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Continental debuts food-for-purchase menus

By Natalie Avon, CNN
Continental Airlines' food-for-purchase program launches October 12.
Continental Airlines' food-for-purchase program launches October 12.
  • Continental announces new food-for-purchase program
  • Airline is eliminating free food in economy class on many routes
  • Complimentary meals will still be available on very long and intercontinental flights
  • Air Travel

(CNN) -- Continental Airlines will no longer provide complimentary meals and snacks to economy passengers on domestic flights shorter than 6½ hours and some international flights.

On Monday, the airline announced a menu and pricing for its new food-for-purchase offerings, which will debut October 12.

"Customers were asking for more variety," said Mary Clark, spokeswoman for Continental.

Grilled chicken spinach salad, Asian-style noodle salad and Angus cheeseburgers are among the menu offerings. Prices will range from $1.50 for chips to $8.25 for the grilled chicken salad.

Complimentary food service will still be available in first class and BusinessFirst on all routes worldwide, and free non-alcoholic drinks will continue to be offered to all passengers.

As for economy, complimentary food will be available only on flights longer than 6½ hours, some international flights and all intercontinental flights, Clark said. This includes Houston, Texas, to Anchorage, Alaska, and Newark, New Jersey, to Hawaii, for example, as well as some Latin routes, depending on length and destination.

"There is a cost-savings benefit to it," she said. "It's not a revenue-generating idea, but it will give customers what they're looking for as well as reduce the cost."

Though Clark said she was unsure whether Continental was the last major U.S. airline to offer complimentary meals to all passengers, she doesn't see the transition as negative.

"It's something that we know our customers value when they travel," Clark said. "We definitely see it as a customer benefit."