The Differences Between Delta’s & Southwest’s “Express” Cabin Service

by joeheg

I experienced something new on my flights to Atlanta. On both trips, when the flight attendant announced the start of the in-flight service they said we’d get “express” service due to the short flight time.

That’s understandable as the 438-mile trip only takes a little over an hour in the air.

However, Delta and Southwest handled the situation differently and it made a difference.


Here’s what Delta offered for flights of 251-499 miles.

  • All passengers on flights over 251+ miles will be able to enjoy our snack selection (sweet/savory).
  • Coffee, tea, and 8oz bottled water will be available in all cabins.
  • Delta Comfort+ and First Class customers will receive complimentary beer and wine service.
  • Other beverages, including Coca-Cola mini cans, juices, and mixers will be available for First Class customers.

I took a pack of Biscoff cookies and passed on the beverage because I brought my own water bottle.


Southwest took a different approach to the cabin service for a short flight. As soon as they were able, the cabin crew came around with a notepad and asked each passenger what they would like to drink. Shortly thereafter, they returned from the galley with a tray of drinks. In addition, each passenger was offered a pack of Southwest snack mix.

On flights that are less than 175 miles, Southwest offers water to passengers.


I found it interesting on how the two airlines handled a similar situation differently. Delta offers limited service to flights under 500 miles. In comparison, Southwest offers a full selection of beverages but changes how they provide the service to improve efficiency. Only on very short flights does Southwest only offer water to passengers.

What do you think about the limited service that airlines provide on shorter flights? How short of a flight would you’d agree there isn’t enough time to do the usual service?

Feature Photo (cropped): Saschaporsche / Wikipedia / CC BY-SA 3.0

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary


Jason September 24, 2022 - 3:57 pm

Despite Southwest policy, I’ve found they rarely do any service even for flights up to 500 miles. They always claim potential turbulence.

Randy September 26, 2022 - 5:31 pm

I remember when Delta used to serve a meal in coach on the ATL-MCO flight. How times have changed!!!


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