American Airlines Testing Tapas As a First Class Meal

During last week’s American Airlines management meeting with employees, a pilot asked about the abysmal state of crew meals, complaining about the cheese plate.

They were told,

For all of our careers the crew meal has been a reflection of what’s going on in the first class cabin and actually it still is. And for the safety of the flight attendants they’re serving the same thing that we get, whether it’s the cheese plate, the sandwich, the yogurt they’re serving that in first class as well.

I did talk to our crew, to the meal folks, and they said that in Charlotte they’re starting a test…they’re rolling out a tapas selection of some sort. They hope to expand that across the system. Right now, we look at it all the time, and we’re doing the very best we can but it really is a reflection of what’s happening in first class.

Pre-pandemic American Had A Domestic First Class Charcuterie Plate

I take tapas to be along the lines of then- Senior Vice President of Inflight Jill Surdek declaring to employees in August that we wouldn’t see a return of first class meals as they used to be, instead to expect “something that still has a premium feel but is different and more modern.”

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 »

More articles by Gary Leff »



  1. Aren’t tapas or its equivelant what Jet Blue serves in Mint? I haven’t flown Mint but friends who have all report favorably on the meals. I guess it’s not what you call it that counts but how it tastes and whether there’s enough of it.

  2. The problem appears to be that AA mgmt doesn’t understand what the word ‘tapas’ means, which doesn’t surprise me in the least.

  3. The problem will be you need good quality ingredients to have good tapas, and good quality ingredients cost money, which is where the wheels will fall off the wagon

  4. I don’t know……think it will cause corona? Better run this by the flight attendants unions just to make sure its safe!

  5. I flew from YYZ to PDX via CLT yesterday on the neo 321 in 4D and the experience was AWFUL. The tapas “protein” box consisted to two slices of salami while the “tapas” vegetarian consisted of couscous. “First” is a complete JOKE. It’s not even glorified coach. I’m grateful my AA EP was comped by my Hyatt ambassador because I just can’t. I’ll take Jetblue from now cause I know I’m in regular coach.

  6. I used to joke about eating tapas. People thought I said, “topless.” My purposefully mispronounciation has come full circle, I guess. It’s like a truck stop stripper bar in Texarkana. Promises of glitter with the reality being far from.

  7. That Zoe’s Charcuterie Plate shown in the picture was consistently better than anything else AA was serving on standard domestic flights pre pandemic. Not sure what the issue is here…

  8. I understand shaving excess costs in coach, but why compromise first for people who actually want to pay for it? Is there just not enough competition? As an EXP I often found myself deliberately choosing some extended legroom seats in coach in planes with big exit rows because they’re more comfortable than first.

    Are there people who will just always pay for first no matter what so it doesn’t matter how junky it is?

  9. Actually the plate from the picture looks awesome to me. So if they serve something similar I’d be quite happy.

  10. This would work fine for a snack on a 2 hour flight but as first class meal on something longer it just comes across as being cheap.

  11. Tapa in Spanish means cover. A tapa — often a piece of cheese or ham — would be placed on top of your glass.

    Today you typically order one at a time.

    It never meant placing non-matching foods brought to your table at the same time.

    The idea of cutting portions in four and cutting prices in half originated outside Spain when people figured that it was a quick way to double profit.

  12. As much as I like the Zoe’s charcuterie plate, after having my gallbladder out, that tapas meal would induce very bad ju-ju. LOL

  13. The catering is abysmal and inappropriate for a premium cabin. If they want to see what short / midhaul catering should look like take a look at their partner British Airways which has resumed hot meals.

  14. I sure hope they serve very strong mints to keep everyone from reeking of garlic from that hummous.

  15. I just served the new (PM vs AM) Protein box and the Vegetarian box which would be served after 9:45 am. I wrote up quite a lengthy review on it. Protein: Salami, salad, fresh fruit, hummus and crudités, brownie. Vegetarian one same but instead of salami was Couscous. The boxes I was catered with had no hummus which one of my pax pointed out. The box is a nice change to the same ol’ Turkey Havarti Sandwich or Chz. cracker tray but at least the TH & CCT filled you up. It is a snack but is not a meal, especially on a 5 hour flight. Paxs quickly asked for the follow on snack basket as they were still hungry. I would not like to see this implimented.

  16. Some of these comments.. Really? Why would they want to sacrifice people who wants to pay for first class? Hardly anybody is paying domestic first class. The cabin is full of frequent flyer complimentary upgrades and empty seats filled with airline personnel.
    Someone else said that even British had brought back hot meals. AA has never stopped hot meals on longhaul flights. The only modification was that service was done on a single tray, and drinks on plastic wear.
    These plates are for domestic first class, which again, nobody is paying for.
    Airlines are bleeining millions a day. I wouldn’t be surprised if us airlines decide to go intra-Europe style for domestic first class / short haul. Maybe with a few trasncons expetions.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *