American Airlines Resuming Economy Inflight Service

Filed Under: American

American Airlines has today announced plans to resume more inflight service on domestic flights. Delta recently made a similar announcement, and it looks like American is largely following, so let’s go over what’s changing.

First I should mention that American’s face covering policy isn’t changing, and customers will be allowed to just briefly remove their face covering to eat or drink, and they’ll be reminded of this policy onboard.

First class beverage service changes

As of May 1, 2021, American Airlines will reintroduce full beverage service in first class on domestic flights. This includes alcohol, canned drinks, juice, and water.

In reality this is the status quo, practically speaking, so it’s not much of an announcement. American’s domestic first class beverage service is technically currently “on request,” though you can order whatever you want whenever you want, and the full drink selection is available (though served in plastic cups).

There were always some flight attendants who wouldn’t offer anything unless specifically asked, though that was the exception rather than the norm. Personally I don’t really view this as much of a change.

The much bigger adjustment was that American recently improved catering in domestic first class on flights of over 2,200 miles.

American will continue to offer beverage service in first class

Economy beverage service returns June 1

As of June 1, 2021, American Airlines will reintroduce a simplified beverage service in economy class on domestic flights. This is the much bigger announcement, as American currently doesn’t offer any beverage service in economy class on flights of under 2,200 miles, with the exception of the bottle of water you’re sometimes given upon boarding.

As of June 1, you can expect complimentary beverages to include canned drinks, juice, and water, and there will always be complimentary snacks, like pretzels or Biscoffs.

American is resuming beverage service in economy

Buy-on-board service returning later this summer

As of later this summer, the full main cabin beverage service will return. This includes items available for purchase (through the buy-on-board menu), like alcoholic drinks, as well as American’s food options for purchase.

Expect buy-on-board service to resume later this summer

What’s noticeably absent from this announcement

It’s interesting that there’s no mention in American’s updates about more of a food service resuming in first class. While I wasn’t necessarily expecting an exact date for this, there’s not even a mention of this being on the horizon.

That’s no coincidence, if you ask me — American’s leadership has made it clear that service in first class will likely never be the same. As it was described, the pandemic has given American the chance to “re-think” meal service in first class, and to “bring back something that still has a premium feel but is different and more modern.”

So yeah, I wouldn’t expect a whole lot on that front.

Bottom line

American Airlines has revealed plans to resume more inflight service. The most significant updates are that an economy beverage service will resume as of June 1, 2021, and then later this summer a full buy-on-board service will resume in economy, including alcohol and food.

What do you make of American Airlines’ updates to service in economy?

  1. What’s the point of paying for first or business class service if everything is significantly cut or reduced? What’s the reason one would pay more for essentially less service?

    Maybe one needs to “re think” flying on American

  2. @Michael The point is some people buy first for the larger seat and because $100 is nothing to them, they arent greedy points and miles people like us that expect a whole bottle of top self liquor and world class service when flying first from DFW to LAX.

    Im just glad they are bringing back the Biscoff!

  3. How about complementary alcohol in Main Cabin Extra (MCE)? Is that June 1 or later in summer or never?

  4. @Trey this is strictly speculation but I’d expect to see a single complimentary adult beverage in MCE when buy on board resumes.

  5. Two years ago Amtrak replaced its traditional dining menu and service with what Amtrak called “Flexible and contemporary” dining options. In reality that meant meals cooked and prepared on board were replaced by prepackaged “food” (lucky if they got heated aboard before being served). The new service was uniformly panned.
    It seems like AA hired the same marketing geniuses to promote their downgraded F meal service.

  6. Steve, above, is happy the Biscoff is back. I took matters into my own hands. I discovered that Walmart has Biscoffs so I bought a large package of 6 smaller packages. Each has about 12 Biscoffs that are about double the size.

  7. I have to fly to LA sometime in the summer. Almost certainly I will go American (since they dominate the CLT gates) and most likely non-stop. I will decide whether to fly First as it gets closer to the time of booking. Flying First and direct are the most important criteria the food being more of a perk than a deal breaker. I will usually eat breakfast before I enplane. Flight is about 5 1/2 hours. I may bring a protein bar to snack in flight. If they offer me a meal, great, if not I will live with it.

    Ben reviewed American A321 First Class product back in 2016 from LAX to NYC and raved about it. I assume the hard product would be the same or similar reverse herringbone.

