More American Meal Changes: Warm Nuts Are Leaving Some Flights, But Warm Cookies Are Safe For Now

Last month I shared American’s new meal service standards which begin September 1.

Basically, as much discussed, US Airways gets a bit more generous with meals and American gets less generous. The two airlines are sort of meeting in the middle.

The first step was more meals on US Airways. That happened back in April.

Now we’re getting cutbacks on the American side, as part of aligning service between the two airlines.

That’s not new information, I encourage you to see the full details on which flights will and will not have food going forward, plus what standards will apply when they do.

Basically flights need to be ~ 1150 miles or 2 hours 45 minutes to warrant a meal, unless it’s an “exception market” like Charlotte or Philadelphia – Minneapolis and Dallas – Detroit.

Some new detail was provided today, however, along with the official announcements of what we’ve already known.

  1. Starting September 1, warm nuts are only for flights with meals. Flights between 1 and 2 hours get a snack basket instead.
  2. Effective October 1, American Eagle flights that are long enough for meals will no longer get ‘real’ meals, offering a “chilled gourmet boxed meal” instead.

No warm nuts on two hour flights!

I’ll live.

In fact, one sigh of relief I’m breathing is for the warm cookies.

We’re preserving signature elements that have set apart American’s meal service, like our popular warm mixed nuts on meal flights, warm cookies and premium desserts.

One rumor had been that warm cookies would be replaced with a chocolate cake square. Today’s announcement suggests that concern was false, although it appears they’ll be limited to flights of 1000 nautical miles (1150 miles) or more unless it’s an exception market.

But – seriously – swapping a cold boxed meal for a plated meal? What is this, the Hilton New York?

Then again, could be worse…

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. Race to the bottom. Notice they are going US Airways style with no more linen on the tray.

    This is a huge deal compared to removing garlic bread from Asia flights.

    Most of all the change in eligible flight times for AA flights.

  2. I adore the warm nuts! No! Also, I much prefer the actual sundaes to silly warm cookies. When was that change made?!?

  3. If you don’t think AA/US is going to go down to the UA level of service, I think you have another thing coming. You are just about 2 years behind. Its unfortunate, but there is no airline that has tried, or at least been able to make hold up, a premium model for service. Its all a race to be another LCC.

  4. 2 thoughts.
    1 Looks like DCA-MIA looses food;
    2. Some Dinner deserts R Cake Squares

    Hubby only likes to fly on cookie flights

  5. 1,000 miles, not 1,150 miles 😉

    I did a macro level comparison and actually the AA cuts are not too bad as there are a few improvements.

    +Flights less than 700 miles will get more snack options
    +Afternoon mid-con flights that had snack service now will have meal service
    +The Fruit and Cheese option for dessert on flights over 2200 miles, which I believe was limited to flights with Flagship dessert
    +Plated cake dessert instead of cookie for longer mid-cons
    +Late night flights [i.e. 9pm MIA-ORD]will have the light bites snack basket over warm nuts and cookie

    Losing plated meal service on Eagle flights sure blow, but as long as they keep glassware and proper mugs, I don’t think it is drastic by any measure. Food was cold and appetizing before, it still will be cold and hopefully appetizing going forward.

    The biggest losers here are the 700-999 miler routes and transcontinental redeyes. I am not too happy that ANC-DFW will no longer receive a meal [flying in paid F in Sept], 3041 miles per great circle mapper and my butt will be in that seat for roughly 7 hours. If one does a cursory search of the loads for ANC-DFW in September, F is almost booked full or sold out most days, which has me thinking AA is making good money on that flight.

  6. I am 99% certain it is going to be based of statue miles not nautical miles.’s flight search engine was updated last week to reflect the new meal windows and flights between 1000-1150 miles all show meal, whereas anything below 999 miles shows snack or refreshments.

    The updated AA inflight meal website would have indicated otherwise if NM was being used.

  7. I detect a fair amount of sarcasm in your post, but I can’t say the same for some of the comments on here. The tone of some of them are such that I wonder if the authors stepped off a tall building shortly after submitting them. I think I’ll survive 2 hours without a cookie, or god forbid, a sundae.

  8. I understand the desire to be fed on long flights at meal times. A 5 hour flight departing at 10am, and I can’t reasonably be expected to eat my lunch before boarding.

    But I’m an adult and if I have a 2 hour, 900 mile flight at 1pm, I’m going to make sure I feed myself before getting on a plane–just the same as I would do if I had a 2 hour meeting at 1pm. I do it every other day, so I don’t see why this responsibility falls to somebody else when I happen to be flying.

    If there’s 2 flights leaving at the same time to the same destination and on the same class of aircraft (RJ, mainline jet, wide body jet), I may base my decision based upon things like meal, glassware, dessert, etc, but those area all way behind comfort, entertainment, wifi, the way employees treat customers, IRROPS handling, value of mileage program, etc, etc.

  9. It’s a snack basket. And it’s an **enhanced** snack basket. It’s a bistro gag.

    Thanks. I too got the AA email. Hilarious.

  10. I did a dummy booking for plenty of 1000-1150mi flights, and flights that fell under 1150mi but over 1000mi, such as DFW-LAS (at 1055mi) still get meals.

    Also, both the AA and US websites clearly specify 1000mi, not nautical miles.

  11. AndrewG, you’d better watch you don’t get your AA account fined or closed for those dummy bookings 🙂

    How much did the warmed nuts cost, 25 cents? Not a good sign for the future.

  12. CW I agree with you. Considering the other exception flights, the DCA-MIA market should also be an exception route. That route is not the same as DCA-FLL, the flights to Miami have many more international connections and premium customers who expect more in first class.

  13. “Chilled gourmet boxed meal” = sushi bento box on Eagle flights?

    One can dream, right? 😉

  14. Just a heads up, but all data are indeed pointing to statue miles not nautical miles despite certain communications from AA claiming nautical miles.

    People are reporting they are being offered to select meals on flights like ORD-MCO which is only 1,005 statue miles and flights under 999 statue miles are no longer showing entree choices. PIT-DFW which is 1,067 is still offering meals post 9/1.

    It is pretty much a sure thing now that statue miles are being used to determine which flight will get a meal and what level of service [i.e. 1000-1298 miles will receive cookie while 1299-2199 will receive cake and so forth] not nautical miles.

    Definitely a big relief as a lot of ex-DFW/MIA/ORD flights are within 1,000-1,150 miles.

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