United Continental Holdings

Remember airplane food? It's back on long Delta flights

Delta is bringing free meals back to economy class on some long U.S. flights after dropping them years ago to save money.

Delta said Thursday it will start serving meals to all passengers on 12 long-haul routes over the next several weeks.

Airlines took away free sandwiches and similar fare after two industry downturns in the decade of the 2000s. Delta was among the first to drop meals in economy, in 2001, and all the other big U.S. carriers did the same by 2010.

Since then, the carriers have returned to profitability and gone on a spree of buying new jets and hiring more employees. But free meals in economy have remained scarce except on international flights and...