American Airlines To Start Feeding First Class Passengers On 900+ Mile Flights

It’s not a return of hot meal service, but first class passengers on flights of 900 miles or more will again see something more than a shrink-wrapped turkey and cheese sandwich starting July 14.

Currently premium transcon flights like New York JFK – Los Angeles and San Francisco continue to get hot meals, along with some Miami – Los Angeles and New York JFK – Orange County flights. And non-premium cross country flights longer than Charlotte – Los Angeles get cold ‘Fresh Bites’ boxes instead of wrapped sandwiches.

Plastic-wrapped Turkey Cheese Croissant, Austin – Charlotte (I declined it on the return)

These meal boxes are being expanded to flights of 900 miles or more in first class beginning this month.

American Airlines Internal F&B Document via TheFlyGuy2

American Airlines Internal F&B Document via TheFlyGuy2

American Airlines Internal F&B Document via TheFlyGuy2

I asked American Airlines whether, in addition to flights of 900 miles or more, there would be shorter ‘exception markets’ getting these meals. Some shorter routes have traditionally received received meals, despite their distance, like Chicago O’Hare – Washington National. That’s a competitive route, hub-to-hub, and a business heavy market in normal times. I’m told that the return of Fresh Bites, however, is strictly based on distance and there aren’t any exception markets at this time.

I’ve been frustrated by the lack of meal service, and blaming Covid-19 for the lack of hot meals, as though ovens are a significant vector of virus spread or somehow New York flights are less vulnerable to the virus than those flying to or from other cities. However over the course of the pandemic American Airlines has done more to feed passengers during the pandemic than Delta has.

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 had the Turkey and Swiss “croissant” sandwich yesterday on my morning flight from ORD to SEA. I have no need to repeat that experience. I guess the new boxes will be better, but seem like they are just fluffing up the sad sandwich. AS definitely has a better product on this route.

  2. Looking at the photos, these boxes barely cost $20/each. One has to pay hundreds of dollars more to get one of these boxes, an old First class seat in either 737’s or 320’s family, and the unfriendly services, and cannot even use the lounge because of flying domestic (unless you’re FF of another program). Long comment short – If we are willingly accept the above, why are we complaining AA, DL, or UA? Just personal opinion, for me, I would save the hundreds of dollars difference, use that to get a nicer/bigger room, treat myself to the most delicious dinner, and still have some extra cash.

  3. Can confirm, was in first from BDL to MIA today and got one of these snack boxes… Not quite a hot meal, but it’s better than what many airlines are offering. I switched many of my flights from DL to AA during COVID, and they’ve been trying to improve the experience. I flew DL a few months ago and even drink service was limited in first.

  4. @T – agree

    Long time EP and now Lifetime Platinum w over 3 million miles (retired so don’t travel on business). If I get a complimentary upgrade (under 500 miles) that is certainly fine and I did upgrade a recent MIA-LAX on a 777 to get international business class. However, I typically don’t see the point in upgrading and burning certificates (or buying it unless the price is really good). I will strongly consider upgrading or buying first on flights around 4 hours or longer (I live in CLT and go to LAS, LAX and PHX regularly). However, this is solely for the larger seat and more comfortable ride – not the meal or inflight service. Longtime fan of AA (also lifetime elite on DL but live in a AA hub so fly them almost exclusively) but give me a main cabin extra aisle seat (however complimentary drinks come back to main cabin extra when alcohol service in coach is restored in Sept) and I’m generally happy.

  5. Long time EP. So sick of the Fruit & Cheese plate/ turkey sandwich. Recently was on 2 flts & NO vodka in 1st class.
    Geez! Yet on 4 regional flights we were offered the Snack basket!

  6. Perfect amount of food, since Americans are overweight and have the highest rate of diabetes.

  7. Absolutely disgusting. American Airlines still wants first class fare but delivers less than economy service in first. Typical American Airlines . Parker has stayed way too long to run this airline into the ground transforming it to the new US Airways. Just pathetic.

  8. I just came back from my vacation via AA. Worse flights of my entire life. Flight to NC was delayed 6.5 hours and “dinner” on this flight was 2 crackers and a beverage. 2 CRACKERS! We got to NC at midnight. Got hotel vouchers after waiting in line 90 minutes and slept 1.5 hours before having to come back for our morning connection. At 6 am, breakfast options at the airport were limited and long, long lines. Morning flight to CT they offered NOTHING. NOTHING. Only first class got food and beverage service..even before we got to our seats. We got nothing for our trouble (missed connection, no food, hardly any sleep). When I found my seat I was out of breath so I sat down for a MOMENT and flight attendant bullied me for not IMMEDIATELY stowing my bags. She later tried to gaslight me by loudly proclaiming near others that I had yelled at her (I had witnesses.). I had a sore throat and empty belly. Too tired to yell. Now I finally understand why someone might snap and feel compelled to throw a punch- they were pushed beyond their limit.

  9. The entire air travel experience is akin to herding wild animals. Both the herder and the herded behave as a pen of crazed beasts. I’m glad I’m in my sixties and reaching a point that I won’t have to travel on business much anymore. Almost five million miles on various airlines. Currently UA 1K and top tier on each at one time or another. So I have a substantial body of work from which I make my observations.

  10. Nothing in these boxes looks appetizing. And who wants to eat food out of a box? Prisoners are served meals better than this. And don’t have to eat out of a box. What a disgrace.

  11. Come on AA real plated hot meals are what premium fliers want

    Even BA manages this on very short haul flights

  12. If you want to experience real quality inflight meals use Emirates / Etihad / Qatar / Singapore airlines or Thai International Airways ! The experience expands in to Economy class as well.

  13. I don’t mind cold service but hate coconut milk. Black beans fish and bagels at least one option to account for peoples tastes would be nice. Also American and their ridiculous last minute gate and concourse changes would have do more than food to lure me back to flying with them again

  14. Had the turkey croissant sandwich last Thursday morning on Phoenix to Philly. It was really dry since they forgot to put the mustard in the bag. You would think that wouldn’t be that hard to get that right. One croissant, one slice of turkey, one slice of cheese, a pack of mustard and a bag?

  15. These ‘Boxed Meals’ would be acceptable on a flight designated a Snack Flight (shorter distance/off the meal hour) but most definitely NOT acceptable for Any flight 2.5 hours or longer. Why would anyone Pay for First Class to receive plastic containers in a cardboard box? That presentation is Doug Parker in a Nutshell…..cheapest SOB out there. A cardboard box….laughable. The Clownshow in Fort Worth comes up with some truly ingenious ideas that are Industry Leading. AA has become an absolute embarassment since Parker & His Minions took over the Airline and even the employees will tell You so.

  16. Not even as good as the complimentary meal given to pax traveling by bus in Mexico. 4 hour bus ride on ‘luxury’ bus from Mexico City to San Miguel Allende @ $30- provides a beverage and boxed meal of choice, plus self-serve coffeee/tea at the beverage station in the rear of the bus.

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