Airline food may be coming full circle. Continental Airlines says it is introducing a new line of meals and snacks for economy class passengers on select flights.

But unlike the old days, when airline food was complimentary, these meals will come with a check.

The new food-for-purchase menu will replace the complimentary meals and snacks currently served in the economy cabin on the select routes. Continental will continue to offer complimentary food in the economy cabin on all intercontinental and certain other international routes, and on long-haul domestic routes over six and a half hours.

Continental says its new menu will feature a variety of "high-quality, healthy food choices" available for purchase in economy class on select flights beginning Oct. 12, 2010. The new meals and snacks will be offered on many U.S./Canada and certain Latin American routes, the airline said.

On the menu

According to Continental, the menu will include freshly prepared hot and cold mealtime selections similar to those served in casual-dining restaurants, such as Asian-style noodle salad, grilled chicken spinach salad, Angus cheeseburger, and Jimmy Dean sausage, egg and cheese sandwich. Snack and dessert options -- including a gourmet cheese & fresh fruit plate, several types of snack boxes, a la carte brand-name snacks and chocolate-covered Eli's Cheesecake on a stick -- will also be available for purchase.

Prices will range from $1.50 for Pringles Original Potato Crisps to $8.25 for the grilled chicken spinach salad.

"The new menu is a direct result of feedback from our customers, who told us they wanted more food choices on our flights," said Sandra Pineau-Boddison, Continental's vice president of food services. "With that in mind, Continental researched trends in the restaurant industry and tested and tasted a broad range of possible menu items in order to provide dining options that reflect today's customer preferences."

Continental will continue complimentary food service in the front cabin (first class and BusinessFirst) on routes worldwide. Traditional non-alcoholic beverages will continue to be complimentary on every Continental flight, the airline said.

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