American Airlines Says Their Boxed Lunches Represent The “Return To Pre-Covid Meal Service”

American Airlines has introduced boxed (cold) meals to flights over 900 miles. In an employee meeting last week, Jodi Spicer (Managing Director of Onboard Dining), argued that this is a return to pre-Covid meal service.

Today we launched the expansion of our Fresh Bites box that we showcased a couple of months ago to all flights over 900 miles. And that returns us as an airline back to where we were for our meal offerings. So on those flights where we offered meals pre-Covid, and that was 900 miles as well. So we have returned ourselves, so a big milestone for us and our customers.

However there’s still no hot food on most routes. That means less work for flight attendants, and likely lower prices for American Airlines. To be clear there is no world in which this is a return to pre-Covid service. Nonetheless, it’s better than the plastic-wrapped turkey cheese croissant.

While first class passenger and pilot offerings usually sync up, pilots may receive a meal on flights under 900 miles. On those they won’t get Fresh Bites, but an American Airlines spokesperson tells me, “they’ll get a sandwich and fresh fruit and some shelf stable snacks.”

A year ago American planned for cheaper catering when service returned in the form of something ‘more modern’ that ‘still has a premium feel. We’ll see what comes next.

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. I’d love to see these ‘meals’ served at AA Board meetings and offered in their corporate cafeteria as the only food options.

  2. I was offered the 1 cookie biscoff pack yesterday on my AA flight. Apparently the 2 cookie pack was too much of a budget buster. I’m tired of airlines using COVID as an excuse to cut services to the bone.

  3. Jodi Spicer, you are a joke if you think that is a return to pre-covid meal service. Someone needs to be replaced.

  4. I don’t know how AA thinks they can compete for customers willing to purchase first class. I know food isn’t the primary driver of a customers choice to fly, but this is an inferior offering. When DL and UA are offering hot meal service, I guess you’d only choose AA if the ticket price was lower or if AA had a non-stop flight versus competitors. I would think all airlines want to compete aggressively for revenue post covid.

  5. I’m actually a huge fan of these boxes. I find the quality and freshness significantly better than the previous slop.

  6. Flew Turkish and Lufthansa, full normal and beautiful meals pre covid and beautiful. Sad US carriers

  7. Does AA appreciate the irony in the word, “bites.” As in, “this bites?”
    I am cautiously optimistic that passengers will revolt.

    I also think that there are flight attendants who really DO want to provide quality service on board, and won’t just snap back with “primarily here for your safety.” I’ve known enough flight attendants who enjoy serving sundaes and cookies, making people happy. Also, people with sundaes in their mouths are less likely to threaten you, hate you, attack you , get into mask wars, etc.

    We now know that COVID isn’t transmissible by cans of soda, galley ovens, glassware, smiling… so the excuse is gone. Time’s up for American to admit that they made a poor choice, and they’ll work on fixing it.

    This is going to take a while because they plan food menus up to a year in advance. But I a have some hope that American will match United and Delta. The same will eventually happen with seatback entertainment.

    Otherwise–to paraphrase Gordon Bethune–they’ve taken away all of the toppings from the pizza, and they have nothing left to offer.

    It’s a shame. But maybe this will go the way of “buy your own water” at US Airways or “no food on Dulles-Europe flights” in United Business.

    The best step American can take right now is to say, “We are constantly re-evaluating our inflight product, and we take feedback from our customers and flight attendants seriously.” It’s a bit of PR fluff, but it sound a lot better than, “Get used to cardboard boxes and no television, or just go to United or Delta. We don’t care about you and we don’t care about our employees. Go away.”

  8. The Skyview gang might as well rebrand AA F to the Big Front Seat. There is nothing “premium” about their domestic product. Watching FAs try to cram the remains of these boxes into their galley trash bags is bonus sadness.

  9. “Oh yeah? So who else are you gonna fly from Tulsa to LA on a Tuesday afternoon?….haha you’re all still with us….suckers!” ~excerpt from AA board meeting

  10. I don’t mind this as it is healthy and looks a lot better than some of the greasy and fattening hot sandwiches other airlines have offered in the past, but don’t act like its a return to pre-COVID, AA. Just don’t. First class travelers aren’t dumb. Stop acting like they are.

