American Airlines Still Serving Disgusting “Lobster Sandwich”

Filed Under: American, Travel

Some of you may remember the story I wrote last year about the “lobster roll” I was served on an American Airlines flight between Los Angeles and New York. Well, I have an update on this, because I ordered the same dish on a flight a couple of days ago.

American’s infamous “lobster roll” 

Last August I flew from Los Angeles to New York in American’s premium transcon A321 business class, and I decided to pre-order a lobster roll, mainly because I was intrigued by how well an airline like American could execute that. Here’s what I was served:


  • This doesn’t look like any lobster roll I’ve ever had
  • Whatever it is that they’re trying to serve, it looks awful

I specifically clarified with the flight attendant that this was the lobster roll, and she confirmed it was. Later on during the meal I asked her again if this was in fact the normal lobster roll, and she responded with “you got lucky, we ran out of the business class ones, so that’s the first class lobster roll.”

After the fact American reached out and clarified that I had been served the “lobster grilled cheese with tomato soup.” Even so, yuck, yuck, yuck.

The story had appeared in the NY Post, and American issued the following statement:

“We apologize to Mr. Schlappig for his experience. During his flight, he was served the lobster grilled cheese with tomato soup instead of the lobster roll. The meal he was served is not up to our standards and we have shared his feedback with our teams for review.”

American’s lobster sandwich is still on the menu

For my recent flight from New York to Los Angeles I saw online that the “grilled lobster and cheese sandwich” was still on the menu. I know, it’s pure insanity to order the same thing and expect different results. But American did issue a statement saying that the meal I was served was “not up to [their] standards,” so I wanted to see how it had changed. Surely a year is plenty of time for them to update their standards, right?

Here’s the menu for the flight, for the record (I find it a bit odd that they serve scones and a fruit smoothie before landing on a flight that lands at 12:50AM — I guess they have the same menu on this flight as on redeyes).

And here’s the meal:

Okay, on the plus side, at least the tomato soup was served in a bowl this time, rather than in an aluminum ramekin. So American gets points for that.

But the sandwich itself? Well, it had even less between the two slices of bread than last time, which is probably a blessing, since you know it’s not going to taste good. The lobster (well, the very little lobster on there) tasted like some sort of canned cat food, while the cheese didn’t exactly taste high quality either.

So yeah, I’m going to continue to give this meal a pass in the future. On the plus side, American’s Flagship Bridge Dining at JFK is excellent, so I’ll simply eat before the flight and sleep the whole way.

The “wagyu meatloaf” sounds just as unappealing as the lobster sandwich to me, so I guess I’d choose the “cauliflower steak” in the future, if I were to eat.

Bottom line

I really wish airlines would serve more realistic meals. American obviously has very low catering budgets, so why put wagyu and lobster on the menu, both of which are among the most expensive things out there, if done correctly.

After having had basically the same meal again, I suspect the reason the meal wasn’t previously up to American’s standards was because of the aluminum ramekin, and I guess at least they fixed that. 😉

  1. You should reach out to Sam Choy and ask him why he allows his name to be used to promote low-quality food.

  2. The Waygu Meatloaf is actually very good. I liked that it arrived hot and came with salt and pepper too if you felt the need to sprinkle some on. They also served if on a nice plate, I felt so fancy!

  3. What blows me is that, from time to time and without any apparent reason, AA will serve ordinary F passengers on an ordinary route (DFW-LGA, MIA-JFK etc..), not a supposedly “prestige” one like Tanscon, a perfectly good steak and potatoes, well executed and actually tasting like meat, so the rationale on determining meals escapes me.

    Based on your account, I have 2 questions, though:

    – When is the last time you ate canned cat food ?
    – You aptly said about Alitalia that expecting different results for the same action was a definition of nsanity. Since it was so bad the first time, are you insane to have ordered it again or just a masochist ?

  4. Lucky, i’ve had a major laugh just reading this. Thanks for making my day. Vielen Dank.

    What i find absurd is that AA couldn’t be bothered to get you a proper lobster sandwich as you actually posted on twitter that you had pre-ordered the same meal. AA should have gone out of its way and even got you a lobster sandwich from somewhere in NY. Appearances do matter.

    Have yourself a lovely Sunday.

  5. @ Ben — Bring your own fresh fruit and eat that instead. Anything from a hotel, restaurant, or airplane is bound to be horrible for you.

