My Best American Airlines Meal In A Very Long Time

Filed Under: American, Travel

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the special meal that I ordered on my American Airlines flight from New York to Los Angeles. American’s catering leaves a lot to be desired, so I figured I’d branch out a bit and try some of their special meals.

Asian vegetarian meals on airplanes are almost always Indian food. Not only do I love Indian food in general, but Indian food also heats up well and is so flavorful, so it’s really the perfect thing to serve on airplanes due to our dulled taste buds and the necessity to reheat dishes.

The last Asian vegetarian meal I ordered was fairly good, so I decided to order another one yesterday on my flight from London to Los Angeles on American. This was easily the best meal I’ve had on American in a very long time.

To start I was served an appetizer, consisting of olives, beans, etc., which was super spicy. There was also a side salad.

The dessert was served on the starter tray, and was exceptional. I made the stupid mistake of asking Ford if he wanted to try it, and next thing I knew, the whole thing was gone.

The main course had curry, spinach, and rice, and once again, was spicy.

The pre-landing meal didn’t seem to be Indian for once, but rather was a great tofu dish with vegetables. It was served with breadsticks and a muffin.

When you order a special meal you still get the mixed nuts before the meal, you can still select something from the breadbasket, and you can still choose from the selection of desserts.

The meal as such, though, was exceptional. The food was flavorful and for the most part healthy compared to what you’d usually be served (especially if you skip the bread, muffin, etc.).

Originally I started ordering Asian vegetarian meals just out of curiosity, but I’m updating my AAdvantage profile to always add the special meal request from hereon out. If you haven’t tried it yet and like Indian vegetarian food, I highly recommend it.

  1. Doesn’t opting for a special order meal basically eliminate you from the pool for operational upgrades?

  2. I’m on a flight from LHR to JFK right now. The quality of the ordinary Biz catering ingredients was much improved today.

  3. I’m curious to hear if they’ve changed their meal policies — it used to be that special meals were always the same. For years. I can’t tell you how sick I was of the bland, flavorless wrap served as the “snack” for *any* veggie meal on transpacs. It was unchanged for literally the entire two-and-a-half years I was flying to Asia every-other-month. The flight attendants started to recognize me, knew I hated it, and would proactively put together a fruit plate or something else they could scrounge together. (I also discovered through the use of SWUs that the meals were identical in every cabin, just variously served on real plates. There was no extra soup in first, so if the standard catering wasn’t veggie you were SOL)

  4. Lucky, you should try vegetarian meals on international business and first class flights and review them for us! I tried it on Asiana first class and almost cried as I was so hungry at the end of a 14 hour flight. Every plate consisted of raw carrots, cucumbers, and zucchini. I was starving by the end! On air china first class I requested vegetarian months ahead with them over the phone but apparently they only received my request a day ahead so they didn’t order it, but they got us some good indian meals from business.

    But it would be great if you can review vegetarian meals on your flights to see how they differ between airlines and which ones are good.

  5. Nice to know that you enjoyed Indian food in general. I wasn’t as Lucky as you on an AA flight on ORD-LHR a few years ago, I was served cold pasta in an even colder cabin. Perhaps you’d want to plan a future trip to India, centered around its food?

  6. “I tried it on Asiana first class and almost cried as I was so hungry at the end of a 14 hour flight. Every plate consisted of raw carrots, cucumbers, and zucchini. I was starving by the end!”

    Strange, considering how there are many delicious vegetarian Korean dishes.

  7. @Kyle Not at all… I’ve gotten op-ups and they usually just note when re-issuing the boarding pass that my original class special meal would be served. FAs have then always asked if there was anything extra off the C/F menu that I wanted to add to my meal.

  8. Flew AA LHR-MIA two days ago. I ordered ahead of time the “strip loin”. A traveling companion selected the beef item from the menu. They were identical. While the beef wasn’t overcooked, it was so tough that I gave up half way through. My companion had two bites. So much for medium rare beef jerky like steak! Still, the service was fine, the reverse herring bone seats are excellent and the red wines were decent. Further, I had flown Delta One JFK-FCO ten days before and their meals weren’t very good, especially the breakfast omelet, the seat wouldn’t work properly (bolt upright) until fixed after the meal, the IFE had to be rebooted twice, it would let me select only one movie (not my choice) and the cabin was so hot I removed my light weight cotton quarter zip and sat there in my not-so-trendy logo t-shirt. The service was good but harried. Quite a disappointment as I’m usually satisfied with Delta but I like AA a whole lot better now.

