfast (or lunch). Standard choices unless you request another meal type. Mostly chicken dish or pasta dish.

  5. said it before and saying it again – always order special meals on longhauls. you get your meal and drink service first, your meal is what you ordered, served piping hot, if you eat quickly and stow your tray, you have a shot at a second meal when they come around to serve all the sheep (if not, your guaranteed another drink if you ask), you are free to use the lav while everyone else dines (after the cart passes) – no lines, no rush, and lavs still clean. about 30-45 min after meal service, lavs use picks up and stays up for the balance of the flight and then it is you sitting in your seat weighing how bad you have to go with how the line looks and if your seatmate is asleep. Meanwhile, lavs go heavily used, become a stinky swampy soaked place you really don’t want to go until you determine it is impossible to not go. At this point, if you are on China Southern, look around for unused napkins as the lavs will be out of TP and no one will inform the flight attendants (who, at that point, sigh as they were on break, and give you 5 napkins, you say, no, they are all out, for everyone, and she gets up off her rear and hands you 3 rolls of TP, making you the hero of economy worthy of a shoulder lift and front of the line pass. well, all except that last part. The old lady who looked like she could barely walk when preboarding suddenly got a burst of energy to snake in ahead of you, emerging 12 minutes later with the ultimate poker face.

    back to the food service – i fancy the hundu, vegetarian hindu, and halal, and vegetarian halal options. Curries, rice, beans – always good. With the non-vegetarian selections, you always risk some sort of baked fish (I’d putt odds at 1:4 for the fish- YMMV).

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