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Free Snacks Are Back on United Airlines

The friendly skies are a little friendlier now that United Airlines is bringing back free snacks to coach.
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After years of no free snacks in coach, United Airlines is trying to make the skies a little bit friendlier. The airline announced Wednesday that it is bringing back free snacks in coach.

The Chicago-based carrier cut the passenger perk, once considered de rigueur, back in 2008 as a cost-savings measure – one that the airline estimated saved them about $2.5 million a year.

The airline’s announcement comes as it prepares to bring illycaffe coffee to flights and United Club locations worldwide next summer.

"We're refocusing on the big and little things that we know matter to our customers," said Jimmy Samartzis, United's vice president of food services and United Clubs. Free snacks, he said, "add that extra level of service our employees will be proud to deliver and will make a big difference for our customers."

The in-flight snacks will be offered on all of United’s flights in North America, the Caribbean and between Honolulu and Guam that did not already have a complimentary meal or snack option in coach class.

And the treats are going beyond the usual bag of peanuts or pretzels.

Passengers flying before 9:45 am will get a "stroopwafel," which the company describes as a “Dutch caramel-filled waffle that pairs perfectly with coffee or tea.” They even have a helpful video on the United’s website demonstrating how to heat up your stroopwafel by resting it atop a cup of your favorite hot beverage.

For flights departing after 9:45am, fliers will get “packaged savory snacks” like a mix of rice crackers, sesame sticks and wasabi peas, or a ranch mix of mini-pretzel sticks.

Most other airlines still serve some kind of complimentary snack. Delta serves its Biscoff cookies along with other options and JetBlue flight attendants come around with a basket full of sweet and savory snacks giving passengers as many as they want.

The move comes as new United CEO Oscar Munoz has tried to put customer service in the spotlight at the carrier, acknowledging that “the implementation of the United and Continental merger has been rocky for customers and employees.”