  11. Flew MIA-LAS this past Sunday and one of the box choices was an egg salad sandwich, fruit and a cup of oatmeal. EGG SALAD?????? At least dUgie hasn’t eliminated my beloved Woodford Reserve.

  12. Please get rid of those cheese cubes!!! They have been around for 10 years!! Change it up American. ugh

  13. Another example of a terrible customer service decision! AA is truly a most pathetic airline! Definitely a LLCC! Ms. Judi Spicer and her ilk need replacement. However, I’m not hopeful! Too much doublespeak by AA management and its minions! I continue to evade AA.

  14. When I read this news about American Airlines expanding their first-class Fresh Bites meal concepts using cycles 1 through 4, their new and improved airline food menu reminded me of the premium dog food sold as Cycle 1 through 4. Mmmmmm. American Airlines dog food for passengers.

    View the cycle 1 through 4 dog food commercial:

  15. How about international flights…
    We are flying to germany in December and we need to know if we should pack food as I’m a borderline diabetic

  16. @ Gary — I remember 10 years ago when even ATL-DFW had full F meal service in the middle of the afternoon. The FAs had to bust their tails to complete it. Now, what a joke.

  17. Is the breakdown of other carrier’s offerings coming? Nvmd. You don’t have any “source” at other airlines that will let you view their meetings. I’m sorry, you don’t review the recordings, View From The Wing does. Perfectly fair game to criticize AA, however, you never provide any context. Instead you go for low hanging fruit that you know will inflame your readers and get clicks/comments. Honestly, this has devolved into bash AA, pitch CC for miles on airlines that you roast for not allowing award purchases, and trashy videos of fights. When does the “Thought leader in travel” part of the site get developed?

  18. I’ve taken four round trip transcon BOS-SAN JetBlue Mint flights in the past six months. Paid F for work.

    I’ve had eggs, pancakes, bacon, steak, chicken, spaghetti, ice cream, and a dozen or so other things that would rival any restaurant on the ground. Hands down.

    I walked off one flight two months ago and while walking through the terminal to my car was thinking “Damn that was good!”

    I feel like flying them tonight just for dinner.

    Now that I can earn EQM and EQD on these flights, I will NEVER EVER set foot on AA metal for transcon flights again. I will literally go out of my way schedule wise and price wise for JetBlue’s Mint product wherever it is flown.

    Anyone who has taken one of these flights knows exactly what I am talking about.

  19. I have something to say that has nothing to do with food on AA. I really think that the order of boarding the plane should change. That group 1 to 9 is not correct. And then to say that my last flight I was on the one out of 4 flight attendants was rude to another passengers. And yes I told AA about it.

  20. Just had the displeasure of being served AA’s latest garbage food gambit on 2 flights. You’ve got to give these grifters credit, they continually perfect the art of abusing their elite first class flyers while running the airline into the ground. They are truly the worst airline in the States.

  21. Nuts to food boxes. Don’t plan on me buying F any time soon. Carnival service deserves cut rate fares.

  22. Hi Jodi Spicer,

    You know absolutely nothing about what First Class Passengers really want.

    NO ONE who actual buys a AA First Class ticket these days, wants these scraps in a plastic box!

    These horrible boxed Lunches DO NOT Represent The “Return To Pre-Covid Meal Service”

    You’re just following the corporate talking points of the incompetent US Airways corporate management team, who unfortunately were allowed to TAKE OVER AA.

    The last pre COVID-19 flight that I took was late in March 2020, when I was able to pre-order an actual hot meal in first class, which was far superior than this garbage.

    The lazy F/A unions and Doug Parker have destroyed AA. Wake Up!

    Listen to your paying first class customers, stop following UA and DL…Be a leader and not a follower!

    As a former AA employee and shareholder, am appalled at how AA has been destroyed since the “takeover” in 2013 by the totally incompetent management team of US Airways and Doug Parker!.

    AA Board Members…………………..wake up and make changes to this once great airline!

    Thank you.

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