American’s “Lobster Roll” — The Worst Airline Meal Ever?

I’m actually being too generous with the title in calling it a “lobster roll.” It was more like a “lobster” “roll.”

I have low expectations of American’s catering. Yes, even in business class on their “premium” A321 transcon flights. But yesterday I was served what might just be the worst meal I’ve ever been offered in a premium cabin.

I was a bit surprised to see a lobster roll on the business class menu between Los Angeles and New York. However, I saw it on the menu before my flight and figured I had to pre-order it, since I was very curious to see how good of a job they’d do preparing it.

When I flew in the Etihad Residence I special ordered a lobster roll, per a reader’s suggestion. Why? Because making a good lobster roll on the ground is tough, let alone at 35,000 feet. Fortunately Etihad passed the test with flying colors, and the lobster roll was phenomenal.

Etihad-Residence-Requests - 1

Now let’s look at American’s lobster roll, which was described as a “lobster roll with sweet potato chips.” Here’s what I was served:

When I was served the dish I thought there was a mistake.

“I’m sorry, I think there’s a mistake. I ordered the lobster roll.”
“Yes, that’s it.”
“This is the lobster roll?”
“Yes.”

Not that it’s the flight attendant’s fault, but she didn’t seem to have the slightest clue as to how that might be disappointing.

What was even worse was when I opened the sandwich. There was about as much lobster meat on the sandwich as you’d get in a tub of butter. It sort of tasted like they took soggy pieces of bread and then spread butter with tiny particles of lobster on it.

Never mind the sauce in the aluminum cup, the fact that there was no side of chips as advertised, etc.

When the flight attendant collected the dish I asked “is this the normal lobster roll?”

“You got lucky, we ran out of the business class ones, so that’s the first class lobster roll.”

THIS IS WHAT AMERICAN SERVES IN THEIR THREE CABIN FIRST CLASS?!? Does American have a new catering contract with Amy’s Baking Company (RIP)?

Comments

  1. Wow. That looks truly disgusting. It’s breakfast time here in the eastern time zone, and I almost lost my breakfast. This is why I enjoy flying Delta domestically. At least the food has a prayer of being edible.

  2. The more I fly the more I try to eat at the airport before boarding my flights. I rather spend my time on board working or sleeping.

  3. Thanks. I’ve pre-ordered the lobster roll on the red eye next week. Looks like i should feel no guilt going straight to sleep.

  4. Haha. This hilarious. I actually pre-ordered the lobster roll to check it out on first class flight but I changed my flight last min to a later flight and it wasn’t offered on the late night menu. Seems I was spared.

  5. “see, a “grandma” would have known what a real lobster roll looks like……”

    It was a grandma………..he was flying American.

  6. Bahahahaha….. a mcd’s burger would’ve been much better. Then again, you got lucky, they served you a first class lobster…. hahahaha….
    Lesson learned: never complain or even ask anything about food with grandmas!!!! Hahahahaha…..

  7. Yuck! I would be disgusted if I was served that in economy class, let alone first class. Every economy class meal I have had recently looks much better than this. This meal for sure should be one of your worst airline meals. It would be interesting to hear a list of your top 10 worst airline meals, to see how something like this compares.

  8. This reminds me of when I was surprised to see chicken and waffles on a transcon biz flight last month and ordered it to see how they translates that to 35k feet in the air.

    What came back was essentially a microwaved chicken tender (literally one tender) and an Eggo. Horrendous.

  9. It looks like exactly the same thing I had in transcon first class and it was called “grill lobster and cheese sandwich”. But I guess the name doesn’t matter. It was my first time on AA and surely one of the worst meal I have ever had in a premium cabin, even the salad was gross.

  10. Why should they improve? Based upon the blogs and posts on FlyerTalk it appears that American Airlines fliers are a lot like BA fliers…..they constantly whine, but continue to give the same airline their business because of miles and status.

    AA knows their first class on domestic is mostly filled with loyalists who upgrade, so why should they spend any money on improving catering when they know these guys will keep buying their tickets?

  11. Even Amy and Sammy would be too ashamed to serve that mess. I would wager that the 10 year old cooks on MasterChef Junior could best this creation.

  12. When I think of good lobster rolls, I don’t think of LA, I don’t think of NYC, and I don’t think of anywhere in-between.

  13. I have never heard of a McLobster roll before as I haven’t lived in a region that could get “seafood” easily, but I looked them up. Even the candid shots taken by people who have purchased them look better than the ish you were served. Terrible.

