I flew on a long-haul JetBlue flight and loved this free perk. I wish more airlines offered it.

Two JetBlue planes on a tarmac with trucks during sunset
JetBlue, United, and American Airlines have snack baskets on some long-haul flights.Joey Hadden/Business Insider
  • I flew internationally with JetBlue and loved the airline's "pantry" of free self-serve snacks.

  • Like JetBlue, United Airlines also has a snack station on select long-haul flights.

  • American Airlines has a similar system, but the snacks are only served during meal times.

I recently took an international JetBlue flight for the first time and spotted something I'd never seen on a plane before: a "pantry" of free self-serve snacks.

Really, JetBlue's pantry — located at the back of the economy section next to the bathrooms — is a basket with a selection of complimentary refreshments that are typically passed around by flight attendants.

While snacks, along with meals, were still served to me in my seat during the 7.5-hour flight from New York to Paris, I liked getting up and walking over to the pantry to pick up a bag of pretzels, chips, or a granola bar whenever I felt like it.

JetBlue isn't the only airline to offer a perk like this, but after my journey I found myself wishing that all long-haul flights had self-serve snack stations.

A blue basket of snacks and water bottles on a JetBlue flight.
A JetBlue Pantry on the author's long-haul international flight.Joey Hadden/Business Insider

Curious to learn more about JetBlue's pantry service, I reached out to Mariya Stoyanova, the airline's director of product development.

The self-service snack and beverage stations are available on long-haul domestic and international flights on Airbus A321neo and A321ceo aircrafts, Stoyanova told Business Insider over email.

The idea was to give customers a way "to personalize their travel experience," Stoyanova said in the same message, adding that the airline is implementing the refreshment stations on its Airbus A321LR as well.

The program started in 2014, and back then it was known as "The Marketplace," Stoyanova told BI. She said there's no limit on how many snacks and beverages each customer takes. (You can see a list of JetBlue's available refreshments here.)

A few airlines offer self-service snacks but I wish more did

On November 30, United Airlines launched a "Grab-N-Go" station on their new aircraft, Airbus A321neo, as BI previously reported.

In a statement, United said the self-service station has a limited amount of water and snacks provided on a first-come, first-serve basis on its flights that are longer than 801 miles.

And earlier this year, Air New Zealand announced that its new cabins on eight Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners will have a free Sky Pantry in 2024. The pantry in premium economy and economy will include snacks, fruit, and drinks, as BI's Monica Humphries reported in July.

American Airlines has a similar feature on some flights in the Americas. According to the company's website, flights between 500 and 899 miles have snack baskets available during meal times in first class, business class, and premium economy.

A spokesperson for American Airlines told BI that flight attendants pass around the basket on domestic flights and have a self-service station on international flights. Flights stock enough snacks for each passenger to have at least two items, they said.

Long-haul flights are exhausting, and with passengers flying to and from different time zones, hunger may hit people at different times.

Being able to grab a snack at any time is a clever system that makes a taxing journey a little bit easier. And I know it's a perk I'll be missing next time I fly on an airline without the service.

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