We have seen most airlines reduce flight service due to the pandemic in order to minimize contact between people and to maximize the time people wear their masks. Delta recently announced that it would improve its flight service from April 14th.
Now American has made a similar announcement, but only for first class flights over 2,200 miles.
American up-to-date domestic premium catering
What is the service like in American Airlines’ domestic First Class at the moment?
- On flights up to 900 miles, the airline will serve drinks on request, but not food
- On flights longer than 900 miles, the airline serves either a sandwich or yogurt and cereal for breakfast and a sandwich or cheese platter for lunch or dinner
- Exclusively on transcontinental premium flights, the airline serves a warm meal on a single tray
American Airlines’ premium turkey sandwich
American expands the catering of “Fresh Bites”
At the beginning of this year, American Airlines tested a new “Fresh Bites” concept in first class on selected flights from Charlotte, which is now being expanded.
Starting April 14, 2021, American Airlines will extend the Fresh Bites trial to domestic first class customers on flights longer than 2,200 miles (approximately 4.5 hours).. American plans to expand this to other (presumably shorter) flights later this year. Fresh Bites offers a wider variety of foods and includes:
- Items like fresh fruit, yogurt, and breakfast rolls for breakfast
- Items like sandwiches, salads and fresh starters for lunch and dinner
View from the wing has a picture of what this looked like during the process. You can generally expect a tapas box with a variety of options, such as lettuce, cheese, fresh fruits, vegetables, and more.
Note that nothing changes on Premium Transcon flights where a hot meal is still served on a tray. Premium Transcon routes include the following markets:
American Airlines hot meal on Premium Transcon flights
How American Airlines describes this catering change:
The offers tested are heartier than the fresh snacks customers are currently receiving, but they also include customer favorites such as fruit and cheese. American worked hand in hand with APFA and a team of experts on the Travel Health Advisory Panel to provide guidance and feedback throughout the planning process. Feedback from flight attendants and customers has also played a crucial role in carefully returning new offers.
Will this be the new normal for top notch domestic catering?
Interestingly, at the start of the pandemic, American continued to serve hot meals on all flights longer than 2,200 miles. However, this service was discontinued from July 2020. At this point, the airline has just started serving the same sandwich or cheese platter that is currently available.
In other words, the catering on flights over 2,200 miles will be better now than in the last few months, but not as good as last July.
It seems increasingly likely that first grade meal changes can be permanent. In August 2020, the then American SVP of Flight Service said the following about the future of in-flight catering:
“We won’t be coming back with full tray service right away. There will have to be an intermediate step. And I really think there is an opportunity to reconsider. If you think about the footprint we have for the food service and how we served it, it has been very similar over the years. And is there a way to bring back something that still has a premium feel, but is different and more modern, and is this an opportunity to roll back in a way that we may have changed more incrementally before? “
American Airlines will bring back bulk groceries in first class on flights over 2,200 miles, but will not go as far as bringing back hot meals. Later this year, this service was to be expanded to include shorter flights.
It’s becoming increasingly apparent that in-flight meals are unlikely to ever return to what they were before the coronavirus. Personally, I won’t miss them too much as it’s not like they are ever great …
What do you think of Americans domestic premium food changes?