Positive American First Class Catering Changes Coming

As most of you probably know by now, American and US Airways aligned their domestic catering as of September 1, 2014. For American flyers, these changes haven’t been pretty.

American-Catering-101

While I’m not usually someone that has a lot to say about domestic airline food, I’ve been pretty vocal about these changes, based on my flights since September 1:

American-First-Class-Sandwich-1
American’s current first class “sandwich”

Anyway, I just received communication from American that they plan to further refine their domestic catering, and best I can tell the changes are all positive.

Here’s what I’m being told:

  • American will be adjusting meal tray service to flights of about 2:30 hours; they will also maintain tray service on exception markets as previously announced and add additional markets to include ORD-AUS; DCA/IAD-MIA and DFW-MEX.
  • On flights of about 2:00 to 2:30 hours, American will offer warmed mixed nuts in addition to a redesigned snack basket containing only a choice of higher quality sandwiches, Milano cookies and bananas. On early morning flights, the basket will be adjusted to include breakfast-type breads, fig bars, apples and bananas.
  • American will reinstate ice cream dessert service on dinner flights of about 3:30 hours or more. This was a signature element of American’s service and they are bringing it back to match the prior standard.

American-Meal-4
American will be bringing back mixed nuts on flights of 2:00 to 2:30 hours in length

So what exactly is changing here?

  • The minimum flight time for a meal switches from about 2:45 to about 2:30, and American is adding further exception markets
  • On flights of 2:00 to 2:30, American previously just offered a snack basket, but will now offer hot nuts and “higher quality sandwiches”
  • Ice cream will return on flights of over 3:30, as opposed to the cake American has been serving since September 1

American-Meal-2
Ice cream will be replacing cake on flights of 3:30 hours and longer

In terms of when we can expect to see these changes, the tray service on shorter flights and additional exception markets begin October 16, while all other changes should start around November 1.

Bottom line

Kudos to American on these changes. They’re ultimately not game changers, though it’s nice to hear that they’re listening. I certainly welcome the return of hot nuts and ice cream (even if my waistline doesn’t), along with the return of meals on slightly shorter flights. And I’m also happy that they specifically reference “higher quality” sandwiches.

 

Comments

  1. I appreciate that American is listening and making changes and hope they continue to do so — the FA’s are horrified at what they’ve had to serve recently and have all encouraged me to write and complain (and I have). I’d like to see them revise that chicken and beef, however — they’re flat out inedible and a pretty shocking downgrade from what was served previously.

  2. Had that beef from ORD-DCA this past Thursday. Despite the cut being a little…cheap…the flavors were perfectly fine. Everyone I saw in first who ordered it, finished it.

    Definitely not “inedible.”

  3. But no change to the frozen dinners consisting of gloppy low-quality meat in gross sauce? That’s a new problem not addressed by this response from AA.

  4. Nothing to celebrate here. The real problem is the downgrade in the *quality* of what’s on offer.

    That’s a longer lead fix, so don’t stop the complaints and hope they get their act together there.

    This is still a massive downgrade versus pre 9/1 for AA fliers. For me, the AA advantage on meals is still gone.

  5. @ Nick — Maybe it was better out of the station your beef was catered. But I can assure you the one I had on my flight *was* inedible.

  6. I’ve also had the “beef” – it was more like a bad pot roast. It wasn’t pretty but I did manage to finish half of it – would have preferred not to, but I was hungry…

  7. Positive changes indeed.

    The most important note here is that they actually listened. More importantly – we (the premium fliers) need to keep up the pressure. If the new sandwiches aren’t any better – be sure to complain. If the entrees continue to be of incredibly low quality, complain!

    AA follows Twitter very carefully (I don’t know about US.) Also, the AA FAs have a feedback form on their snazzy electronic pads – ask your FA in F to write up any complaints you have about the food..it goes directly to the folks who need to hear those thoughts.

    USAA will not just up and decide to spend more money to improve things. They have to be compelled to do so. And hearing from premium customers is exactly the impetus they need.

    Thanks for keeping us updated Lucky.

  8. Doug Parker for a long time served Hot Pockets with potato chips as the F meal at America West (even on routes like PHX-JFK). And only on flights over three hours. Below that you got nothing, which actually was better than eating a Hot Pocket!

  9. @Alex When Doug Parker took over at HP, he didn’t make much changes at first, but did make very positive changes in catering, Having flown HP for years the Sea Bass that was served was just as good as 5 star restaurant. After the HP/US merger is when the whole low cost thing happened, but the food was still good, Having been CP with US for 5 years I have eaten my fair share of meals, and I would put some of the breakfasts US served against AA’s breakfast anyday…

  10. Good for them for listening, although the cynic in me thinks this was all part of their master PR plan 😉

    I recognize that “sandwich”, though it’s about twice the size of the ones my wife and I were served last week. It was an embarrassingly small piece of ham on a frigging dinner roll.

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