American Airlines Cuts Back on Special Meals

American Airlines introduced new domestic mainline first class lunches and dinners in the fall and breakfasts and regional jet meals over winter.

In general I’m not a fan of their food efforts, and the new name of the game is ‘simplicity’.

What’s been a great option, though, is pre-ordering special meals which have been surprisingly good. In fact I couldn’t quite understand the generosity of this investment.

If you’re booked into first class at least 24 hour prior to flight you can choose your meal. I’ve really enjoyed the Muslim meals.

When pre-ordering you have the two options that would normally be on the flight, special meals, and cheese plates and now a charcuterie plate which is pretty good.

I told you that ‘simplicity’ was the direction American was headed with their catering, and I’ve also written that the option to pick a good meal seemed too generous. So it shouldn’t surprise that there are significant cutbacks in the special meal program. (HT: @xJonNYC)

Special Meals(SPML)- Diabetic(DBML), Asian Vegetarian(AVML), Hindu(HNML), Muslim(MOML), Gluten Free(GFML), Vegan(VGML)

  • Above listed main pre-order meals from domestic stations will receive standardized and frozen pre-prepared meals. Meals will have a one year frozen shelf life
  • Salads and appetizers are prepared fresh by the local caterer
  • Steaks that have appeared for DBML meals will mostly switch to a pre-prepared chicken entree
  • Asian Vegetarian (AVML), Hindu (HNML), Muslim (MOML) all receive the same meal. If not the pre-prepared meal, they’re made to the same basic menu requirements

The Asian Vegetarian, Hindu, and Muslim meals are all the same thing, they just list the options separately. No more meat, then, with Muslim meals. The diabetic meal won’t get steak anymore, now it’s chicken. And meals will be frozen rather than fresh with a one year shelf life. Yum!

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, 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. So that means the Kosher meal is still probably the best bet, if you want a special meal.

  2. I get the kosher when I can, a slightly higher level of quality. The amount of packaging can be difficult to deal with though.

  3. So sad. American’s Hindu meals were a delicious option on domestic flights. No brainer every time – flavour and a good portion. There goes that.

  4. Honestly, this makes 100% business sense. AA is not a restaurant, and serving food on domestic flights isn’t a necessity. If you really need a special domestic first class meal, you should bring it yourself or expect something pretty ordinary. I’m actually surprised there are any “special meals” on US domestic flights on any carrier.

  5. Soon there will be one “meal” covering everyone consisting of an apple, wrapped in plastic wrap. In the meantime, pick your poison. Bon Appetit!

  6. American airlines – the description of Hindu meal is kept as vague as possible. There are no such thing as “Hindu dietary practice”. Important to recall Hindu does not mean meatless (about 1/2 Hindus do eat meat) since the religion does not ask to avoid meat or fish. Therefore American airlines could follow other international airline partners such as British Airways who serve “Asian/Hindu vegetarian, A meat-free, spicy meal. Does not contain fish, shellfish, meat, poultry or eggs’. Most people who are Hindu would agree with the British Airways definition – since meat is to avoided during travel, particularly if the source of meat or fish is unknown.

  7. On 4 intercontinental American Airlines First class flights I requested Lactose Free meals.NEVER got them. Was miserable 11 hours each time trying to make do and inevitably ended with horrible cramps.NEVER had that problem with British Airways, a superb first class service.


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