  6. Flagship Business my ass. What an uninspiring menu all around.

    The weird thing is, I just had a perfectly nice steak dish in regular domestic F flying PIT-PHX on AA. They clearly “can” get it right…

  7. Like a bunch of other people have said, I had a perfectly good chicken dish on an LAX-DFW flight and good food on J LHR-LAX, but somehow my flight in First from DFW-LHR had some of the worst food I’ve ever had! American is clearly capable of making good food, but somehow they always seem to end up on short domestic first class flights.

  8. Sandwich looks good. I never have the opportunity to eat lobster so it would be a real treat for me. What am I missing?

  9. Lucky — I believe I’ve had one before, but you should post a picture of a (better) lobster roll that you’ve been served before for comparison purposes.

  10. I recently flew Turkish Airlines in economy from the US to Minsk via Istanbul, and my meals were miles better than what you’re describing on AA. Really puts the U.S. airlines into perspective. TK served two delicious, full meals in economy, with fresh fruit and salads, and even gave me a full meal on my TWO HOUR flight from IST to MSQ in economy. Meanwhile, American’s first class lobster roll seems to lack actual lobster. And yet instead of fixing their problems, they keep complaining about subsidies.

  11. Funny, I just did the same thing this morning… ordering the same meal that wasn’t good the last time I had it. Same “premium” route as well: JFK-LAX. The chicken and waffles served on the morning flights are a joke – kiddie-style chicken fingers on top of soggy waffles. But it had been a while since I ordered it and thought I’d give it another try since I couldn’t eat the other options. Honestly don’t understand how anyone finds these options acceptable, it’s not even a matter of taste – both look exactly how they taste: cheap.

  12. Normally I enjoy your reviews – but I find your posts on this ridiculous. The first time was clearly a mistake, since you ordered a lobster roll and you were served a grilled cheese with lobster sandwich, which are two completely different things.

    Grilled cheese sandwiches are not supposed to be eaten open faced, and grilled cheese does not generally look appetizing when eaten open faced. What you were served both times is about what I would expect for a grilled cheese sandwich with lobster (I can’t speak to quality, but based on the visual look, especially considering it was presumably re-heated on the airplane).

    Why you ordered a grilled cheese and lobster sandwich and expected a lobster roll is beyond me. They are two COMPLETELY different sandwich types. The mistake was the flight attendant calling the sandwich a lobster roll the first time, which it clearly wasn’t.

  13. @ Matthew

    “grilled cheese does not generally look appetizing when eaten open faced”

    Nonsense. Welsh rarebit is a delicacy and looks delicious (if cooked properly).

  14. Flew economy on AA to LHR and then back from BUD a few weeks ago. I couldn’t believe the food. It was tasty and plentiful. It was a different chicken in sauce dish each way and both were very good. Compared to BA, AA is way ahead. Who would have ever though that?

  15. Lucky I think you hit the nail on the head – they need to be less ambitious (or really less pretentious). Airplane catering is rarely great and AA has to have about the lowest budget of any airline out there for catering, so why on Earth are they trying to introduce luxury “sounding” ingredients? Just get a piece of chicken or a steak or a vegetable curry right, rather than throwing on references to lobster and Wagyu beef…

    It’s beyond me what demographic they are aiming those meals at because people who can afford to fly business and first on the transcon are clearly never going to be impressed with the inevitable miserable result of listing lobster on airline menu. Something like a lobster grilled cheese would surely work better as “aspiraional” buy-on-board food for coach, or at least make more sense.

  16. @The nice Paul – Welsh rarebit is different than a grilled cheese sandwich (with or without lobster). When you make a cheese sauce it is going to inherently look different than when you melt cheese between slices of bread and then pull it apart after it’s had a chance to cool down a bit.

    Even Welsh rarebit probably wouldn’t look as appetizing if you put it between two slices of bread, let it sit for a bit, and then pulled it apart again…

    Mind you, I have had better lobster grilled cheese sandwiches, but I don’t pull them apart after ordering them (nor do I expect a lobster roll).

  17. WTF is this? Yes you should post a photo of this sad-wich and tag Sam Choy. Tell him if this is what you sign off on there’s no way anyone would want to eat at your restaurant.

  18. The pretentious crowd will always order lobster ( SQ Thermidor a case in point), just like they gush over caviar and champagne, generally cluelessly . Maybe this is American’s budget version.

  19. Maybe you should just shove it down parker’s throat.
    And see if he continues to bring it on board the aircraft.

  20. I would be pissed if I paid for first or used miles and got that. Its bad enough when our snack from lhr to ord was some garbage deep dish pizza that no one ate. (packaged cheese and crackers would be better than that swill) AA needs to either step up their game, or actually spend catering money wisely.

  21. @Brian “Compared to BA, AA is way ahead.”