    @Neil Lang – I just took Amtrak in March from Tampa to Charlotte in a sleeper and experienced the new “Choice Dining.” I am a fan of Amtrak. I use it a lot along the east coast because I can enjoy the pace and get work done since most of the routes have WiFi (or I tether). Due to Covid they will serve you in your room. My food was OKAY about on par with what you get on a plane which is a come down from previous experiences. The old style dining rooms were a treat. The food was pretty good considering and it was always enjoyable to socialize with others while you ate. Back then you could ride coach and buy your meals while sleepers are complimentary. The current administration in Washington DC is friendly to Amtrak and their budget is expected to increase so I am hoping to see expanded routes and expanded service here going forward.

  8. I just noticed that Alaska Airlines has a turkey sandwich available now for preorder on flights to and from Hawaii.

    This should be pretty recent because I booked flights to the west coast from Hawaii earlier this month (flying out end of May) and only the cheese and fruit platter was available then.

  9. Im not sure about the fuss for glassware? Does it really make a difference?

    (international flights admittedly different)

    Anyways, it’s a great feeling to get mostly back to normal. Hallelujah…not because of the inflight service, just because of the idea that we’re moving beyond the pandemic black hole of existence.

    PS – recently sat next to an “easy-on-the-eye” AA Captain in F, great guy. Until full F service returns, he suggested to get the sandwich offering because of the tasty chocolate cookie they hide beneath the sandwich, and the cookie was indeed very tasty.

  10. @Brain
    what’s your fetish with glassware ? Quite pointless request given the current situation.

    Then don’t fly first class

  11. @D3kingg please explain how the “current situation” prohibits use of glassware? If i’m drinking i prefer to drink out of a glass. Plastic cups are tacky and make things taste terrible. There’s no reason they can’t use glasses. For all of you who say we must “follow the science”, despite having ZERO credibility, the CDC has said covid doesn’t spread through contact. It’s through the air. So stop acting like all of the ridiculous cutbacks that were implemented over a year ago should stay in place forever, because of the “current situation”. Good grief.

  12. Is this supposed to be something new and exciting on AA’s part…??? United has had beverage service/services [2x on flights over 3hrs] for months now. It has been so long that I really do not remember when it changed…

    I have not had too much AA flying this past year other then 1 roundtrip to Las Vegas, connection in both directions last October in paid First Class…We had to initiate getting a beverage on every leg…Not one time did the crew offer, even on the two longer legs from CLT-LAS and LAS-CLT…

    I know Ben is fond of pointing out how the UA crews can be extremely hit or miss, which I am not here to argue, just to point out that hit or miss crews is hardly specific to UA when it comes to the Big 3…As far as the service/onboard offerings go, UA has pummeled DL and AA as far as I am concerned…Well, minus those Domestic First Class sandwiches ; )

  13. @Brian

    Glassware will return eventually but it’s not a priority. Yes a glass would be nice . It’s an interesting point you’re bringing up. Using glassware poses no risk. They don’t serve plastic only at restaurants so why only plastic in first class ? There is no reason you’re right. From the airline perspective It must involve cost.
    I’m much more concerned about international travel resuming. I’ll drink out of styrofoam if I have to.

  14. Flew to Perth from Melbourne Australia, on QF in J last Thursday and back yesterday, 737 over A330 back. Hot meals and ice creams and great choice of premium wine served in glassware.
    Business lounges open and pumping with people seemed like the old days. Masks had to be worn but not strict while eating or drinking. Thoroughly enjoyed both flights very friendly crews nice to be back in the air.

  15. I’m glad I was able to enjoy the hot fudge sundaes on occasions of flying first class on long enough flights.

  16. @brian yes, airlines are cutting back in a lot of thing, they are in survival mode. Cutting the glassware is a cut saving strategy, but I don’t think you should be mad at the airline. You should be mad at the situation.
    There has been a lot of debt accumulated during the worst months of the pandemy, and it is going to take a lot more than a vaccine to bring things to Normal.

    You may see some domestic flights full, but they are full of complimentary upgrades to frequent flyers that are not even meeting the anual regular standard to hold EP. Everything is being waived for the sake of “hoping things will get back to normal one day, and we want to keep you”
    But first class is not generating big bucks like you may think.
    Sure, there are people who pay for it, but most don’t. And international flying is far from returning to normal, so airlines are offsetting the cost of mataining those money losing routes with the domestic revenue.
    Sorry to break it down without sugar.

  17. @Craig FC on the 3 class A321 used on Jfk-Lax/Sfo transcons are not the same as 2 class A321 transcons on other markets. Transcons outside of Jfk and the 777s out of Mia are the normal domestic A321 recliner seats and are not flatbeds.

  18. So i will admit, I have on domestic flights within the past year requested a Diet Coke (in a can) on most of the flights I have been on. I think on maybe the shortest flights I have taken didn’t even bother since the flight time was less than an hour.

  19. @Derek

    Yes i took the Biscoff matter in my own hands too, i buy them at Costco huge 128-cookie packs and they are on super-sale right now haha.

