New American Airlines First Class Meal Service

Filed Under: American

As part of their merger, American and US Airways have aligned their catering standards as of September 1, 2014. As you might expect in the case of a merger, they’re meeting somewhere in the middle in terms of the standards compared to the two airlines’ previous policies.

Here’s a chart with their new meal window policy:


This merger is especially interesting since American has historically had the best and most extensive domestic catering of any airline (in my opinion), while US Airways had among the worst.

Yesterday I flew from Chicago to Las Vegas in American first class, which was my first flight on American since the new meal standards kicked in earlier in the week. It was a dinner flight, and at 1,514 miles in distance it fell in the 3:30-4:30 hour range, so it was a standard midcon dinner service.

Fortunately American is keeping warm mixed nuts around, though they were served in a US Airways style ramekin as opposed to an American ramekin.


For dinner there was the choice between penne pasta and chicken teriyaki. I ordered the latter.

The salad, starter, and main course were all served on one tray.


The starter was roast beef on a “crostini” (aka soggy piece of bread, in this case) with caramelized onions.


Then there was a salad with two tomatoes and two cucumbers.


The salad consisted mostly of shredded lettuce, which I found puzzling. I expect shredded lettuce on my Subway footlong and not in a salad.


The main course consisted of chicken teriyaki with rice and vegetables. I don’t exactly have very high standards for domestic airline chicken, but this one was especially bad and rubbery.


Then for dessert I was offered chocolate mousse cheesecake, which was quite good.


Bottom line

Personally I’m not someone that cares all that much about domestic catering, as I don’t mind picking up a sandwich on the ground and having more time to work with onboard Wi-Fi. That being said, I know a lot of people were curious what the new meals look like, so I figured I’d share my experience.

It’s interesting that the plating is mostly US Airways style. For example, below is a picture of a meal I had between Phoenix and Chicago on US Airways last year (on the plus side, they added cloth napkins rather than the paper ones that US Airways had).


Anyway, on the whole I wasn’t really impressed with the new meal. In terms of quantity it was similar to the old one, but the salad was horrible (I really felt like they created it at the “topping” bar at a Subway), and the chicken even more rubbery than usual, which is saying a lot.

Based on that one flight I’d say these meals are definitely a downgrade for American flyers, though US Airways flyers win out compared to what they had before.

What has been your experience with catering at the “new” American?

  1. For someone who doesn’t care about domestic catering, that was a long post (though much of what you said toward the end was simply a repeat of what was said earlier). #firstworldproblems

  2. Lucky, you fly on mostly intl award tickets, when and where are you flying to earn exp? Ive never see you write any reports on those flights.

  3. @Mark;
    Most of the travel blogs, including one mile at a time, are totally about First World Problems.
    If not interested, don’t read and don’t comment.
    We get it. You are not interested.

  4. So if the food on AA is now downgraded…who would you say has the best domestic catering these days in the US in premium cabins?

  5. @ anon — I do a TON of domestic flying. I don’t write about it because it’s mostly quite boring. I’m at about 150,000 flown revenue miles with American this year.

  6. @ wwk5d — That’s a toughie. I’d say they’re all somewhat similar nowadays, or at least there’s not as much of a difference as there used to be.

  7. The food looks unapettising,the presentation is bad,and we should tell AA whats a salad is,frankly BA club europe even 1hour flight is thousand miles better.

  8. Wow you are “lucky” that you got a MEAL. I have been on a similar miles flight UA – Calgary-Chicago one in Y and 2 mth later same flight in First. Only diff was the 8 dollar chips and drinks (wine in plastic) was free in First for a 3:40 flight. Come to Europe most networks airlines has a great food service – even domestic a short leg FRA-STR in C tapas style box – wine-and ice cream for 25 min flight. Us airlines way behind.

  9. American is already becoming US Scare under the AA logo
    The recent declines in food service are not accidental
    Its just a matter of time AA becomes the next Delta

  10. I had two of their “dinner” service meals this week- the chicken (different than the one pictured) and the beef (not steak, some type of roast beef).
    They were horrible, absolutely horrible.
    Like you said, the chicken was rubber, the beef piece was ok, but I didn’t care for the sauce slopped all over it.

