Delta replaces in-flight beverages with just bottled water

Credit: Peter Garritano/Delta

Credit: Peter Garritano/Delta

Meal services also suspended, replaced with snacks only

Delta Air Lines is replacing in-flight beverages with just bottled water on many of its flights, a move to "lessen physical touch points on board" amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Atlanta-based airline said beverages "will be individual bottled water only" on domestic and shorter international trips, with no plastic cups or ice and no soft drinks, juice or coffee. Alcohol also won't be served.

The airline is also removing any meal service on those flights, and in the main cabin it will instead offer two snacks.

The moves come as Delta also cuts back on its use of contractors and looks for other ways to rapidly cut costs  amid a steep decline in air traffic. The airline said last week it would cut flights by 70% and park about half of its planes as would-be travelers stay home to avoid exposure to COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

In first class and business class on long domestic flights and short international flights, Delta will replace meal service with pre-packaged, non-perishable snack boxes.

Delta also has removed all glassware, including champagne flutes and coffee mugs, from first class and business class. And it has suspended hot towel service.

The airline also said it is "evaluating adjustments for long-haul international flying."

Workers for airline catering contractors are being affected. Gate Gourmet Inc. disclosed cuts affecting 500 workers in Atlanta as of March 25, according to a state Department of Labor business layoff and closure listing.

Passengers can bring their own food and beverages on board. However, travelers cannot bring any alcohol to drink on board a flight, according to federal regulations.

Also, many concessions at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport have closed amid decreased traffic at the world's busiest airport.

Concessions will be concentrated at the centerpoint of each concourse, with the aim of keeping at least one restaurant and shop open on each concourse.

Travelers can bring solid food items through security checkpoints, as long as they are not liquids or gels, according to Transportation Security Administration regulations.

Delta is also closing some of its Sky Clubs and discontinuing shower service at airports. At Hartsfield-Jackson, Delta said it currently has clubs open on Concourses T, A, B and F.