American Removes First Class Espresso Machines From Planes

Filed Under: American

American Airlines has just revealed its latest premium cabin cost cutting measure…

American’s first class espresso machines

American Airlines has historically served espresso-based drinks in three cabin first class, on Boeing 777-300ERs and Airbus A321Ts. As someone who is a bit obsessed with coffee, it’s something I always appreciated:

  • Obviously they weren’t the best espresso or cappuccino beverages, but they were significantly better than airplane coffee
  • Being able to order these drinks was a small point of differentiation compared to business class, especially given the lack of soft product differences otherwise
  • The crews always seemed to enjoy these drinks as well, which is to say that I feel like 80% of the espresso pods were used for crew members, and then there were some leftovers that passengers had the privilege of enjoying 😉

American Airlines first class cappuccino

The reason American is eliminating espresso machines

View from the Wing notes that American Airlines has removed espresso machines from aircraft. The reason? According to an American spokesperson, “to help conserve fuel and prevent confusion about what services are currently offered.”

Um, wow:

  • In fairness to American’s management, they do seem hyper-focused on removing anything from planes that weighs anything, including TVs and comfortable seats, so that’s consistent
  • They’re removing espresso machines to “prevent confusion about what services are currently offered”

I’m only partly kidding when I ask if American will remove ovens from most planes next — those weigh a lot, and having ovens could create “confusion about what services are currently offered.” Furthermore, American seems to be headed a different direction with food anyway, as the airline wants to “reset” its first class meal service, offering something that “has a premium feel but is different and more modern.”

American Airlines 777-300ER first class

Bottom line

While American cutting espresso machines is perhaps a minor change in and of itself, it’s symbolic of what we’re seeing. Make no mistake about it, we’re seeing a great reset in both the airline and hotel industry.

The companies that have been wanting to cut costs will continue to do so in the name of coronavirus. There was a brief period going back several years where American wanted to become a premium carrier, but those days are long gone.

Fortunately I don’t think this level of cost cutting will be consistent long-term. The companies that care about customer experience, like Four Seasons, Qatar Airways, etc., won’t be taking that approach.

Will anyone miss American’s first class espresso machines?

Comments
  1. “The crews always seemed to enjoy these drinks as well, which is to say that I feel like 80% of the espresso pods were used for crew members, and then there were some leftovers that passengers had the privilege of enjoying”

    Precisely this. And it’s hard to imagine this happening on a national airline such as e.g. Swiss but really easy to imagine this happening on American

  2. It is too confusing to passengers to have three classes of services, all with different products. Better just merge everything into economy.

  3. People do notice when a service is offered then withdrawn and will be more critical of that than they would have been if it were not offered in the first place. I refuse to make a generalised comment about the quality of coffee available in the US, but perhaps they think that most of their pax won’t notice or care. I was served an espresso coffee on QF12 JFK-LAX in premium economy, but confess I didn’t ask if it was from a pod machine or a proper one.

  4. Airline coffee is and always has been bad
    I travel with a travel mug. It is a French press. I have my coffee and need only water. Regardless of cabin mine is better.
    Also while lining for Immigration and Customs I have coffee in hand

  5. Not on the 787, good. Dodged a bullet. 🙂
    Flying back to USA in a few weeks transpacific in 3A. Plan on ordering at least two coffees.

  6. I love any airline that offers Nespresso espresso.
    American should start offering iced coffee. It is such an USA thing.

  7. I’m surprised they didn’t try to virtue spin this as “we are taking them out to reduce our carbon footprint”.

  8. Narrowbody ovens will be gone within a year, I guarantee it. All part of bringing passengers fresher, more modern choices

  9. Donna and other AA Karens rejoice over the removal of anything that would give passengers a pleasant travel experience.
    After all, they are “only here for your safety!”

  10. Just get me from point A to point B safely and sometimes on time.
    Give me a real Coke, no ice please. I’ll be perfectly happy.
    Read the hat that I wear when I am on the plane. It clearly says “Do Not Disturb “. I was going to get one that said Leave Me Alone but that seemed too aggressive.

  11. It is ironic that the new American management chooses now to use the excuse of cost cutting to eliminate the espresso machines. Considering they paid twice before installing espresso machines. A Flight Attendant was telling me Orignally American Managment contracted With a company to design and build these special espresso machines to fit
    Their planes back before 2001. After 2001 their Management blamed cost cutting when they cancelled the contract, but still had to pay for them under terms of the contract.
    Later when things improved American hired another company to design and build the current espresso machines. Maybe they are confused about how much fuel is saved when a espresso machine is replaced by a regular coffee machine?

