A food fight is breaking out in the airline industry.
Airline seats and fares are so indistinguishable among the nation's major airlines that carriers often try to promote other services—such as onboard entertainment, food or airport lounges—to win over new passengers.
"It's always been a fight for airlines to decommoditize what is largely a commodity," said Seth Kaplan, a managing partner of the trade magazine Airline Weekly.
Take for example, Virgin America, the California-based airline that recently announced a posh new menu for first-class fliers. It includes hors d'oeuvres of roasted tomato, marinated artichoke heart, olive and mozzarella skewer, served with warm mixed nuts. Plus the carrier last week asked the public to vote on three choices for the airline's signature ice cream flavor.
United Airlines jumped into the fray with new gluten-free dishes, including salad dressing, snack boxes and fruit and nut bars.
And last month, Delta Air Lines added several low-calorie wrap sandwiches on transcontinental flights. The wraps are accompanied by multi-seed coconut chocolate chip cookies.