American Eliminating Full Beverage Service on Short Flights Effective June 1

The Forward Cabin shares an internal memo that American will be ending full beverage service on several flights under 250 miles.

This is being pitched to crew as saving them from having to do work that made them ‘uncomfortable’ and of course is also a cost saver. Fares will not go down as a result, of course.

There will be no more full beverage cart service for Dallas to Austin, Houston, Oklahoma City, San Antonio, Tulsa, as well as New York JFK – Boston and Washington National, and Los Angeles – Las Vegas.

If you’re sitting in first class a flight attendant will toss you a small bottle of water, or give you a cup of juice. There is a ‘small cart’ which will offer normal drinks in some quantity, though that will stay in the galley and allow flight attendants to respond to requests (in my experience, at their discretion, we’ll see how many acknowledge its existence).

Of course given the more limited provisioning it’s almost as if they expect that flight attendants won’t offer predeparture beverages. American has made clear that customer service takes a back seat to D0 departures. And flight attendants shared very clearly on this blog how they feel about offering predeparture beverages.

Jaime says that New York LaGuardia-Boston-Washington National flights will be exempt from this catering cutback.

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. If you are going to basically talk at least give accurate facts. 1st class will ALWAYS have a full beverage service, even if the flight was 10seconds, so STOP misleading people. Also, in main cabin passengers will have water and/or OJ which are the 2 most hydrating options on an airplane. For the ppl comparing AA to Intl carriers, unfortunately we live in a democracy and have rights and a voice. Safety is always the #1 priority and rolling a cart that weighs a TON up the aisle on a 30min flight is not only unsafe, but it also tarnishes customer service because flight attendants are rushing to get the service done and irritated with passengers that want to take 5 mins to order a water. A lot of you are grown ups and if not getting a can of coke on a 30min flight (a can that you most likely won’t finish) is the deciding factor for you then you should A. Take your own B. Fly on Spirit or whomever or C. Act like the grown up that your birth certificate says that you are, and consider all the valid and sensible reasons that this makes sense and also stop thinking ONLY about yourself and think about the people that are there PRIMARILY for your SAFETY.

  2. First class will ALWAYS get a full beverage service. The change is coming to main cabin. These legs that are getting the changes are all legs that are 40 minutes or less in total. Account for about 15 minutes of asscention, plus another 15 for descent (this is being generous with minutes), that leaves 2 or 3 flight attendants almost ZERO time to serve 140-170 passengers. Want to give it a try? It’s impossible. This is a change that’s coming after it finally got noticed that often times less than HALF of main cabin was getting a drink at all because of the short time in the air. By limiting the options and doing a simple, quick service on a very quick flight, we ensure that EVERYONE gets served. It has nothing to do with budget.
    As far as being “uncomfortable” goes, the only way we have the potentional to possibly get through the whol service, is if we pull the heavy cart out in the aisle while the plane is still ascending at a steep angle. It’s not safe.

    It has never made sense to have a full beverage service on a flight that’s in the air less than an hour. It’s just not feasible. Again, this change is not effecting first class where there’s 12 people. It’s effecting main cabin where the passenger to FA ratio is at least 65 to 1. Can you take and fulfill drink orders to 65 people in 15 minutes????

  3. If youre that thirsty bring your own drink for a 45 flight. You wont die without your vodka.

  4. Honestly are you serious? I cannot believe that this is what concerns you. I am not sure what your job entails, but if a lack of beverage on a 40 minute flights has you so triggered perhaps you should find a safe place.

  5. For folks who talk about ‘lack of a beverage for 40 minutes’ realize that folks
    * may be coming off another flight where they didn’t get a beverage
    * had a quick connection and no time to stop for one
    * boarded 30 minutes before the flight that had no beverage for an hour inclusive of taxi, takeoff, landing time

    When there are airlines that serve full meals in similar time.

    If you think that offering a beverage is absurd on such a flight is absurd you’re saying something about your airline and what the mediocrity it’s consigned to.

  6. There is no such flight where you “didn’t get a beverage.” Any flight with 30 minutes of flight time or more requires a beverage service, be that a full service or a water & juice service. There will always be something available. The fact that you didn’t know this but claim to have enough travel experience to be writing an aviation blog is concerning.

  7. Are you serious? All of your reasons for doing a full beverage service on a 30 min flight are a stretch.
    And in any case there will still be a water and juice service in main cabin for those passengers that you mentioned.
    Also, please post which airlines do a full meal service on a 30 min flight. I’d love to fly them and try to get served a FULL meal, have time to eat It and then have them come back to pick it up!!! Not happening. But nice try.

  8. The flight crews don’t mind at all serving drinks on short hauls . I have been flying for American for 27 years . However what happens is the passengers think they are the only ones on board! They order a juice with no ice , coffee ( ask them what they take in it) water and they would also like 3 drinks for their travel companion who’s sleeping! We manage to serve half the cabin only to rush back and pick up full cups . Is that really worth it? Where’s the glamour in that ?

  9. Not being able to provide a beverage on a short hop just galls me. All thise who have weighed in that is is unsafe, selfish of the passenger, etc as reasons for not serving beverages is just crass. Reading the comments demanding customers behave like adults and settle for poorer service in the name of safety is pure unadulterated bs. Having flown more short flights abroad where it is not a problem to serve passengers during 45 minute flight a simple beverage lets me know first hand exactly how Much short flights in America has sunken to new lows. Usually, our beverage service on short haul flights abroad also includes a snack! If you feel overworked and that your job is dangerous may I suggest getting a new job where you’ll be happier, preferably doing something you love. Pricing and flights in America suck comparatively and when you consider that as long as saving money was not the deciding factor, airlines had no problems dispensing beverages and snacks on short haul flights in the past. As more and more Americans become aware of just how much we’re being shortchanged, policies will change.
    Gary Leff keep writing your blog. Don’t be cowered by nasty bullies.

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