American Airlines Suspends Food & Beverage Service On Most Flights

Filed Under: American

Earlier I wrote about how Southwest Airlines is suspending all inflight service. Now American Airlines has revealed some significant cutbacks to inflight service.

American Airlines inflight service cutbacks

@xJonNYC has the scoop on how American Airlines will be significantly cutting back service on all flights, eliminating service altogether on many flights.

These new policies kick in for flights as of Friday, March 27, 2020, and for now are expected to last through April 30, 2020. That can change, of course, because full service is expected to resume once the COVID-19 situation has stabilized.

What’s changing to American’s inflight service?

Service changes on flights under 2,200 miles

For American Airlines flights under 2,200 miles (typically under 4.5 hours), the following will be changing:

  • Beverages served on request only
  • No alcohol in Main Cabin and Main Cabin Extra
  • No Main Cabin snacks or food for purchase (to eliminate need for credit card exchanges with customers)
  • No snacks or meals in first class

As you can see, expect soft drinks on request only in economy, while in first class expect the usual drink selection on request only, but nothing to eat (including snacks and meals).

Service changes on flights over 2,200 miles

For American Airlines flights over 2,200 miles (typically over 4.5 hours), the following will be changing:

  • No alcohol in Main Cabin and Main Cabin Extra except on IPD
  • No snacks or food for purchase; Main Cabin meals on IPD only
  • Premium cabin meals served all at once, with appetizer, entree, dessert, and roll on a single tray
  • Serve all tray elements covered or wrapped and allow the customer to unwrap

IPD stands for “International Premium Destination,” so that would include American’s very limited number of long haul international routes.

As you can see, on these flights you can expect food in premium cabins, but it will be wrapped and served on one tray. In economy you can expect soft drinks but no food, except on international premium flights, where there will be alcohol and food, though presumably it will be covered as well.

Bottom line

I’m fully supportive of this move on American’s part. As I said in a previous post, flight attendants are at high risk of getting COVID-19, and this is a pretty basic precaution that should be taken, which is mutually beneficial.

No one should be flying for fun right now, and surely those who are traveling for “essential” reasons can appreciate this move.

  1. Will it ever come back? I have a handful of longhaul J/F tickets to get for the next year or so and I’m curious to see what services survive this. What new era this will usher in of us having to accept a new low norm. Just a hunch with the big 3 at least. I have hope in EVA, Korean, ANA etc but still fingers crossed.

  2. I am supposed to fly Delta to Rio in 10 days – they are still operating to GIG but one wonders if they are just waiting until the last minute as most US carriers have reduced their international long-haul extensively. Given the border closures I am surprised no major announcement from Delta yet – particularly as GIG isn’t a major hub unlike others that have been cancelled.

  3. I’m sorry, but this is total bullshit. If I paid for a first class ticket, I expect the normal service. Any FA who is too chicken to provide the normal service can take unpaid leave.

    This is an excuse to cut costs and to avoid a fight with AFA.

  4. If they are serving other beverages on long haul flights, why is it safer to avoid serving alcohol? That seems more like a cost cut than a safety issue for me.

    Also, doesn’t this bring about issues where passengers have a long period for which they are not able to get food on the flights? This seems problematic.

  5. “Beverages served on request only” sounds like it will get more people walking to the galley to ask for a soda. Better to go through once and give everyone a single can.

  6. The goal all along. Will they still be hawking credit card apps or are those too dangerous also?

  7. Meal service is no hell on any U.S. carrier. Now they ‘re going as low as they can go. No more bitching please!!!

  8. “Ryan says:
    March 24, 2020 at 4:42 pm
    I’m sorry, but this is total bullshit. If I paid for a first class ticket, I expect the normal service. Any FA who is too chicken to provide the normal service can take unpaid leave.

    This is an excuse to cut costs and to avoid a fight with AFA.”

    Fully agree with this statement. In such case there should no charge like for premium classes.

  9. I understand that when you’re paying for premium class, you’re primarily paying for the extra space and comfort. However, part of the premium price includes the food & beverage experience (no matter how good or bad). Will prices be discounted for the lack of this part of premium service? We all know the answer to that question.

    This will become the new norm. Don’t expect AA to bring back some of these cut services. Once out of sight, always out of mind. It’s part of a well thought out marketing plan for the future.