  12. American hasn’t had espresso machines on their planes for a long time now. So this must be an old article .
    Thats long before covid

  13. I’m a concierge key so it seems hard to even rhinking on flying in another airline, but it seems that evwryday American gives me one more little reason..
    First those horrible new domestic first class seats, no IFE and as thin and hard as a box of cardboard, than the reduced food (even before COVID), and with Covid, their First and Biz food are pathetic. And now taking away the expresso? That was one of the last good reason to upgrade to first on the 77W, as the seat isn’t actually better than the biz class, bigger but not any more comfortable (besides the turndown service and cheap pajamas).
    It seems that for us living in the USA, if we are to stick with one airline, we have to choose based only on convinience and hard product offering for long flights.

  14. They lying to y’all anyway. The espresso machines are replaced with normal brew coffee machines as the spot in the plane can’t be empty. Thus it’s not really weight saving ?

  15. To Kevin: the espresso machines are there and haven’t been removed (yet). YOU just weren’t told about them!

  16. Lets help AA to save even more weight on their planes. Travel with an airline which still offers a proper F experience.

  17. What a disgrace, it’s truly a race to the bottom. Is having one consistent premium service for a US carrier too much to ask for? Apparently it is.

  18. Let’s not forget, that US Airways was actually the first US carrier with onboard espresso machines- these were installed on their factory fresh A330-300s in 99/00. The problem was the crews often claimed the machines were broken as they couldn’t be bothered to make the drinks. The America West management team ordered the A330-200s after the US/HP merger and actually ordered them with espresso machines as well.

  19. I’d say lets start charging coach customers $1000 roundtrip LAX-JFK and then the airlines can start paying SkyChef’s $7 per coach meal for customers. The problem is everyone wants something for nothing. Many people forget that like ant other entity this is a business and business needs to make money ihey and other companies are not a charity. Next we will see bare bones rental cars. Perhaps Hertz who is BK will start getting cars from Ford that have just the car and the car will have min safety equipment and a spedimoter. No radio no austomatic windows or door locks, and if you want a car with a engine it will cost you more

  20. The same airline that removed one olive from First Class salads in order to save fuel. Whilst I still think it shows inverted reason, AA hasn’t merged with or been bought by another carrier. Still, a shtupid (sic) bloody, annoying move.

  21. Frankly, if they truly want to “prevent confusion about what services are currently offered” they should stop referring to their marginally-better-than-cattle-class as “first class”. Leave the term for international airlines that really do offer a first class product.

  22. First class what’s that they used to have seats with real footrest that came up. He used to actually know your name before you boarded. Real knives not plasticware. Especially in economy would be nice that would be request if they served anything that I had to cut ever. Pricing that would make real sense first class that’s not five times economy

  23. @Todd writes, “any people forget that like ant other entity this is a business and business needs to make money ihey and other companies are not a charity”

    This gets it completely wrong.

    1) American already had the espresso machines. This isn’t a question of do you go out and install machines. It’s fuel savings, and that’s no zero, but the cost differential isn’t large.

    2) American can’t pursue a lowest-fare strategy or it loses because it already has higher costs than competitors and this differential rose during the pandemic because they (1) didn’t get senior employee early-outs the way competitors did, and (2) have more debt and debt service than anyone else.

    American needs to earn a revenue premium because they’re a high cost carrier. That means they need both a product and schedule that customers want to fly. They need to be better than competitors.

    That’s not a guarantee of success, but not doing so is a near-guarantee of failure as a business.

  24. True to Doug’s management style. Remove everything that makes the customer happy while on the aircraft. He did this with the IFE when he took over US Air, all in the name of saving jet fuel.

  25. Bad bad move.

    It isn’t uncommon when the ONLY thing a high level frequent flyers in First Class wants is an espresso based drink.

    This is often the case on transatlantic night flights i’ve worked from the East Coast to the UK. The customer will eat in the lounge, want to bed straight down and all they want is an espresso before landing.

    I’d be embarrassed to refuse a First Class passenger something so expected.

