American and United Airlines are bringing back free snacks for everyone

Take what you can get.
Take what you can get.
Image: United Airlines/Terry Halsey
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In the land of the travel-weary, the well-snacked man is king.

Soon coach passengers on American and United Airlines will have one less thing to complain about: the hours spent airborne without anything to munch on. Starting Monday (Feb. 1) complimentary bites return to economy class on both airlines for the first time since 2011.

On Monday, American Airlines brought back free nibbles on transcontinental trips, with a plan to have them available on all flights by April. Over at United they’re now available on all flights.

The pickings are hardly a gourmand’s paradise: Passengers on American flights that take off before 9:45am will receive Belgian Biscoff cookies (which are also offered on Delta flights), and throughout the rest of the day have a choice between those and pretzels. United will offer another European transplant—the Dutch caramel-stuffed stroopwafel—in the morning and snack mixes in the afternoon.

Now all four major American carriers—including Delta and Southwest—will serve free snacks in economy.

It may not sound like much (on Southwest, it’s literally peanuts) considering that free snacks used to be a staple of flying. But given that domestic air travel in the US is back to its pre-2008 financial crisis levels, airlines may be looking for any way to stand out.