Hot, plated meals are officially making a comeback on Delta flights

Feb 17, 2022

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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with additional information.

The countdown is on until hot meals return to Delta’s domestic and short-haul international flights.

Starting in March, the airline will begin phasing in hot meals for eligible premium-cabin routes, as first reported exclusively by TPG on Jan. 26.

Now, the airline is sharing a bit more detail about what flyers can expect.

Delta will start rolling out hot meals for routes 1,500 miles or greater, followed shortly thereafter with flights longer than 900 miles. This applies to all domestic premium cabins, as well as those flying to and from Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean.

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Flights under 900 miles will retain the current experience — namely, a complimentary beverage service (with beer, wine and liquor), as well as a choice of snacks.

Delta’s new hot meal options (Photo courtesy of Delta)

While the rollout will begin on March 1, the airline isn’t committing to a firm timeline of when it’ll be completed. The latest plan calls for first-class passengers on routes 900 miles and longer to enjoy hot food options onboard by the end of April 2022.

When the airline originally confirmed the news to TPG back in January, it shared a one-week timeline for rolling out the meals systemwide. Now, that date has seemingly slipped, as the airline isn’t ready to put a firm date on when the switchover to hot food will be complete.

It’s possible that the timeline is still subject to change depending on the supply chain and staffing at each catering station. As such, if you’re flying with Delta in the coming weeks, don’t necessarily expect a hot meal upfront.

That said, the airline is already teasing some of the new menu items, and they sound quite appetizing.

Some of the entree options will include ginger beer-braised osso bucco, wild mushroom ravioli, chicken cacciatore and French bread pizza. For select Atlanta departures, flyers can enjoy barbecue beef short ribs from hometown favorite Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q.

Meanwhile, for dessert, Delta will offer a selection of treats ranging from ricotta cheesecake to frozen Greek yogurt with cherry syrup to a strawberry rhubarb and pretzel tart.

Of course, we’ll have to wait to taste the food at altitude, but it’s definitely a welcome move for Delta flyers, who’ve missed hot meals for nearly two years. Delta cut most of its onboard service at the outset of the pandemic, and the airline has been slowly bringing back elements of its pre-pandemic offerings.

In fact, the airline already brought back hot meals for select domestic premium flights, including on coast-to-coast service between Boston (BOS) and New York-JFK and Los Angeles (LAX), San Francisco (SFO) and Seattle (SEA).

Transcon passengers have been enjoying selections from popular restaurants like L.A.-based Jon and Vinny’s and San Francisco-based Souvla since last summer.

In fact, TPG was recently invited for a behind-the-scenes tour of Delta’s inflight meal commissary in the New York area, in partnership with Union Square Events.

Delta’s inflight catering operation in New York (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Delta shared the following list of its catering partners for the return of hot meals in domestic first-class, and those departing from Detroit (DTW) and Boston (BOS) are likely in for a treat, as the airline is contracting with Do&Co — a fan-favorite caterer – in those two cities.

  • Atlanta (ATL) — Mainline Aviation and Newrest.
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Caramelized Productions.
  • New York-JFK – Union Square Events.
  • Seattle (SEA) – Gate Gourmet.
  • Detroit (DTW)/Boston (BOS) — Do&Co.

Bringing back “real” first-class meals comes as Delta is playing catch up with American and United, both of which already resumed serving hot food in the pointy end of the plane. United also recently expanded its popular pre-order option, so travelers can reserve their preferred entree well before the flight.

Meanwhile, American Airlines began the switchover to hot food on Wednesday, Feb. 16, starting with routes longer than 1,500 miles.

Hot food in American first class (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

The meals served in American first class on day one were quite appetizing, and we look forward to giving Delta’s latest onboard fare a try in the coming weeks.

Featured photo courtesy of Delta Air Lines.

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