American Airlines Bringing Back Snacks To 2.5 Hour Domestic First Class Flights

U.S. airlines generally eliminated meals on most domestic first class flights. That wasn’t about eliminating touch points with customers. That’s an argument for dropping food for sale (to get rid of payments). But they kept serving food on longer flights and there are great ways to present food safely, as airlines have always done with kosher meals.

Eliminating domestic first class food service is all about cost-cutting. At American Airlines it was a quick decision the CEO says he didn’t even know about in advance.

When people (1) fly because they have to, and (2) don’t have many competitive options because of reduced schedules, inflight product doesn’t drive business. And airlines are looking to conserve cash. Even when business turns around, it’ll take time for product to recover as carriers try to manage their debt burdens.

In the near-term, airlines are restoring their schedules (somewhat) on domestic routes and there are (some) more passengers willing to travel. That means competition starts to matter. Delta is again serving alcohol where it was previously free, no payment transactions.

Now American Airlines says internally that they’re restoring a little bit of food to first class on flights between 2.5 and 4.5 hours, as a competitive response to improved product elsewhere. Per JonNYC:

It’s not much but it makes very clear that the lack of food is about money, not safety. Packaged snacks didn’t suddenly become safe on 2.5 hour flights when they were unsafe (with less virus spread than there is today in American hubs Dallas, Miami, and Phoenix!) a few weeks ago.

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. Wonder if AA will bring back decent and respectable customer service which was lost to the merger with US Airways.

  2. It’s better they’ve started serving food to local travellers travelling for at least 2.5 hours again. Not serving, though would save them some money, would hurt their business on the long run. By the way, how much is the meal that it can save anything significant for their business?

  3. Flying during covid (12 flights) was an absolute joy. In first class AA at least offered a full drink service (most of the time). In coach, nothing, but you could ask for water or something. The peaceful nature of the cabin due to the lack of interruptions was heavenly. It would not bother me one bit if AA didn’t return service as we knew it before.

    I think they should offer some method of on screen ordering (if they had seat back screens!) for those passengers that wanted something specific. But otherwise I think they should offer bottled water, soda bottles and snack bags upon disembarking at connecting hubs.

  4. In my opinion decent and respectable care was gone long before the merger with US Airways. I suspect the union will argue that it’s unsafe to serve food again because the FA’s are so lazy all they want to do is stand around and chatter.

  5. AA offered great customer service during corvid.
    Flight Attendant’s offered drinks in addition to snack bags.
    AA Has clean, new aircraft.
    Unlike Delta.

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