American’s Catering Problems at LAX Continue

I flew home to Austin from Los Angeles on Wednesday night. I had the chance to visit the new Flagship lounge there, so I had a preflight bite to eat and wasn’t hungry. I prefer to work or watch shows uninterrupted on my flights anyway, so I figured I’d be skipping dinner.

The flight was delayed while we waited for pilots who were on a delayed flight inbound from Las Vegas. An already late aircraft sat on the ground in Las Vegas for about an hour before making its way to LAX. And once you land at LAX it can take awhile to taxi to your gate. My 6:35 p.m. flight was wheels up at 8:45 p.m.

To be clear I didn’t want dinner. But I was still surprised to be offered a choice of a turkey wrap in a brown cardboard box, or a turkey wrap in a brown cardboard box.

American Airlines Terminal 4 LAX

Nearly two months ago American stopped using Gate Gourmet for catering at LAX when listeria was found at their facility.

Initially there was very little food out of LAX for most flights (though a handful of long haul international — London, Shanghai, Sao Paulo, and Beijing — already had a different caterer, Air Fayre). LSG SkyChefs was added to the mix to cater more flights with a focus on long haul, New York JFK, Miami, and Hawaii service first. Customers on flights without the expected catering were getting proactive apology emails and vouchers towards future travel.

  • Domestic non-transcon flights are still be double catered on the inbound aircraft. So a flight coming in from Dallas will have meals for Dallas – Los Angeles, and for its onward segment departing Los Angeles.

  • Domestic flights in the early morning starting their day at LAX though don’t get double provisioned the night before. Those get coach buy onboard meals in first class. That covers about 16 flights a day. And those customers are the ones American is still reaching out to with apology and voucher.

Notably Gate Gourmet, while not providing food, does still service American Airlines aircraft in Los Angeles. They take out the trash and may be boarding beverage carts.

Both Flying Food Group and Gate Gourmet Servicing an Aircraft at the Same Time on Wednesday

It turns out my flight was just a mis-cater, it didn’t receive its double catering on the way in, and that’s why they didn’t provide advance notice with a voucher yet offered the buy onboard wrap as our meal option.

American expects to return to normal catering in early January.

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. My LAX-YYZ flight last week didn’t have catering and they told me when I got on the plane. Fortunately, I always carry snacks but if they had informed me I would’ve grabbed something tastier.

  2. Was uncerimoniously handed one of those sad sandwiches in a cardboard box on an AA flight from RIC to DFW the day after Thanksgiving. The bread was so soggy and lettuce so wilted, it was not at all edible. No tray, no napkin, no condiments. Nothing. A very sad lack of presentation indeed. I know it was only a 3.5 hour flight on a 7-3, but it was a mid-day lunch flight and I expected just a tad more effort in First.

  3. Compare to UA who has done no proactive reaching out about DEN issues whatsoever, and is still advertising normal premium cabin meals…shame.

  4. “And once you land at LAX it can take awhile to taxi to your gate”

    Ah Gary, it’s almost Christmas and you are demonstrating the Christmas spirit by graciously saying “awhile” instead of “forever”

  5. Sad – just flew LAX-JFK in transcon 1st and was offered a $100 voucher for the disgusting offering – an unedible – not even sure what it was. On our return flit from JFK-LAX, they had changed the dining options so what we had pre-selected wasn’t available and no menu on board. Pretty skimpy food options available – and this is supposed to be their premiere flight experience. At least we had outstanding f/a’s. Glad they’ve opened the Flagship First dining as we’ll be taking the transcon again next week and since I can’t pre-select a meal, it’s pretty clear that they haven’t gotten their act together – Delta, here we come….

  6. Thanks for the update. I’m pondering which flight to take out of LAX, and AA isn’t stacking up well. It’s one thing in economy, but in international business class, I really do want good catering!

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