    I find it very tacky that the salad dressing is in a plastic container, versus added to salad (back in the good ole days).

    The only saving grace were the desserts – the apple crisp was amazing. The cookies, while no longer baked on board, were ok as well, but not as good as baked on board.

    Overall, this is TERRIBLE, as AA has seriously downgraded the quality of their meals. I’ve let the twitter team as well as Customer Service know, and will continue to bother them after every flight.

  11. All the AA apologists who say Parker will be miles ahead of Smisek at United – this is your dose of reality.

    Just wait until the new AAdvantage is announced. Suzanne works for Tempe now.

  12. @GRE
    What happened to Suzanne?
    Please don’t tell me they have her locked in a room in Arizona while US Scare brainwashes her šŸ™

  13. Please don’t lump Subway with AA’s lousy catering. Subway salads can be made however you want, including using spinach as the primary ingredient instead of tasteless iceberg shavings like you received.

  14. this was on a mainline plane right, A320 (if originally US equipment) or B738 (AA equipment) or something? … I’m guessing a similar length/distance flight on an AA regional jet wouldn’t even have meal service even upfront?

  15. Looks like a standard US Airways domestic F meal, tarted-up with a cloth napkin. If you take away the appetizer, stick the cake back on the tray, and seal the cutlery and salt/pepper in a plastic bag with a paper napkin, you’ll have what used to be served in coach on domestic flights back in the 80’s.

  16. Absolutely terrible. We frequently fly DFW to DTW, IND, ORD, & TUC in AA First. All lose meals that had been almost as good as what everybody got in coach forty years ago.

  17. Who needs an inflight meal ex-DFW when there’s the Amex Centurion Club (and LGA, LAS and soon MIA and SFO)? However, I’ve always found AA’s meals in domestic F/transborder C the best among US airlines (but still not up to AC standards). Of course, UA’s offerings had plunged since the merger. I will save my judgement until I’ve taken a few flights (on both carriers) and sampled them first hand. I still like the ability to pre-order my entree which neither DL or UA offer. Have UA flights this week, AA later in the month, and several long connections at DFW!

  18. Had same horrible salad and chicken yesterday. And yes it’s definitely a downgrade from previous quality.
    I didn’t touch the salad (tomatoes I’ve tried but even those weren’t “fresh”). The chicken as you put it was very rubbery. Unfortunately we didn’t have a cake to make up for. Just a plain cookie.

  19. Lucky-

    What’re the odds you left Vegas on Sunday afternoon and were hanging out in the Centurion Lounge? If not, you have a doppleganger.

  20. Oddly, the one time my US flight hit a magic mark allowing us food, it was actually really good (in first).

    What I would like to know is why is there no real food after 8 pm? UA has the same policy but I am rather confused why they can’t push it to 10 pm or so? Last Thursday went: work->parking->airport->boarding->plane without getting a chance to pick up any food for the 4.5 hour flight so was stuck with UA’s “snack basket”.

    Fortunately, it was more substantial than it sounds but having a real meal would’ve been nicer. The plane did have DirecTV and Wi-Fi so that distracted me šŸ™‚

  21. Sad news about the new meals. In your experience, is the same true for business and first class meals in the new plans AA is using for the transcontinental flights? It would be truly sad if the new lie flat seats came with terrible food. And any insights about international travel. Just flew to London and back and the food was still of the same quality as in the past, i.e. quite good.

  22. Having flown for years on business trips, I long ago learned to not depend on airline good as a credible, tasteful method of sustenance on domestic flights. The only way around this is to pre-order a special meal based on some dietary restriction. No extra cost and it is prepared separately from the mass of regular passenger meals. I’ve found food on flights overseas quite different, usually very tasty, well prepared and served at the correct temperature. An example being Edinburg to London morning BA flight that always had a hot breakfast of great scrambled eggs with a meat selection and croissant or other bread along with fresh fruit, juice, coffee.

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