  14. One of your readers has an interesting point, with the truly significant decline in service across the board at American Airlines over the last few years, why do flyers keep flying them? I know that while I will often look at AA fares first, it no longer is the determining factor in my choice. I kept thinking they are going through a cultural adjustment with the merger, but this level of low quality seems to be the status quo, now.

    Several Asian airlines routinely do domestic service at levels that make American’s seem almost third world. Bob Crandall must be livid. If he’s not, he’s not paying attention, anymore.

  15. Next time you hear/see any smear campaign against ME3, you know full well the root cause. Grandma made – Lobster roll!!! Hahahahahaha…..

  16. @Pat – “When I think of good lobster rolls, I don’t think of LA, I don’t think of NYC, and I don’t think of anywhere in-between.”

    Or above, for that matter.

  17. “You got lucky, we ran out of the business class ones, so that’s the first class lobster roll.” … WAIT!? That wasn’t sarcasm? I took that as the FA giving you crap for asking if it was the “normal one”. LMAO. Would hate to see the business class version.

  18. Lucky, thanks for the heads up. I have a snack flight on AA coming up and pre-ordered that thing. Looks like a return trip to the menu for me. The airline CEOs should be forced to eat their carp before putting it on the menu.

  19. I’m a little curious about what made the Etihad lobster roll so “phenomenal” (in italics, too!). It doesn’t look like any lobster roll I’ve eaten. A lobster roll is best consumed in New England, and definitely should never be eaten in the air.

  20. Looks like they’re trying to copy the Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup ftom the new snack menu of UA.

    Wow, that’s really a sorry looking thing.

  21. This reminds me of the old McDonalds cherry pie which was all cherry-flavored goop with a single cherry inside. Sad that AA confuses a $600+ flight with a 99 cent fast food item.

  22. @ Rob – Please stop touting Mint as the savior of biz class dining. I chose beef as one of my three selections, was served a chunk of fat and gristle with no trace of edible matter.

  23. I get why people with status fly AA. It makes total sense. Most of my experiences with AA have been pleasant. But my expectations remain really low, and if I enjoy the meal, I count myself lucky. I guess I don’t get why people think they are going to change. Of why they are always so outraged when AA falls short. Its like shopping at Walmart and then complaining about the service.

  24. AA63 CDG-MIA in paid Biz 772. My pre-order of beef filet was totally raw. I cut into the filet and asked FA if this was normal. She replied, “this is a French flight and they like their beef on the rare side”…….. it was unbelievably not cooked. (Took a photo wish I could share.)
    She did correct my confusion when replied, “I do not know anyone who would eat that”. I let it go. Enough food with peanuts, salad, bread and apps…. Probably healthier for me, anyway.

  25. Lucky, to me this seems like a miscater. My transcon lunch/snack menu a couple weeks ago had the option of a “lobster grilled cheese sandwich,” which seems like a more accurate description for what you were served.

    That said, the meal still looks rather sad.

  26. First thought: I can’t believe you actually thought there was a difference in the quality of the food between AA first and business. There is a difference in presentation, and the addition of a soup course, but the actual product is the same. In fact, their VGML is an identical main course in Y, C, and F.

    Second thought: Every airline, even the ME3, has a budget for premium meals. It’s kinda like school lunches, but with a slightly higher budget. I assure you, the budget for a “Residence” passenger is going to be significantly higher than a budget for a “First” or “Business” passenger. We all know that post-merger, the budget for AA food got cut. I would expect a real lobster roll would cost at least $15 to cater. There is literally no way any US airline is going to spend that on just the main course of one meal.

  27. @ Andy 11235 — So then maybe they shouldn’t put a lobster roll on the menu if it’s not within their budget?

  28. If that’s the first class lobster roll, I’d love to see what the business class lobster roll looks like.

  29. it’s clearly the lobster grilled cheese from AA’s menu, that’s why there’s (some semblance of) tomato soup on the side and you didn’t get the chips. the FA just didn’t realize it.

    either way, it looks like garbage.

  30. It’s fraud to call this a lobster roll – more like lobster by-products on bread with gunk. I wish AA would get over trying to impress their premium cabin passengers by passing this crap off as special or worse trying to compete with airlines offering excellent catering. The food was a whole lot better before all the “celebrity” chefs reworked the menus and perpetrated this fraud of high-end catering.

    Is this the worst? Not sure but I can report that AA lasagne is not edible and the steak served on TATL flights in J cabin is like shoe leather.

