7 New Cuts to American Airlines Inflight Catering Including Pre-Bagged Bread and Fewer Champagne Glasses

When American Airlines management ran US Airways their ticker symbol was ‘LCC’ for low cost carrier. They briefly tried to charge for water. They always seem to be looking for an angle to shave cost. And internal documents reveal there are a few new ones coming to inflight catering.

  • They’re swapping the beef filet in domestic first class for a short rib.

  • Garnishes are being 86’d from entree salads, mezza plates, and dinner protein choices

  • Bread will come “pre-bagged”

    Previously breads were bagged by the catering kitchen

    Pre-bagged bread will provide a budget savings

  • Hong Kong international first class flights lose an appetizer choice (2 choices instead of 3, no more Shacima crusted foie gras)

  • Long haul economy second meal service – which may be a breakfast box or a tray setup today – gets replaced by a breakfast bag containing yogurt, low sugar granola, and a blueberry fig bar.

  • Smaller tray liners.

    As you will notice in the photos below, the Atlas tray liners will have a small margin of additional uncovered space around the edges when used on AA Standard trays.

  • Fewer champagne glasses in international first class (24 down to 16).

This is all said to be in the name of “simplicity” which may well become American’s “bonvoy!”

The airline has a new Managing Director for inflight food and beverage. He’s legacy American, but he clearly knows how this game is played.

If you’re looking for a good meal though remember that late April will bring Passover and Kosher for Passover meals are actually quite good.

They will be available Friday, April 19 through Saturday, April 27 — plus you may luck into them in the days following.

  • Domestic flights have a one-week ‘burn off’ period where they’ll continue to serve remaining Kosher for Passover meals (though May 5).

  • International will continue using Passover meals until gone.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Looks like they are racing UA to the bottom on how much they can cut the soft product

  2. What a sh#t show
    Alec Baldwin was spot on about Americans food which should be called inedible slop
    Even the water is pure crap
    Consumer Reports found arsenic in Crystal Geiser bottled water
    Hopefully their CEO drinks a tanker of it
    If I had to fly American and I won’t now I would eat before boarding rather than poison myself
    What’s sad is 19 years ago American had solid dining on board
    Run! Avoid

  3. Aside from NOO (No Other Option) — which, thankfully, rarely if ever applies in my case — why on earth should I fly American???

  4. There was beef filet in domestic FC? Wow. That really was too generous.

    Not sure what the difference will be in the bread. I’ve always found premium class bread to be surprisingly good, while economy bread is unusually surprisingly bad.

    The second “meal” is eastbound transatlantic economy from the East Coast has always been stupid (nobody is hungry at 1 am and would rather sleep). And usually bad. Not sure why it survives. I guess nobody wants to be first to cut it.

    I guess we’ll now get 2 dozen comments about how folks will never fly AA again because of these changes.

  5. If an airline like AA is having trouble making money with fairly low fuel prices and a decent economy, what is going to happen when the economy turns bad? It just seems like we are at a point in the US economy where almost every business is trying to squeeze out an extra buck from the consumer.

  6. Shouldn’t Doug Parker and his cronies finally admit they just want to be Spirit Airlines?
    Def not a premium carrier

  7. Following in the great tradition of Bob Crandell, who if I recall made the decision to remove olives from salads in order to shave $40k from the annual meal bill

  8. I’m good with “fewer champagne glasses” as Champagne and sparkling wine makers have been saying for some time that such wines should be enjoyed in a regular-sized wine glass with a wider mouth. The “champagne flute” is an affectation designed to maximize the bubbles while detracting from the fact this this is, in fact, wine.

    With that said, based on what AA serve some time, minimizing the sensory experience may not be all bad 🙂

  9. “Following in the great tradition of Bob Crandell, who if I recall made the decision to remove olives from salads in order to shave $40k from the annual meal bill”

    This can never be reprinted too often! Never forget! (And don’t forget good old Jeffrey Katz from American, who ran Swissair into bankruptcy.)

    p.s. on my next American international flight take-off is at 11pm, thus obviating my even caring what is being served as I’ll be asleep

  10. Congratulations, American, on your sixth place in the Points Guy’s annual ranking of US airlines, and holding steady as the most mediocre airline. Quite an accomplishment as the worlds’ largest airline. You’re not the cheapest, not the most comfortable, not the most punctual, not the most generous, not the newest, not the tastiest, not the most liked, not the worst, you’re just… I am trying to find the one word that would describe you best, but I am struggling…


  11. I think they should also eliminate the silverware. If people will use their fingers instead, then AA will save few more bucks.