  26. The slams on AA’s domestic “first class” are spot on. I booked First Class on AA recently DFW-JAX. The only difference from UA Economy Plus from 10 years ago was a slightly wider seat. Extremely disappointed.

  27. The little Nespresso on the kitchen counter at home weighs 2 Kg, 4.4 lb. just checked. Recent reviews of their F catering are no less than shocking, and those cuts are not ones anyone could point at and say, “Right! That’s reasonable with covid!”.

    Seems to me that this airline has gone from shaving costs to cutting the skin. Eeek! When stores and restaurants, or service establishments, do that, the bankruptcy notice on the doors, the shiny new locks and a For Lease sign seem to follow.

  28. @Aaron

    They are doing a wonderful job diving to the bottom. Hopefully they don’t pull Alaska down with them ;-(

  29. Is the food served in 3-class transcon F any different than transcon J these days? And on one tray?

  30. I always travel on AA with a few instant Starbucks coffee packets. adding one or 1/2 of one of those packets, really improves the airline coffee experience.

  31. The point is not confusion between classes of service…it’s confusion between airplane types and subcontractors. Management is dumbing down service to the lowest common denominator…the small-cabin regional jet, flown cheaply by regional partners, at least half of which have nothing to do with American Airlines.

    AA’s current post-bankruptcy management has proven there is money to be made by scraping the bottom of the barrel. They’re good at it…but what they’re NOT good at is running a premium airline. AA has become USAirways, which has become Spirit #2. Why else would AA’s management be satisfied with both profitability and a number 8 ranking in customer service? Shows where the focus is. As a famous *other* CEO once said, you can make a pizza so cheaply people won’t eat it. I fear AA is getting to that tasty pizza aforementioned.

    In all fairness, many businesses are/will be using the current state of pandemic hysteria as an excuse to cut service and costs…and their customers just shake theirs heads as if to say, “Yeah…it’s got to be that way.”

  32. I understand that AA is not particulary focussed on attracting European customers right now, since they can’t enter the US anyway. But once the immigration barriers are removed, I guess they will have to consider European tastes. And there, even in Business, Espresso is a must.

  33. What a scandal! I’m so offended!

    On a more serious note: it’s the same thinking behind removing ovens. Yes, you save a little bit on fuel but the “big” saving is maintenance. It’s one more thing that can’t break, and less spares have to be held in stock. I only drink coffee in the form of Irish or espresso martini so it won’t affect me, but for those who enjoy coffee this is sad. Imagine the outrage removing champagne would cause amongst bloggers lol.

  34. @Andre Garcia I agree, they’re all garbage. I’m a 1K with United in a midsize city without a favored airline, and the only reason I pick them over the others is their international partners work out far better for me. United is on notice: I want my snack box back or rivers of blood will flow.

  35. After a long and trying year for the entire world and the airline industry, its such a comfort to see and hear that some customers remain forever focused on themselves and their coffee.

    Some things will never change.

    Keep on it real,
    Jimmy Mack

  36. American has gone from a 5 Star Innovator airlines to a 3rd World Greyhound airline! If they’re concerned with weight why paint the aircraft!?

  37. If someone is “obsessed with coffee” the last thing they should care about is what happens to a pod machine.

    That is like being obsessed with keeping up to date with world news, and then being concerned if TikTok went away…

  38. It really is worth noting that all other OneWorld carriers, which pre-pandemic I flew often, as well as many other international carriers I have sampled, have been offering espresso drinks in both F and J for years now. I mean ALL of them: BA, JL, IB, CX, QF, QR, LA, even RJ (!).

    In fact, I never understood why AA offered espresso drinks in F only. And now this.

    At least they finally upgraded their coffee machines in lounges in the latest generation, after for years serving undrinkable stuff. Or maybe those have now been removed as well, to “reduce weight” or whatever?

  39. They should consider selling the espresso machines second hand. We’ve seen a lot of strange airline stuff being sold to the public.

  40. The fish Stinks from the head. DOUG PARKER is woefully misplaced as CEO of a customer service based industry. I imagine that his dinner Parties include, fees for Valet parking, coat check, change/cancelation of RSVP & now no Espresso. He and the public would be better served by his direction of cost savings “Skills” in a bloated bureaucratic area defense contracting. SPIRIT Airlines is a bar too high for Mr Parker. He’s going for AA rebranding.. Souless Sky. Ps I’ve flown Close to 700,000miles on AA.

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