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American Airlines To Restore Free Snack Perks

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American Airlines photo. American Airlines photo.
NEW YORK -

After 15 years of near austerity, U.S. airlines are restoring some small perks for passengers crammed into coach.

Don't expect ample legroom or free checked bags. But fliers will find improved snacks, a larger selection of free movies and -- on a few select routes -- the return of free meals.

Monday, American Airlines became the latest carrier to add something back. It announced the return of free snacks in the economy section and more free entertainment options on some aircraft.

American, which recently merged with US Airways, hasn't offered free snacks since 2003. US Airways stripped passengers of snacks in 2008.

Following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and the subsequent recession, airlines removed almost ever perk imaginable. Hot meals disappeared along with legroom, blankets and pillows.

"It was really about survival," says Fernand Fernandez, vice president of global marketing at American.

American Airlines news release

In February, American will start offering Biscoff cookies or pretzels to passengers flying between New York and San Francisco or Los Angeles. By April, those snacks will expand to all other domestic routes. In May, American will bring back full meal service for coach passengers between Dallas and Hawaii.

"We know that we have customers who select our airline based on price and we're really excited to offer them a product that is superior to choosing an ultra-low cost carrier," Fernandez says.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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