aa 787

Fortunately, you weren’t missing much anyway….

Airlines are caught in an unenviable position, faced with brutal daily losses, while also enduring an uphill battle to win customers back. At some point, it wouldn’t be wrong for customers itching to get back to the skies to think that airlines would launch a charm offensive, bringing back all the things which seemed to have gone missing over the last few years, but not at American.

After billions in US Government bailouts, American has chosen to go the other way, raising baggage fees and slashing away and further reducing, or even removing meal service on flights, even in first class. As other airlines bolster their food and beverage offerings, it’s hard to understand the logic.

American Airlines Cuts Meals From Non Premium Routes

American is removing food almost entirely, even on flights up to five hours long on routes deemed “non” premium. Premium routes like New York to Los Angeles are spared, but shockingly, some international, and even the longest domestic routes such as Los Angeles Hawaii are not.

These flights, some of which are circa 5 hours and can command hefty price tags, particularly in first class, will only receive a cheese and fruit tray. The “bang” for your buck, never had less “bang”. The new mandates mean that domestic, and a few international flights from 900 miles to over 2,200 miles will receive this simplified and much reduced service, with the exception of connecting New York with Silicon Valley and Hollywood.

For smaller hub cities like Philadelphia, or Miami virtually all West Coast flights will operate with this simple stick of cheese and some grapes service, as per View From The Wing. Yes, in “first class”, customers can expect a single cheese and fruit tray, which will likely due little justice to cheese, or fruit, and beverages upon request.

Complimentary Upgrades Causing Cuts?

I’ve never been much for eating on planes, and largely do self cater where possible. But that doesn’t mean this is right, fair, or good. Many airlines are flying into these uncertain and uneasy times by bringing as much normalcy and comfort to the flying experience as possible. Short term losses may lead to long term customers, and getting those who do fly to enjoy the experience could be considered more important than ever.

For US Airlines, they face a greater challenge than many around the world, because more seats up front go to those who didn’t pay for them than anywhere else. US airlines are among the few in the world which offer comp’d upgrades to elite frequent flyers, and with planes flying empty, even the lowest tier travelers are finding seats in first class.

For European and Asian airlines, most of which don’t offer complimentary upgrades even on short flights, it’s easier to keep premium service going up front, because most enjoying it paid a premium for the experience. Is that the customers fault? No. Does it justify American’s new service cuts? No.

The question becomes how an airline like American will ever entice people to pay for these upgraded seats ever again, while offering so little.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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12 Comments

  1. AA is the least desirable airline in US. I would rather take Spirit big front seat over FC AA.

  2. Gilbert – I know you are aware of this but LA-Hawaii isn’t an “international” flight.

    Secondly, as someone with around 8 million miles who is lifetime Platinum on AA and lifetime Gold on DL (around 3 million miles on each of them), while I agree this is cost cutting I also don’t think meal service at all moves the needle for people traveling. Yes people enjoy a nice meal or upgraded drink service but decisions on travel are typically made based on convenience and cost. If there are non-stops that is the first choice. There would have to be a significant cost difference to take a connecting flight. People talk about the quality or availability of airline food but it isn’t a top decision maker – statistics prove this. Also, outside of international business or first class (typically on non-US carriers) there hasn’t IMHO been any “decent” food on airlines in 20 years. I longingly remember the DL flights even on a route like ATL-DFW where you got a shrimp appetizer, salad, steak and then ice cream (all served as separate courses) in the 1990s. Sadly those days are gone and no domestic airline has edible food (even in first).

  3. I only fly to Europe and thankfully have never flown on a domestic airline, except for Delta for connections, and I hated even that. Turkish Airlines has great food, and mostly, so does Air France. I would never fly either United or American, and can barely stand Delta. I’m hoping that as soon as we get a new president, and a viable vaccine, that we can travel to Europe again. I would never vacation in the US. It is devoid of culture, and basically, just not nice enough to waste time in. I would love to see more posts on Business class travel to Europe, and the best 5-star hotels. Monte Carlo would be much appreciated. The Societe des Bains de Mer hotel group is dreamy. Thanks so much for your posts.

  4. @AC 2 flights bring the same for 5 hours, 1 has a meal the other doesn’t, I’m booking the meal flight. I don’t want to bring a bag of food into the plane that will be cold by the hour into the flight when I want to eat.

    Airlines did this in 2002, cut premium services from the people willing to pay more, so they went elsewhere, cut economy, add extra fees, don’t offer free meals for complimentary upgrades then, free unlimited upgrades were a mistake anyway.

  5. It is due to US Air taking control of American Airlines. It is no longer American Airlines only American!
    AA employees lost out in this so called merger!
    All upper management is USAir!
    That’s is why the customer experience is gone.

  6. American I hope you understand that as a business traveler I have other choices. I will stop flying AA until you resume normal delivery of services. AA is using the virus as an excuse to cut services which is ridiculous as offering these services in no way effected the safety of the passengers. If AA wants to become another budget carrier such as Spirit or Frontier than so be it, however your current price structure better change. Until then you will see me on AS, DL and other carriers.

  7. Does anybody remember the news headline when reducing the salad by 1 olive amounted to a significant cost saving measure? We’ve spiraled down further and seems like there’s no bottom in sight.

  8. CMorgan, well said ! I’m a purely leisure traveller from the U.K., but I like to treat myself to F when travelling domestic within the US. Delta gets my business from now on… I’m not even bothered about the Avios points I will no longer acquire. AA.. no thank you !!

  9. No problem. American Airlines…without me in First….never ever..even if You would pay me! You can cheat the stupid…cut the salary of Your CEO, etc. Then You have enough money for us..

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