  31. A friend recently told me he bought a roundtrip transcon ticket in AA First for $3k. I made him cancel it immediately (he was within 24 hours) and booked him on Delta One instead. This perfectly highlights why I made him do that.

  32. At first I thought wow, finally a simple grilled cheese sandwich.

    Whats with trying to be fancy with food since they aren’t going to spend the money on it? Just give me simple things: Turkey sandwich, chicken sandwich, grilled cheese, etc.

    All of these weird and poorly done entrees are just a waste of time and money. Most of the time I eat the bread, maybe a bit of the meat and toss the rest.

    For a short flight you can bring your own food but w/o a refrigerator it is harder on a long flight.

    I complained to AA one time because I was in first class (paid) and we didn’t receive any meals due to a lengthy flight delay (guess the food went bad?). They said the food is complimentary so you aren’t entitled to any refund for it.

    I think too much time is spent trying to figure out how to do something fancy food wise in the air and it isn’t worth the trouble. Obviously some airlines are willing to spend the money on food but since most won’t, just keep it simple (sandwiches, basic salads or a simple pasta).

  33. That is, without exception, the worst-looking airline meal I’ve ever seen. AA’s meals and offerings just keep getting worse. Don’t know how they could make that one any worse.

  34. I find business class catering to be pretty bad on most airlines. Flew Emirates first from India to Dubai recently and the food was terrible. I just try to eat at the airport (or sometimes at a nice restaurant outside the airport) and stick to champagne and nuts on the flight.

  35. I’m sorry, I don’t understand why -anyone- would fly a legacy carrier on this route. JetBlue Mint completely blows AA and Delta One out of the water. (Newark is a pit, so disqualifying United, not that it’d matter.) Hell, I’d choose Mint for the free WiFi alone, to say nothing of the better seat, service, nicer terminal, etc.

    You have the option to go with a carrier with better service (I’ve had a couple meh dishes on Mint to be fair, but with 5 dishes to choose from if one’s bad just ask for another) , you chose to go with American airlines anyways, so it pretty much sums up why they think they can get away with it.

  36. Do not ever order the vegetarian squash noodles, or whatever crap voodles they serve on transcon. That is the worst meal on the AA menu.

  37. I can top that. On a First Class flight to Maui. 15 months ago, the steward came by to taker my dinner order. The only option, ‘lentils’. Not lentils as a side to something else, just ‘lentils’.BTW, I hate lentils. And the ‘entertainment console didn’t work.

  38. That is disgusting and should be pulled from all menus permanently. Hope you tweeted AA a pic of it.
    With AA or UA only reason for flying up front is for seat comfort, eat before hand.

  39. @lucky i agree they shouldn’t put it on their menu if they do not have the budget to do it the proper way.

  40. @Bob
    Lucky’s blog was linked in today’s New York Post article, there were some tweets about it too. So probably that’s the reason this one is getting rather high attention than it normally would. (nypost.com/2017/08/10/american-airlines-would-have-you-believe-this-is-a-lobster-roll/)

    Nevertheless, I had a good laugh with both, Lucky’s and readers comments And yes, what a sad looking sandwich that is.

  41. Their catering crew at AA should all be fired. What an insult to serve that. They will probably just blame SkyChefs. What an insult to Qatar and Etihad to have to be compared to these standards. Doug Parker is responsible for this.

  42. @Lucky – The New York Post just posted an article about your experience and mentioned you. They also said that AA sent you an apology! Is that true? (just out of curiosity)

  43. Hard to blame the flight attendant.

    If I had to serve that “slop” to passengers, I’d play dumb too.

  44. I would happily forego all food, wine, coffee, tea, entertainment, gifties, socks, amenities, Wifi, hot/cold towels, flowers in the johns, dedicated storage space, everything “extra” if they would just provide a comfortable wide-enough seat with legroom.

    Basically, do it well or forget it.

  45. @Lucky Looks like AA responded to the NY Post article:

    You were served the Lobster grilled cheese with tomato soup. Otherwise known as vomit on toast with coagulated blood on the side. Sounds like AA is apologizing to you through the NY Post, no mention of contacting you directly to apologize. Or offering compensation. Or actually changing anything.