  20. Th face covering policy isn’t American’s policy – it’s the government’s (FAA) policy. All airlines must adhere to this policy.

  21. @Brian seems like the drama sort none of us would want to sit next to. Comments of his lack of calibre and reason always me think that it’s a kid typing from their bedroom.

    And since when did the plastic change the taste? Evidence? You have sat poolside at a hotel or resort where they can’t use glass, but use plastic that looks like glass? If your drink of choice is wine, then that would be the dead giveaway that you really don’t know what you’re talking about, but I’m not going to give you the benefit of knowing why.

  22. No real upgrade in service in First (ie, hot meals) is definitely a deal breaker for me and if it goes on too much longer I will be choosing another airline. I fly First for two reasons, 1) on an overnight transcon or transatlantic flight so I can actually get some sleep, 2) because I’m on a tight schedule and want a decent meal while I’m in the air. I’m not going to pay $ or miles or use upgrade stickers just for a slightly more comfortable seat. I’m reasonably happy in MCE for most daytime flights.

    If AA doesn’t offer the service I’m willing to pay for, someone else will happily take my money and loyalty.

  23. @Jeremy S

    That is purely subjective. American has a solid hard product. I love first class whether a 38 min or 6 hr flight. That’s just me. Food is an afterthought. Flying in First to me is more exclusive than luxurious.
    If I’m stuck in economy on a long flight I would for sure be willing to purchase a proper wrap or salad for $15.

  24. Just flew my #36 AA leg yesterday from Miami to Chicago since January 1. Covid restrictions have not only added face masks requirements, but they have reduced business service to ZERO. The service yesterday was better than the “abysmal” nothing I’ve experienced the past 3-4 months.

    The biggest things I’ve noticed is not just the reduction in food service, but no legitimate greeting, “welcome”, drink offer of any kind. On the smaller 737 and AB 319’s and even 321’s for 2-3 hour flights the flight crews simply congregate, eat their own food, read their books, iPhones, mumble and grumble about passengers not following protocol on facemasks and bark out orders to passengers. NO , NONE, NEVER, greetings, welcome, thanks for flying, and NO “what can I get you today “, Mr. “……..” I can honestly say that for $800 business seats, I recall having more fun in a 1st grade recess line with “Mrs. Johnson” smacking her ruler and looking for her next discipline victim . NO FUN . NOPE, It is just not fun to fly anymore. They either fix the service or no reason for Advantage Status or flying business or American Airlines. No luxury and no fun means you might just be better off keeping your money in your pocket. I’m almost a 2 million mile flyer and after a decade of flying 50 short and long haul round trips per year, I may just reduce that to 5-6 necessary trips and choose every flight by price on Expedia.

    Erik M

  25. I just flew from Quito Ecuador to San Francisco through Miami in Business class from Quito to Miami, and First Class from Miami to San Francisco. Flight time was about 13hrs including the MIA layover. Food was basically nonexistent. The lie flat seats on our 787-8 to MIA were very comfortable, but no blanket or pillows available. A cheese and cracker box or the most disgusting sandwich I have ever had were offered. Since we would have a short layover in Miami, with no time to visit the Admirals Club, I saved the sandwich for dinner on the SFO bound flight.

    We were in First Class on a 321A for the next 6 1/2 hours and about an hour into the flight they offered us something to drink. They brought round a basket and offered us snack chips once. I took one of their tiny bags of potato chips to go with my saved sandwich. They were both pretty disgusting. I ended up eating some biscochos I was bring home for a friend, since I hadn’t had breakfast or lunch.

    Kind of took away the thrill of my first ever business and first class flights. The “First Class” seats on the Miami to San Francisco flight reclined into my face and hit my knees. I had to slouch in my seat for 6.5 hrs so I could stretch my legs out under the seat in front of me.

    I won’t be flying American Airlines anytime soon.

  26. Any idea if there is any kind of food or drink service to Hawaii from DFW? It’s direct on AA- over 8 hours but still technically domestic. I cant imagine that they will really not provide anything! 🙁

  27. Hello,

    AA website says: for Domestic flights between 900 and 2,199 miles:

    In First: Complimentary fresh snacks on flights departing between 5 a.m. and 9 p.m.

    Any information / photos of what these “fresh snacks” are ?


  28. Was on ORD-HLN in 1ST a week ago and was served two hot meals, I was like this must totally be off as I have not had a hot meal on AA since Feb 2020.

    Salmon Hash Dinner
    Eggs and Turkey Sausage Breakfast
    Plus the old school snacks we used to get on American Egale.

    Short lived but reminded me of the god old days. 🙂

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