American And US Airways Align First Class Meals

Filed Under: American, US Airways

When airlines merge they have to “align” policies, and if there’s one thing we’ve learned from the mergers we’ve suffered through the past few years, it’s that this usually translates to taking the worst policies of both airlines as the new “standard.”

As of April, US Airways adopted some American premium cabin service standards, including adding glassware in domestic first class on all flights, adding meals on shorter flights (previously they only offered meals on flights of over 3hr30min, while they lowered that to flights over 2hr45min), etc.

US Airways domestic first class meal

Still, there’s quite a discrepancy between American’s premium cabin meal policy and US Airways’ policy, so we knew there would be more aligning on the way.

As of September 1, 2014, American and US Airways will fully be aligning their domestic premium cabin meal policies, and if you’re used to American’s system, chances are that you won’t be happy with these changes.

Per denCSA on FlyerTalk, here’s the document with the new meal service policy:


To summarize, the policy is basically as follows:

  • Flights of less than 1 hour (175 miles) just get beverages
  • Flights of 1-2 hours (176-999 miles) get beverages with a snack basket
  • Flights of 2-2:45 hours (700-999 miles) get beverages and the Lite Bites snack basket
  • Flights of 2:45-3:30 hours (1,000-1,298 miles) get a meal
  • Flights of 3:30-4:30 hours (1,299 miles-2,199 miles) get a meal with an appetizer
  • Flights of over 4:30 hours (2,200+ miles) get a meal with appetizer and arrival snack basket


There is however a route exception list for this new policy, including the following routes:

  • DFW to DTW and SLC
  • ORD to BOS, DCA, DEN, JFK, LGA, RDU, and DFW
  • MIA to IAH and PAP
  • JFK to FLL, MCO, and TPA
  • FLL to PAP

That’s interesting in that they don’t even fly JFK to Tampa or Fort Lauderdale anymore. And Fort Lauderdale to Port au Prince — am I the only one that finds that incredibly random? Until recently I didn’t even realize they operated that route!

Other than that, the exception list is more or less as you’d expect, mostly to hubs of other carriers so that they can stay somewhat competitive.

What do you think of the changes to American’s meal policy?

  1. Still better than UA of course.

    Ben, do you know what is the cut off time for UA for dinner?? One flight I flew lately was DEN-YVR on 7.30pm and no meal in F (3.30 hrs flight).

    Oh there is also no supper on 9.10pm departure (winter schedule) HNL-EWR (10+ hrs flight) on UA. I know it is still considered domestic but it is 10+ hrs. Only cheap breakfast was served.

  2. Well….crap. They are really taking away all incentive for DCA-based routes. Makes it easier to decide on JetBlue for those Florida routes from DCA.

  3. Never actually eaten that before although I have stepped in it a couple of times…………..God Bless America!

  4. Being a native of Fort Lauderdale, I can tell you the Haitian population is huge, so it’s not surprising that they operate flights from FLL-PAP. Not to sound insincere, but it seems mean not to serve folks one last meal before landing in PAP. It may be the best meal you’ll get in a while!

  5. Did they say whether this affects AA Flagship routes? Please tell me I still get my sundae.

  6. I hope this does not affect AA’s Premium Transcon service between JFK and LAX. The 8pm departure from JFK is convenient and I would be quite unhappy if it became a cold snack flight.

  7. Given all the exceptions for ORD (mostly the old United BusinessOne markets from 20 years ago where AA has always competed for business travelers), the change in policy doesn’t affect Midwestern fliers as much as those near other AA hubs. ORD-DEN is a noticeable cut, as are DFW-MSP and DFW-MKE.

  8. I’ve flow RT MIA to PAP on AA in economy many times and they always give economy passengers a little snack box of raisins, a pack of two crackers, spreadable cheese and maybe something else. Wasn’t surprising to me to see a full meal exception for first class on the route.