  46. @ Ben, 555 (ha ha ha)! Good post. That “lobster roll” looks disgusting. But it falls short on my worst-meals scale compared to the cold biscuit and no beverage I was served as “breakfast” or light meal on a China Eastern business-class flight from JFK -PVG! That fiasco even topped mush sandwich, or as AA called it, a BBQ beef slider, served as the pre-arrival meal in business class LHR-CLT. Take a look if you are interested.

    https://salsaworldtraveler.com/2017/05/13/china-eastern-airlines-777-300er-business-class-new-york-ny-jfk-to-shanghai-china-pvg/

    https://salsaworldtraveler.com/2017/04/26/american-airlines-a330-300-business-class-london-england-lhr-charlotte-nc-clt/

  47. Years ago, they use to serve lox, bagel and cream cheese for BK in first class even out of small airports to DFW, even included capers and red onions. Actually I sort of miss it. Like I said years ago, maybe they should revisit the 80’s menus.

  48. AA domestic meals in FC are the worst. Even better you can pre order and no what is bad before you even fly. I send a complaint on every flight and nothing ever changes. They do not care. I would love a KFC box over what is being served in FC.

  49. i was under the impression that flying was to get from point A to point B, not for 5-star gourmet dining.

  50. @Lucky do different airlines and classes of service on a particular plane have access to different cooking ovens, appliances and equipment? You had an excellent lobster roll on Etihad. If the catering was 100% the same on an AA 777-300ER would FAs theoretically be able to prepare it exactly the same as Etihad? What is the discriminator for airline food, catering, available equipment or execution?

  51. OMG! Grandma serves junk-food. that’s why I never flying US carrier, it’s disgusting and yucks!

  52. @Mark F. (August 10, 2017 at 10:31 am)
    “[..] Its like shopping at Walmart and then complaining about the service.”
    LOL… so true

    @Him (August 10, 2017 at 2:30 pm)
    “This is British lobster roll”

    hahaha … good one 🙂

  53. I just flew as 777-300 from LAX to Mia. I was served the lobster roll and it looked nothing like your picture. It was all lobster with celery and light mayo. The toast was cold but the lobster was fresh and plentiful. I

  54. Sorry to see this, but not surprising for AA domestics business class. I was on DFW-SEA J class last time, I had some sort of weird salad and tasted really terrible. The meal was among the worse I ever had on a plane, including economy class. I was so happy there were no attempt to serve a meal on my return flight (because it was a red-eye)

    Funny enough, their international J class meal was actually quite good. The steak on my DFW-HKG flight was actually one of the best I ever had. I wonder if it was a different kitchen or it was a simply a budget issue.

  55. Ok comments like “i was under the impression that flying was to get from point A to point B, not for 5-star gourmet dining” would make me say if that’s the case then AA fares should be the same as spirit’s. The dining is part of why AA claims their fare that is thousands more than spirit’s is justified. I understand you don’t care about the meal, but when I pay for premium cabin (which I regularly do) I expect a meal appropriate for what I spent. For the most part UA has actually met my expectations in the last year or so…

  56. I’m extremely entertained. I’ve flown AA FF and J and seen the lobster roll on order but always assumed it would suck.

    For those wondering why so many AA loyalists stay with the airline despite obviously declining quality of food/beverage and service, the answer should be obvious: they spent so many years proclaiming how much better AA was than United and even Delta that they, like Trump voters, cannot admit they shot themselves in the foot now that United and still Delta are far better. Like Trump voters, they can’t admit they now were wrong. Like Trump voters, they stay in their AA bubble and imagine how superior they are compared to the poor fools they imagine fly other airlines…as those “poor fools” enjoy far better service ad food. At least AA seats are superior they tell themselves…even when they aren’t lie flat (like United has had fleetwide for almost 8 years). At least AA seats have aisle access, they tell themselves…even though it’s not that hard to have aisle seats on UA even if you try. If only some of those dolts were to try JetBlue Mint and realize exactly how far AA has fallen….

    I fly whatever business or F route is most direct, whatever the airline. So I know how bad AA catering has become…and how bad AA service levels have become. I only fly AA when it’s the best equipment with the best FF or J seat on a nonstop. Otherwise, I always fly B6 Mint or UA P.S. /Polaris or DeltaOne (most rare).

  57. Bangkok Airways serves a meal on every flight. The meal is nothing to blog about but a meal nonetheless. No pretense and no lobster roll. AA would be better served with a nice sandwich and a nice side of fruit.

  58. Did someone say American Airlines………….? Oh, you mean the hands down worst North American carrier, in equal breath one of the worst in the world. Ya, THAT American Airlines.

  59. That is typical american/us. It is big with puffery and self adulation, then produce, and it’s crap. Then “meal” is nasty. american airlines IS america. A failure. Who travels on us/american swill airlines unless you really really have to?

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