With load factors in the 20s, it makes sense for passengers to spread out and social distance from each other on the plan. And where possible it makes sense to limit interaction between flight attendants and passengers right now, too.
JonNYC reports on changes to American Airlines food and beverage service going into effect this Friday, March 27. They aren’t offering anything for sale in coach, to limit credit card swipes. They won’t service meals in first class except on routes long enough where they figure they have to. And there’s more to it than that.
I actually don't know if this was emailed out or internal, etc., but, FWIW: pic.twitter.com/LXr8j6WPrO
— JonNYC (@xJonNYC) March 24, 2020
Flights Under 2200 Miles
American is scaling down interactions, which are most frequently around food and beverage. This make sense. Southwest has suspended all service (except canned water on request) on all flights including mainland – Hawaii. American is still offering more than that.
- No food in first class
- No food for sale in coach
- Beverages will be on request only. The full complement will still be offered in first class, while no alcohol will be offered in coach.
I understand why nothing is being offered for sale in coach, and that includes alcohol. However alcohol had been free for Main Cabin Extra passengers. Removing that, but still serving drinks, doesn’t seem to alter flight attendant interaction – just save cash (which is understandable in itself right now).
Perhaps the thinking there is,
- If they have it on board coach passengers will want it
- Alcohol is more likely to be requested than other beverages so increases flight attendant interaction (or is more likely to be asked to be refilled)
Flights like Charlotte – Los Angeles will no longer have meals up front. Customers be advised to bring their own. This is a huge cut in catering expense, and a blow to caterers, who can expect to lay off staff as this continues.
Flights 2200 Miles Or Longer
It’s harder to cut out service entirely on longer distance flights. Beverage service will remain ‘on request’ rather than proactice. In addition,
- Premium cabins get single tray meal service, covered or wrapped and the customer will unwrap themselves
- No snacks or food for purchase in coach, except that the airline’s remaining long haul flights such as Tokyo and London will still receive a meal
- No alcohol in coach (or Main Cabin Extra), except on the airline’s remaining long haul flights
Meal Service Going Forward
Changes are ostensibly going to last until April 30, but this may change. While this is being described as a ‘suspension’ I don’t actually expect a “snap back” to old standards once the things ‘normalize’.
Initially customers are going to be concerned about flying, even when it’s considered more advisable to do so. People will want to social distance. Some of the cutbacks, like beverages on request and packaged meals, may continue to make sense.
Passenger demand isn’t going to flip back on light a light switch. Bookings will be light initially. In a likely money-losing environment, at least initially, airlines will work to keep costs as low as possible.
Food and beverage is being limited currently in American’s lounges. That’ll probably loosen somewhat as conditions normalize. After all, Mastercard was paying fro the guacamole and perhaps that continues. However the state of play many of us have gotten used to is a level of investment which has gradually increased over the last 10 years. We’re turning back the clock a decade on the industry even when flying returns.