  12. I just can’t believe these sorts of piecemeal reductions really result in a huge cost savings. Did they give a number for this?

  13. Most of these are #FirstClassProblems and just come across like whining of what are, for the most part, marginal changes.

    The changes in seat pitch and bathroom size, and the MAX groundings, are real problems by comparison. I just can’t get worked up over stuff like this.

  14. Since I like my meat well done and short ribs are well done by default, its not all bad 🙂

  15. Not that I support or hate the prescribed changes, but if there truly a waste element to the above mentioned items, then why not cut it? Is your first class experience going to be ruined because a bread basket is not packaged separately? BTW- it already was being done, no one noticed it.

    If people complain about the removal of these items, then the shouldn’t also be complaining about the “quality” of the food. YOu can’t have it both ways.

    And a good point mentioned about the Y meal on atlantic service. While it’s a nice gesture and maybe help to adjust your time clock, in reality, you’ve only not eaten for maybe 5-6 hours? I prefer to bring some trail mix type stuff and enjoy that rathe than 8hour old eggs.. OMG YUMMY!

  16. I would kind of understand this stuff if they were bleeding red ink and were fighting for survival. But they are making record profits. So what’s the motivation for these cutbacks? It’s not like they are taking away Dom Perignon or fine caviar. They’ve already eliminated so much of the premium catering from years past, it just feels like every reduction now cuts into bone. Please AA, show us flyers some mercy!

  17. I haven’t seen a filet on the plane in a while. Short rib is actually a much better choice. It remains moist and isn’t as likely to be overlooked. The garnishes probably weren’t getting on the plate so it’s just money wasted. They save money by not having the caterer pack the bread, it’s done at the bakery. And the tray liners probably aren’t smaller. From the picture it just indicates they are going to a standard liner that fits the Atlas trays but not the AA standard tray.

  18. In some ways this reminds me of Bob Ayling at British Airways. He inherited a company making record profits from Lord King and Lord Marshall, yet greed got the better of him and within two years he was losing hundreds of millions of pounds. Needless to say, he didn’t last long.

    Just remember, there are many components that go into making a “premium” experience. In isolation, individual things may seem trivial, but once you start cutting things piece by piece, the cumulative effect becomes significant. Remember, it’s a revenue problem AA has and this surely does little to remedy that.

  19. Honestly not every change at AA is a cut or negative change for passengers and crew, as this blog tends to insinuate of everything.
    – The change from Filet to Short Rib is actually an effort to raise customer satisfaction scores. While it seems the reverse would be true, the Short Rib receives higher scores vs the Filet. Most likely is related to one retaining flavor through the various steps that is airline catering.
    – I cant imagine how when frozen bread is placed into a plastic bag is considered a cut, but alas. This should actually lead to fewer catering errors as most problems occur at the local kitchen.
    – Garnishes being removed are due to many Flight Attendants not using them or placing them incorrectly which lead to waste. This isn’t to blame Flight Attendants. It was deemed unnecessary when considering other job duties along with the confines of the aircraft galley.
    – The economy pre-arrival meal service is, again, an improvement for passengers. Most would prefer to rest rather than a tray service or just aren’t hungry at that hour and this gives the option of eating later.
    – Reducing champagne glasses is hardly a cut when the cabin only holds eight passengers.
    At best this post should about services changes and one cut, dropping the third HKG Appetizer. Chill out with the endless negative spin on all things American Airlines.

  20. bornstein is as bad bad as it gets, i mean who wants to eat defrosted celery and carrots and picked gefilte fish?

    I got a inflightdelite koshair meal on delta and for KSML it was really tasty and fresh. most importantly for me it has OU hecsher.

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