American Airlines Testing New Meal Service In Business Class

With a new business class product – suites with doors – and more business class seats beginning to roll out at American Airlines next year, the airline is working on new meals, business class bedding, and amenity kits. They’re leaning on partner airlines like British Airways to understand how service flow works with more premium customers. And they’re testing a variety of products.

At the start of February, aviation watchdog JonNYC reported that long haul fights out of Dallas are currently being used to test some new meal elements in business class. Specifically, flights to Europe (Paris, Frankfurt, Madrid and London Heathrow) and South America (Buenos Aires, Sao Paulo, and Santiago) get a test of “a dual beverage accompaniment concept similar to what is currently offered in first class, and a new warm dessert option to replace the cold dessert.”

American appears to also be testing olives alongside warm nuts:

These tests may seem minor, but they are improvements not tests of things they might take away. Serving a bowl of olives is also hugely symbolic. The story of legendary American Airlines CEO removing one olive from first class salads to save $40,000 per year didn’t just loom large at the airline, but in corporate boardrooms across America. Providing passengers with olives is, therefore, an indulgent experience.

The airline’s current meal service has been better than Delta’s and United’s, though not without fault. It’s been surprising to see, and it’s encouraging to see them test improvements to long haul business class service.

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. Gary, that looks nice and all, and I get that you’re an AA fan, but I still very much prefer United’s meal service. Seeing as I’m trying to lose weight.

  2. AA’s Flagship meal service is so much better than the more expensive Delta One. I don’t understand why Delta gets all the hype.

  3. “They’re leaning on partner airlines like British Airways to understand how service flow works with more premium customers.”

    Like Spanish owned British Airways has any clue.

    How about asking Cathay and JAL????

  4. Good to see AA finally “upping their game”. I don’t fly much to Europe, but I fly very regularly to Asia. And the Asian carriers (and the middle Eastern carriers) have “smoked” AA (e.g., their DFW to Tokyo Narita service is still pretty pitiful). I hope that AA can improve seats and meal service to be closer to the airlines like Qatar, ANA, EVA, and Singapore. Big shoes to fill, I suppose, but it sounds like AA is really going to try to provide a higher quality product. And that is good news (I am a 6-million mile flyer, and Executive Platinum for 20+ years, but I’ve mostly given up on AA). I will need to give them a try again !!

  5. I hate olives, but I used to hate mushrooms, so maybe I need to try it again?

    There was a time, right before the merger with USAirways, that on transatlantic flights, you could indeed get your fillet mignon medium rare because they finished it in the actual onboard oven.

    I miss those times.

    Now, the return flight back is still very good, and I love, love the ice cream sundae bar, especially paired with a merlot. Wish there was more peanut butter, lol.


  6. American Airlines’ existing premium catering, while not mouthwatering for sure, is far better than anything plated on Delta or United. United’s catering in Polaris is atrocious. It all looks like it was prepared in a diner an then reheated. Delta is all smoke and mirrors, with the fancy platings and the collaborations with local restaurants.

    I’d much rather have American up the service ethos in the Business Class cabin with a bit more polish and a standard of service followed by all the crew, over adding an olive, which in 1986, was famously removed from a salad to save millions.

  7. I fly business class for the lie-flat seat or extra legroom. I never eat the food, regardless of how fancy the airline thinks it is. I bring a couple of protein bars and those will keep me going for the duration of the flight, regardless how long-haul it may be. When I land, I go have a nice meal at a real restaurant.

  8. Those that make comparisons between AA and DL and/or UA would do well to remember that all US airlines cut service during the pandemic including premium cabin meals. All are adding it back so a simple present day comparison is not going to be accurate.
    It would be worth seeing what everyone has by June 1 and then again at the beginning of winter.
    US carriers are still better positioned financially to compete with global airlines due to the much stronger US domestic market than any other part of the world. AA, DL and UA might ALL look better that what they have been compared to foreign airlines than they have in a really long time.

  9. I think olives and nuts is the dual beverage accompaniment they are testing. They are not in addition to the test. Nice to see, would be great if a third course – soup – could be added to the westbound day flights.

  10. @Bob Spoons >Gary, that looks nice and all, and I get that you’re an AA fan
    Well, he really wasn’t then they made him Key. Problem solved 🙂 God luv ya Gary, make the most of it. I seriously don’t begrudge him. Yes, I’m Key too.

    That said, AA’s Business Class needs a major uplift. The current seats on the 777-200s (which is what I fly) are old, cramped and worn out. Old and worn out pretty much sums up the food and the service too IMHO. That’s coming from someone who sticks up for AA most of the time too. I did it before I was Key too, but honestly, the AA Business Class is seriously sub-par.

    What bothers me is, they’re reported to be asking BA for help on this. Were it not for PIA, BA would qualify as the World’s worst airline.

  11. AA food is equal or better then DL already (UA is just slop) so this is exciting to see (Plus I love olives and my wife hates them so more for me). Not expected to do any international flying this year but who knows. Hope this filters over to domestic FC and buy on board when it returns.

  12. Olives are nice but a lay-flat seat in 1st & Business in AA’s Hawaii flights would be more appreciated! Yes, I know Hawaii is AA’s stepchild, but give me a break! And the 1st & Business Hawaii seats barely recline and are often broken… just how old are those planes they send to Oahu anyway. forget the olives (which I love) and give me a lay-flat seat on those 6-7 hour flights please! AA, you haven shame; we know you don’t like us!

  13. Olives? What about standard comforts? Our last first class flight from Honolulu to Dallas had no blankets or pillows! The flight attendant actually offered us her personal blanket, which we of course declined, saying they had zero blankets on board.

  14. 1KBrad says:
    February 12, 2023 at 7:54 am
    “They’re leaning on partner airlines like British Airways to understand how service flow works with more premium customers.”

    Like Spanish owned British Airways has any clue.

    How about asking Cathay and JAL????

    -Well put 1KBrad!

  15. Flying American round-trip from Charlotte to Dublin in June in business class. What kind of food service can we reasonably expect as far as quality & content goes?

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