  10. Some of you are acting like big brag babies. Flying as Of right now should be used for essential purposes only. Alcohol should be also banned in premium cabins. It isn’t an essential service and during this critical period of outbreak, you should respect everyone’s decision of personal distance. Restaurants are closed and take out is not an option Inflight. They are limiting food service to long flights were food is essential.
    There have already been many cases of pilots and fa infected. One fa died from the covid 19 infection as of Yesterday.
    Many of them could already be infected and be asymtomatic, so this measurement is also to protect us the consumers.

  11. @Ryan…. you are a self centered , selfish individual. The type of passenger that airlines do not want or need at the best of times. Your lack of consideration for the cabin crew in these trying times is deplorable. Do us all a favor, never get on an airplane again, even when this virus tragedy is over with.

  12. Good call AA! Thank you for you site’s factual reporting and not opinionating like other sites and many news outlets.

    I have elderly parents on the East and could need to fly out there on a moments notice. I appreciate AA’s actions and will continue to support and fly them as they have helped me many times in the past.

    Let’s hope by April 30th this is over!

  13. This will become the new norm. After the multi-billion dollar bailout, CEO golden parachutes and stock -buy backs at taxpayer expense, your $5,000 business class ticket will buy you a broken lie-flat seat, no meal or drink service, and the privilege of Paying $50 per bag. Happy travels, partner.

  14. Ryan your attitude absolutely sucks….. stay home, the airline don’t you …. selfish prick.

  15. @ryan moron. They are cutting costs as no one is flying. Mass catering can be source of infection and hence they are temporarily reducing service

    ALL AIRLINES are doing this if they are operating !!!

  16. Seriously, Lucky or what ever your name is. How can you support this? I have to fly for business, regardless of the situation. As an EP on AA I expect service, regardless of the cabin.

  17. Can’t wait to see their reduced prices in business and first for the cuts in service … but I won’t hold my breath

  18. All of you complaining are self-centered babies! Flight attendants don’t have proper PPE, and must still be in close contact with passengers. So yes, this is in order to protect flight attendants. It’s like you don’t give a rat’s ass about them. You only care about your own self entitled ass!

  19. @Simon – then reduce the cost of the ticket. If I paid for my ticket before this change was announced, I have a right to expect the service I paid for.

  20. I’m with Ryan – this is complete garbage. How is this in the interest of FA safety? Do they typically suck on passengers’ leftover ice cubes or nibble on their last pretzels? If these companies are bleeding cash, why would they be even more punitive to passengers? You’re a fool if you think airlines are going to be quick to return any services. This is going to bite them long term – if they don’t completely fail – as not much incentive to pay for a premium cabin. I’m glad that some of you are trying so hard to #flattenthecurve. Perhaps you could all stay home or lock yourselves in a basement or something?

  21. We are under level four national emergency. Only essential flying is supposed to be going on. Many people here should Realize that airlines are actually losing money for flying you right now. They are making you a favor and you sboyld be greatful that they haven’t shut down. Then there woyld be NO FLYING AND NO MEAL.

  22. The service will return when we are no longer in a PANDEMIC! How can a flight attendant practice social distancing when they have to wait on people and be in close contact with them? This is a very deadly virus, and it is very much affecting flight crew.

  23. The immaturity level displayed in some of these comments is shocking.

    And let’s be real, the comments are so immature that there’s no way that they would be at a professional level of business to be flying upfront or that often in the first place. Most companies aren’t allowing business travel right now anyway, but the immature twits probably aren’t in a position to know that.

    Most likely these commentators were the ones recently partying on Spring Break with the masses on the beach.

    The rest of us understand the dire COVID-19 situation, accepting and embracing all necessary measures needed to protect ourselves and each other in these times.

  24. I get the idea of wrapped meals. These are used for certain ethnic and religious based meals.
    I have seen on LX the meals are multi pre wrapped trays, One tray as the first course and another tray with the main course and desert. No, it was not enticing but the idea is there, a multi tray meal in the premium cabin.
    Than again, AA is not LX.

  25. This is being done to reduce person to person contact, to keep customers and crew safe. If a rum and coke is considered essential to you (rather than reducing catching a potentially deadly disease), you can pack a mini rum in your carry on and buy a coke from the machine at the airport. These aren’t times to concentrate or whine about such things, and I’m sure they will return when safe.