    Compared to the Supermax prison in Florence Colorado, Leavenworth isn’t half bad.

  22. @Dan I’ll eat your deep dish pizza next time.

    I care about food and wine, happy when I get a decent champagne. I think our expectations for airline food are too high, at least in the USA. Better to eat in the terminal before a flight. It’s that bad.

  23. Is AA still describing a piece of lemon as “citrus garnish” on their F menus? I almost pissed my pants laughing at that the last time I saw it.

  24. A year or two ago, in SQ Suites, I used the Book the Cook service to pre-order the lobster thermidor. It was…mediocre at best. I think lobster just doesn’t taste very good in the sky.

  25. “The lobster (well, the very little lobster on there) tasted like some sort of canned cat food.”

    How do you know what canned cat food tastes like?

  26. That looks more like supermarket lobster. If you think that looks fine or taste good I’m guessing you think California rolls are authentic sushi. Some of you guys think it’s pretentious because it’s lobster. But if this was beer you would be screaming bloody murder. For the record any good chef would know that real seafood and cheese rarely goes well together in terms of taste and digestion. Add to the fact you’re on a plane that is just a immodium experience waiting to happen.

  27. Flying a often as you do, I’m really surprised you’re not sick and tired of the food. But then again, you fly a mix of airlines.

    Having said that, I don’t care which airline you fly. If you fly it often enough, you’re going to get sick of the food regardless of the airline.

    I’m getting to a point where I am agreeing with the late Anthony Bourdain, refusing to eat airplane food. Arrive hungry and eat what you want.

  28. @Joe, lobster is the snail of the ocean. Used to be no one wanted to eat it. Now that make it pretentious and boom, it’s in demand. SMH.

  29. Regarding the menu items with lobster, and wagu, if it sounds too good to be true you can bet it is! AA is not alone in having flowery descriptions of their dishes which never live up to the hype. And yes, the lobster does look like low-grade cat food.

  30. It isn’t just the lobster roll that’s disgusting it’s American period
    It’s their uncomfortable cramped domestic seating
    Their awful catering ,shrunken bathrooms ,skimpy non existent saver award inventory
    Over pricing ,criminal customer relations etc
    Yet until folks stop flying them it is what it is
    Vote with your wallet I do
    And the most disgusting of all it’s CEO who ruined a perfectly good airline and once great program
    One that I would have continued to support happily
    I feel sorry for so many of its employees who are good at their jobs and suffer the fate of a bad decision maker

  31. There was a time when F lunch was soup, salad and a half sandwich. It has always been my experience in domestic US when simple things are done well, customers are happy. Conversely overreach usually breeds discontent.

  32. AA has to be one of the most inconsistentl airlines I’ve ever flown. I was flying MIA to Lima last week in business and the flagship check in area people didn’t know if My biz class ticket gave me access to the flagship lounge. The phone and airport agents don’t know their own ticket policies.

  33. I have rarely travelled on any US airlines over the last 40 years living in Hong Kong and Cyprus .
    I had a poor experience on United in 1992 from HK to Singapore , never again .
    There are so many other options . But I recognise that if you are an American and live in USA , it is not always possible to make alternative arrangements .

  34. I visit Japan regularly, ‘wagyu’ & ‘meatloaf’ should not be in the same sentence let alone in the same menu item. Also, given its cost, I wonder how much wagyu is in the meatloaf…

  35. Ben. Great article, I really enjoy when you do these short funny ( but accurate ) write ups. Maybe take a cat on your next trip for the “emotional support “ and give them a real treat. Lol.

  36. It probably isn’t even lobster. Many markets and restaurants sub in Pollack or similar and make it look and taste like lobster. Its a prudent business move, very cost-cutterish, if so.

  37. We’ve had the Lobster Thermidor on SQ First twice, and both times it was not just good, but really wonderful. And the Roast Pheasant Breast we had on SQ, (sadly have only seen it that one time), was one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. Not just on a plane, but in a restaurant.

    As for “wagyu”, I don’t know about Japan, but in the US there is no legal definition for Wagyu. You can take the lowest grade chuck roast, raised on grass in Mexico, and sell it here as “wagyu”, with no legal jeopardy at all. The same way that Korbel gets away with calling it’s swill “California Champagne”.

  38. @Experienced traveller.

    Thanks for enlightening everyone regarding your 1992 meal with United!

  39. I dont find the sandwich to be particularly bad, and the wagyu meatloaf is among my fav on board on US transcon. The worst trascon dining experience I had were (in particular, twice) on Delta One — dry and tasteless fish, messy and overcooked pasta.

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