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A stewardess serving drinks whilst passengers have lunch aboard a BEA Vickers Viking passenger plane, 1958.  Fox Photos/Getty Images

The rise and fall of decent airplane food

Tony Wagner Feb 2, 2016
A stewardess serving drinks whilst passengers have lunch aboard a BEA Vickers Viking passenger plane, 1958.  Fox Photos/Getty Images

American Airlines announced Monday it’ll bring back free snacks for passengers flying coach this year — welcome news to fliers who have been without pretzels, peanuts and cookies for more than 12 years.

By April all four airlines will be back to offering snacks, Bloomberg notes, after penny-pinching in the 2000s put them on the chopping block. Sure, economy-class passengers are that much closer to being treated like humans instead of cattle, but lest we forget, a decades ago you could order beef wellington on a plane. There were seafood platters, dessert carts and lamb. Now bad airplane food is a tired punchline, and a free cookie feels like a small victory.

How’d we get here? Let’s take a look back.

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