  26. Bottled water and packaged snacks, that‘s the maximum that airlines should offer at this moment. Forget about the bullsh*t of “not getting what I paid for”, this is a freaking PANDEMIC. Some people are just so spoiled by the old norm and do not realize we are all in a state of fighting for survival.

  27. What a bunch of self important jackwads. We don’t want your nasty, entitled, germ-filled asses in our seats right now anyway. By all means, fly privately.

  28. Well I normally book 1st, I’ll avoid them and any other doing this. If I board a flight and there is a last minute cut of service, will deny the charge until we come to terms (coach price). They threaten to cancel my ff membership, go ahead, don’t need them.

  29. @Am, Your suggestion is technically against the rules as one is not allowed to consume alcohol that they bring on board the aircraft. If they were to change the rules (the way some cities have changed the rules to allow restaurants to deliver alcohol, I would agree with your suggestion.

    What I do not understand is how serving cans of water produces less germs than cans of beer. Is cost the issue?

    With the closing of Admiral Clubs and reduction in service, I am having trouble thinking of what benefit one gets from flying American over Spirit right now (especially since so few are flying that one can generally get more space on a plane).

  30. I personally don’t drink, but I think for Long Haul flights if there serving regular drinks, then the cutting of alcohol drinks (which are normally free – meaning no credit card handling) is purely a cost saving measure. I think we should let that slide because of the situation airlines are in right now. And lets be honest, it’s not like alcohol companies are doing bad during this time 😉

  31. I have no real issues with this but you should get some sort of voucher or miles from AA if you’re paying for F and get no service.

    Anyway, truly terrible situation. I do think however that service levels will resume after the crisis (whenever that may be).

  32. I can deal with no food/drink on a short haul, but my issue is American’s cancellation policy. They are giving those who booked with AAdvantage miles one year from the original booking date to travel or lose their miles. We book early because our route usually flies fully booked and we only have a small window in which we can travel. Right now if we cancel, we have to travel by late September or lose our miles. The only time we can travel is during the summer months, so we will likely lose nearly 100,000 miles.

  33. I am a flight attendant and some of the comments on here are absolutely appalling and demonstrate a level of selfishness I have never seen.

    My health and well being trump your needs for a grossly overpriced shot of Jack Daniels.

  34. Just checked my Delta flights. Went from ‘drinks’ to ‘bottled water’ in F. They’ll be cancelled anyway. Another one down.

    Annoying, but doesn’t make me irate.

    However, some of you are pretty naive to think that there aren’t marketing teams already everywhere trying to figure out how to make this permanent for all eternity for Delta, AA, UA, whoever else still does it.

  35. It is certainly easy to tell which comments are being made by FAs and which ones are being made by paying customers. If AA offers a partial refund on my premium class ticket for the loss of service, then all is well

    Also, if the revenue exceeds the total of the variable cost associated with the flight, AA is money ahead. The fixed costs are sunk money at this point. I thought I should help the unionized FAs with a little business 101.

  36. Can we please be less PC and admit this change sucks and may be the new normal?
    Frankly speaking AA attendants are simply reluctant to serve. Period. And this virus gives them exactly the best ever chance to forever not offer any more service legitimately.
    I wonder how these PC people would find more excuses to justify the non-service after the pandemic ends.

  37. Mark my words these services will never return just like temporary taxes never go away. The Aircrew already behave like Gestapo. I dont need to see the Eiffel Tower bad enough to br treated like livestock. There’s lots of things to see in the states that I can drive to. The time savings is no longer worth the BS.

  38. @ Ted Wright
    Everybody, You hit the real long term issue. You don’t need to see the Eifel Tower that bad now. My first response is that airline economics is not based on visiting the Tower, it is dependent on business travelers, their revenue is cream because they pay full economy or higher. Then the truth hit me. Business travel will likely NEVER RETURN to recent levels. With very few exceptions, fax, Skype and paid online conference services can replace 80% or more of business travel.
    Nobody needs to travel, essentially.

  39. I have had to fly several times since this mess began and have been refusing service items since January. It is not worth the risk.