  9. Any word on the hot nuts? I seem to remember seeing a similar chart that specifically listed hot nuts on some of the shorter flights

  10. Cue the screaming from all the AA loyalists who can’t go without a snack wrap or crappy salad on a 2 hour flight. My favorite argument is “the meal is one of the main reasons I pay for F.” Would you really pay a premium in the hundreds of dollars (if not more) for a $5 meal? Give me a break. This is by far the most overblown issue of this merger.

    Sort of related, I had the “PM lite bite” basket a couple days ago on a LAS-CLT redeye, and thought the chicken curry sandwich was quite tasty (again, for a sandwich that probably cost the airline a dollar).

  11. Is that a paper napkin in the US Airways meal photo? If so I am scared for what other “enhancements” Mr. Parker will be instituting for AA’s FC catering.

  12. @ Josh — Well since those flights are long, it wouldn’t really have any impact. This doesn’t say anything about the quality of the food, but rather just what type of food is served, so I don’t really see a change here.

  13. Flew DCA to MIA on Monday on AA in F and got drinks, hot nuts and cookie only. At least I was in a new plane, a 737 that was only 10 days old with great IFE!

  14. Flew US PHL-AUS the other day – dinner and Tiramisu, no sundae, no hot nuts – probably what to expect from the ‘new’ American

  15. Surprised that DFW-MEX isn’t on the list of exceptions, especially since MEX is an exception for lounge access.

  16. not to hijack thread too much, but any idea when AA opens up remaining first class awards? Showing 6 open seats for an early Sept HKG-DFW 77/300 flight and i need 2. is this an impossible task?

  17. Last night I flew BOS-ORD on United and was informed that the warm food “wasn’t catered in BOS”…..what the?
    Guess I should start to fly AA on that route!

  18. I find 8 pm cutover to be too early and overall the policy blows compared to European carriers. But, I guess, we should stop thinking business/first = meal and bring food while flying.

  19. @Ivan Y – Completely agree. Why do flights at 4:01pm serve dinner while those at 8:01pm don’t? A departure at 8:15pm means you left work at 6:00pm. Who eats dinner before then? And if it’s a flight of a couple of hours, when are you gonna eat afterwards? At midnight?

    This schedule ignores the total travel experience. It’s time-shifted two hours from the lived experience of the passenger. “Lunch” starts at 9:01am. Who wants lunch when they left home at 6:30am to catch a flight? When did they have breakfast? The fact that domestic carriers still claim to have “First” class is absurd. It’s premium coach with a few occasional perks.

  20. How can I pay for ICE (train in Europe) with points? Which points? Strategy? Thank you very much!!!

  21. Just noticed it looks like a paper napkin on the tray. I sure hope the cloth napkins don’t go away!

    We just got the button-holes back!

  22. I noticed AA updated their website removing meals on their flights that do not meet the new requirements. They did removed meals DCA-ORD and JFK-MCO which I thought were going to be exceptions.

  23. As a Platinum member who travels the DCA to MIA route at least every month I find it very unfortunate that AA has decided to remove meals on this route. I typically buy first class tickets for 2 and will spend easily $1,200 + a trip. As ticket prices continue to go up I am starting to think it might be better just to buy coach tickets since there will be no real perks to flying first. My inclination early on would be that AA would adopt the USAIR budget / one class philosophy and it looks like I was right.

  24. Truly disappointing. I just started traveling PHX-DFW-BJX earlier this year every time in First and the service and food was superb, like old times from the 80’s. Oh well, at least US Air is using glass if First for the cocktail service, although 2 weeks ago I flew round trip between PHX-MEX and the food even though it was edible (nothing to write home about) it was like they took whatever was in the kitchen and threw it on the trays. No rhyme or reason to the food combinations. One trip I asked for the beef, and on the same tray with it was also a side of chicken slices with Mac and Cheese! When will they ever learn? If they are going to charge premium prices, they should offer premium meals. Oh well, back to coach when flying AA!

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