Alaska flyers will soon be able to pre-order, pay for meals with an app

Aug 25, 2020

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I still remember my first flight on Virgin America, with the carrier taking me from New York-JFK to the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, way back in January 2010.

At the time, U.S. airlines had yet to fully embrace technology. Virgin offered seat-back screens with the ability to order snacks and drinks without pressing the flight attendant call button — it was a posh experience, and something I never expected to disappear. In fact, thanks to digital receipts, I still have the order in my inbox — a fruit, veggie and cheese tray for $8.

Sadly, Virgin America is long gone, having been absorbed by Alaska Airlines in early 2018. But a version of that digital meal-order offering is now making its way to Alaska Airlines flights as part of the carrier’s touch-free pandemic response.

Seat-back ordering had become a mainstay on Virgin America. Photo by Eric Rosen for The Points Guy.

Alaska Airlines previously offered meal pre-ordering in first class, but suspended the option as part of its initial COVID-19 cuts. Now, first-class flyers once again have that option on flights of two hours or more. Further, meal pre-ordering will soon be available in Premium and economy, too, via Alaska’s website and mobile app.

Once full meal service returns to the economy cabin — a small snack and soft drinks are available now — passengers will also be able to use their phone to pay for their meals. That will allow customers to avoid handing over a credit card to the crew.

As airlines work to evolve their service during the pandemic, hopefully more U.S. airlines will roll out app-based meal ordering and payment — a feature we’ve come to love on carriers that offer it overseas, including Norwegian’s 787 Dreamliner fleet.

Featured photo courtesy of Ingrid Barrentine/Alaska Airlines.

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