    I can sympathize with concerns that this ebb in service may never be corrected, but on the flip side, the airlines are likely going to do something to rebuild demand after this is all over. Better service seems like one option that could be employed.

    For now the less traffic in the aisle the better from my perspective.

  40. Thank you Daniel for mansplaining Business 101 to us, the lowly subservient flying peasants that serve your food in flight (Nevermind the fact that many of us are college educated as well…).

    While under normal circumstances most of us would be happy to accommodate your every request, none of us are willing to interact with you more than is necessary at the present time. It is called self preservation. As I am sure you would want to be done for you, we are taking precautions for our own sake while we still continue to fly.

    It is frustrating judging by these posts that the flying public, in particular the elite members, have little regard for our well being with their expectations shown here. Given that we are over exposed to your germs in a flying petri dish, we are at high risk for passing illness unto you as well, and I surely don’t want to.

    Yes, perhaps the airlines should offer a reduction in fare, and I imagine as cash dwindles, we will see it happen. Just once, I would like to see people think of others than themselves.

    Your service may not be what you’re used to for the time being, but get over it, it will return eventually and you can all act like petulant children once more when your first meal preference isn’t available (despite having the ability to pre-order for years now).

  41. These are different times. Were not talking about what happens next. For those of you with unreasonable comments need to get over yourselves and realize we are in different times and it’s about safety, period!! Grow up and eat before you get on the plane

  42. OK, so the airlines suspend food and beverage service supposedly to curtain contact by/between flight attendants and customers and the touching of food services and beverage containers. What this does in encourage fliers to “bring their own” from outside. Unless the ban stops the bringing of outside food and beverage, the risk of contamination likely goes up because the sourcing and containment of outside containers and food/beverage is not controlled by the airline and may lead to additional contamination. Turning off in-plane services simply changes the source.

  43. Hey @ryan and @chiguy1979 you guys are total
    Pieces of shit. First off you’re not paying for a first class seat. Right now if you
    But a ticket you’re paying for a 10th
    Of the price. And how about you DONT FUCKEN FLY AND STAY THE FUCK HOME IF IT MATTERS THAT MUCH TO YOU. The only people that should be flying are people that NEED to fly. And if you’re so butt hurt over a shitty meal then buy the $20 coach seat and Fly like way a piece of trash like toy should.

  44. I want to thank American Airlines ground crews, counter staff, and flight/stewards for getting me home from Barcelona Spain on March 19th. Cheerful, professional, and helpfully assisting me when I was let down by another airline I had a round-trip ticket with. I can’t tell you what it means to be home in the US near family as I wait out my quarantine period. You made such a high difference for me. Eternally grateful and will certainly be using your airline for my travel needs when this is all over!

  45. The airline just needs to get you from point A to point B.
    Everything else is marketing.
    Good luck with a credit card chargeback for a service shortfall, especially in this environment.
    And if you’re unhappy with the changes, take your custom elsewhere.
    Other carriers will be thrilled with the new business.

  46. I completely agree with Ryan. Delta is offering “bottled water and limited snacks in all cabins”. Whether you’re handing me a bottle of water or a bottle of Jack Daniels, the contact remains the same. Wear gloves (many are doing this anyway). All the snacks are sealed, so I’m not sure what exactly they are preventing. Oh by the way, the virus isn’t going to survive in the oven when they heat a full meal up. This is cost cutting predicated on the mass hysteria of this virus. They still served food and beverages during cold and flu season, and those flights were packed. You’re telling me you can’t put some gloves on and try to treat your most loyal and / or highest revenue passengers to the level of service they’re accustomed to? Give me a break.

  47. THE AIRLINES WILL BE RE INSTATING these cocktails and meals or they will decide
    to eliminate first class on north american flights and offer perhaps premium coach without any services included except extra leg room. I agree with Ryan and Ray. If a customer purchases a premium cabin ticket they are entitled to the various items that come along with that purchase. The airlines DO NOT care about their employees so if you are a flight attendant remarking on this post. Do yourself a favor and keep your comments to yourself as you could be out of a job after Sep 30 due to many carriers downsizing their fleet and route structures if travel does not rebound. The airline does not care about AFA and the flight attendants concerns. Profits come first and their loyal customers who spend high dollar volumes opinions mean more to them. IE Someone who has traveled 1,2,3,4,5 million miles on a said carrier.

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