I’m a frequent critic of American Airlines but I was very impressed with their domestic catering earlier this week. I wrote separately about breakfast on a 1500 mile flight. I’m now returning to talk about dinner on the way back.
First class passengers received a hot towel a the start of service on my outbound (breakfast) flight, but not on my return (dinner) flight. Predeparture beverages were also offered on the outbound but not on the return, though in fairness we boarded late.
Pre-dinner service was a ramekin of mixed nuts to accompany drinks. It’s nice to have ‘real’ nuts (not packaged) back. These are popular with customers, though they aren’t an interesting enough mix where I’ll generally eat them.
For dinner there was a choice of a vegetarian pasta dish and chicken piccata. I chose the chicken and it came accompanied by a salad, breaded shrimp appetizer, and choice of bread.
This isn’t a meal I’d have been happy with in a restaurant, but it was better than the median TV dinner. Put another way, it’s not as nice a meal as I generally get in first class on Alaska Airlines but it’s both competitive in the market otherwise and a huge step up from what American has been serving.
The chicken was good, lemon butter sauce good, and potatoes tasty. I do wish American offered a choice of salad dressings, as used to be common in domestic first class years ago. But there was an actual bread plate! Things like that matter.
I’m actually looking forward to trying the bundt cake dessert but this flight was over 1500 miles and we were given ice cream.
It was a small container of Häagen-Dazs chocolate. Single serving size ice cream containers is something I’ve gotten several times on Cathay Pacific, for instance. On the one hand I’d love a true sundae with toppings. On the other hand when American has done sundaes on non-premium domestic flights it’s been pre-made and with lower-quality ice cream than this. Net net I was happy.
Overall I’d rate this meal as marginally an improvement over pre-pandemic American Airlines. It’s not nearly as good as pre-merger American, and I’d pay an upcharge for a better meal. But I’m genuinely thrilled to know that I won’t go hungry on a flight if I don’t have time to eat running to the airport or running between connections.