United Airlines has come up with another way to curb losses from record fuel prices: scrap free coach meals on Europe-bound flights.
The carrier will test the food purchase option in economy class on flights to Europe from Washington Dulles starting Oct. 1.
United will not eliminate free coach meals from Dulles to Kuwait because of the 12-hour flight time, and plans to survey customers before making a decision on other international flights, according to a memo from management to employees.
"These changes are difficult, but necessary, and we do not make them lightly," the memo said.
Food in first and business class on all international flights will remain free of charge.
On international flights, onboard costs for economy-class passengers will be $6 for snack boxes of cheese, fruit, yogurt and a pastry; and $9 for salads and sandwiches.
United also will eliminate free snacks in the coach cabin of North American flights between 760 miles and 1,149 miles, replacing them with snacks for sale, effective Sept. 2.
On Oct. 1, the airline will boost prices for fresh items sold onboard from $7 to $9; non-perishable food products will jump to $5 from $6.
The carrier also will eliminate a second snack service before arrival on transcontinental routes between New York and Los Angeles or San Francisco and replace it with a beverage-only service.