  9. Yes, I still think it’s hit or miss. There was one flight, I think it was either SQ or Air China (probably the latter), where I ordered the VGML option. For the appetizer I got a plate of poorly steamed vegetables: Carrot sticks, asparagus. It felt like something you would serve a sheep or a cow. In my head I was like, “Well at least it’s healthy.” When I finish it she comes back with the exact same dish.

    “Oh, I already had the appetizer, thanks.”

    “No, this is also your main meal.”

    The Indian food I’ve had on planes was always disappointing (though what you got served looks awesome.)

    My approach nowadays is to eat at the lounge and not rely on the flight too much.

  10. Carrot sticks, zucchini, and worst of all: tofu. Ugh…..

    How in the world is that a “meal”?

    Not that ‘too tough to cut’ strip steak is much better.

    I much prefer the Lobster Thermidor, and roast pheasant breast, on SQ. 🙂

  11. A large proportion of the catering workers servicing LHR will be from the Indian sub-continent, or direct descendants of people from there. Indian food in London can be very good indeed.

  12. That’s delicious! AA’s premium transcon service looks great. UA’s, especially recently, has been subpar

  13. Unfortunately kosher meals are almost always terrible (exceptions being JetBlue Mint and El Al [of course]). I know it really depends on the caterer in the city where they source their food, but it seems like there’s almost no care at all in the quality or taste. I usually just bring my own and hen hate myself for even trying the airline’s kosher meal.

  14. The regular meal is impressive in J as well on LAX-LHR. I had fish both times , it was the very good. Surprisingly, the cheddar on the cheese plate was amazingly good – and I had just come from Neal’s Yard Dairy (one of the best cheese shops in the world) and AA’s cheddar was on par with the artisinal cheddars from Neal’s Yard.

  15. Seems like a lot of bread and dumplings. That would suit me fine, but I’m surprised at your positive review. In nearly every bad review you give of a meal, lounge or breakfast buffet you mention there being “a lot of carbs” or “mostly carbs, which I skipped.”
    If you skipped the carbs here you’d have very little to eat. I’m sure the food was spicy and delicious. You seem to be a lot more tolerant of some carbs than others.

  16. Lucky is also tolerant towards some type of ham/pork dishes, even though he says he doesn’t eat ham…

  17. The meal is exactly the same if you order other Asian meals or Muslim. I fly to ORD from LHR and had the exact same meal. The pre landing meal is also served as Muslim starter for Club Europe in BA and isn’t Tofu it’s Indian Cheese, paneer.

  18. Heathrow Catering is pretty brilliant, of all the Asian Vegeterian meals ordered (regardless of airline) has come out of Heathrow, the next best was AVML on Qatar out of Tokyo (NRT). Worst ones was out SFO!

  19. It may just be me but that food looks utterly gross and disgusting – and not a very good presentation for an international flight. Then again, I’m not a fan of Indian food – so maybe that’s it.

  20. Can’t do Asian veg due to the dairy and eggs. Try ordering VGML (strict vegetarian/vegan). I can assure you that you won’t get anything remotely resembling that tray.

  21. Can you change meal preference for all flights? I thought you had to request on each.

    I don’t see anything in the AAdvantage profile? Am I looking in the wrong place?

  22. That sounds incredible, but Im afraid it might be a one in a million chance you get a delicious meal like that. Tough to risk it and get a cucumber wrap.

  23. Flew MIA-LGA, pre-ordered it (AVM) and it was very good, much better than other options (chicken or ravioli). Thanks for a tip!

  24. @CJ and we Indians are not a fan of you people’s food either. We find your food as gross and disgusting as y’all find ours. So get off your racist high horse.

  25. @CJ billions of people from all cultural backgrounds love Indian food, so you can get off your racist high horse.

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