I flew out of Chicago O’Hare on Thursday and it was interesting how the dedicated PreCheck security line was backed up – while the checkpoint mere feet away, with both PreCheck and standard screening, had absolutely no one waiting for PreCheck at all. When there’s a long screening queue always check the other security lines before committing to wait.
On arrival at the airport two days earlier I picked up a sandwich from Tortas Frontera, so I skipped it on this visit. Heading straight to the American Airlines Admirals Club it struck me just how copious the food offerings are… at Delta Sky Clubs, where you’ll find beef, chicken, salads, and sandwiches and many more options as well, all complimentary for guests.
American Airlines sells food in its Admirals Clubs and offers a much more modest spread.
This is what food looks like in the afternoon at American’s main Chicago O’Hare Admirals Club. It’s their food after increasing investment in the product to support an annual fee increase for the Citi Executive card the comes with lounge membership.
Even so, American Airlines takes to heart the admonition from its CEO, upon assuming the role not to “spend a dollar more than we need to.” They use very small plates, to limit the amount of food that guests take.
The problem is that the plates are so small that it’s almost impossible not to make a mess. If you take more than a cracker, a cherry tomato, or a single piece of lettuce at a time some of the food is bound to spill over beyond the plate. And buffet areas get messy. Here’s the floor in front of the buffet:
While American holds down its food cost, they make the spaces themselves less pleasant and drive up their labor costs from the need to constantly clean the area. It’s not even clear how much money they save as a result.
I suppose I should be grateful. If American invested in food the way that Delta does, more passengers might take the card (the idea!) and use the lounges, considering it worth doing so. And then they’d be more crowded, so less pleasant for me.
I keep it for the amazing agents in the Austin club, and for assistance during irregular operations. And I live with the more meager offerings than you find from Delta and even from United. However the cost-saving efforts with small plates, causing a constant mess in their clubs, is the most American Airlines thing ever.