Today’s press release from US Airways caught my eye, and I wanted to mention it here. US Airways is introducing DineFresh, a program where Economy Class customers on certain international flights can order a premium meal in advance. According to US Airways, the new option “…enhances the airline’s current complimentary meal offerings.”

The new dining option includes complimentary wine, and offers either “a vegetarian meal consisting of a Caprese salad with balsamic dressing, Portobello mushroom tortellini, Mediterranean-style appetizer and turtle cheesecake for dessert or a protein meal consisting of citrus-marinated chicken skewers, seasonal grilled vegetables, classic shrimp cocktail and creme brulee cheesecake for dessert.” In addition, the airline is introducing new items in its US Airways MarketPlace menu of for purchase items on domestic and international flights.

The new international premium meal option will cost $19.99, and must be purchased 24 hours prior to the flight. According to US Airways, “customers traveling on flights where DineFresh meals are offered will be notified in advance via email as to their availability and can visit the following page to order:”

My take – I can’t believe it’s taken this long for a domestic airline to introduce an option like this for its long haul international flights. Given the industry’s focus on ancillary revenue, it would seem to me that this is a natural offering, and one that is overdue. I, for one, would gladly pay a reasonable price for a decent coach meal on a long haul flight. I think the next thing you will see is a similar option for pre-ordering meals on domestic flights. I suspect airlines have wanted to do something like this, but the behind the scenes technology solutions necessary to do so have proved challenging….or expensive. I also think it is telling that US Airways is the first domestic airline to offer this option to its customers on a semi-widespread basis. I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again. They’re not perfect, but they are the most underrated domestic US airline. Good on ’em for introducing this option.