American’s Great New Meal Choices, Never Have Another Bad Meal Onboard Again?

Three weeks ago I shared the secret to getting a good meal on American Airlines.

  • American lets you pre-select your meal choice up to 24 hours prior to flight. That’s one reason it’s nice for an upgrade to clear before the gate.

  • Earlier this year they re-introduced ‘special meal’ options to domestic first class.

Lucky from One Mile at a Time really likes American’s Asian Vegetarian meals. I wrote that I ordered the kosher meal during Passover and it was fantastic.

And now I’m on a quest to try their different special meal options. I knew that I wouldn’t get the same food after Passover — no matzo, for instance, and there wasn’t gefilte fish on my latest flight. But I wanted to order the kosher meal again to see how it would be outside of the Passover period and from a different departure city. My first great meal was from LAX, I ordered it this time from Dallas Fort-Worth.

It comes packaged, though our flight attendant did offer to unwrap it for me. I should have taken her up on it because the amount of packaging could have supplied for a year.

The chicken was flavorful, spicy even, and the smoked whitefish was tasty. The pineapple upside down cake dessert was excellent. And by the way if you aren’t completely stuffed from the feast you can still have the regular onboard dessert (cookies) too. I passed.

I previously wrote that I’d be reluctant to order the Muslim meal. The government has access to full PNR data, even though American isn’t specifically pushing out meal choices to the government. I figured with profiling I might lose PreCheck.

Despite that warning my wife ordered the Muslim meal, and she let me try a few bites. It was excellent.

The chicken was the spiciest food I’ve had on a US airline in a very long time, but it wasn’t just heat it was a complex heat. The dessert was a butterscotch tart which was delicious.

American has to be spending more on their special meals than on their regular meals, which I suppose makes sense because of the much lower volume. I’m not sure the thinking behind bringing back these options, but I am neither kosher nor Muslim but I’m glad to have the choice.

Lucky writes that once the Asian Vegetarian option did fail him. But I’m going to stick with this strategy as long as it works. Which one should I try next?

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. Thanks for this great post! This is my ultimate travel goal for 2018 to go to the US! I personally started traveling around two years ago and have been to several different countries including Egypt, Turkey and Spain. But sometimes I find that many flights are way too expensive, the one thing that helps get flights at really affordable prices is with Travel Hacking. I’m sure this will provide a lot of value to anyone who travels! Feel free to check it out here:

  2. Odd that the meal conforming to Jewish dietary laws is “kosher” but the halal meal is referred to as “Muslim”. Presumably it contains no actual Muslims.

    While not relevant to this discussion about meals in domestic flights, many airlines serve the special meals at the very beginning of service. On overnight flights this can mean getting fed a half-hour or more earlier.

  3. Also, on the subject of being profiled based on your meal, Robert Klein had a funny bit about ordering the kosher meal on Lufthansa (“Paging the JEW who ordered the kosher meal. Will the JEW who ordered the kosher meal please identify themself.”)

  4. How long until AA realizes their special meals are *too* good, and intentionally makes them as crappy as the main meals?

  5. I have been taking advantage of the domestic GF meals and they are great – so much food!

    One thing that’s weird though…I can get them on my Dca-Dfw flights but not on my dfw-boi dinner flights. I know other ex-dfw flights offer gf meals, so I’m curious why I can’t on the Boise flights.

  6. Had the Hindu meal DCA-LAX a few weeks ago. Quite good spicy curry. Would do again in a heartbeat.

  7. This is so depressing. I say that as someone who eats only kosher and has had his fill of wrapped kosher airline food. I honestly can’t believe this is the good food. How sad.

  8. Dios Mio! We’ve actually gotten to the point where one has to fear ordering a special meal bc it includes the word “Muslim”?

    As FDR famously said:

    “The only thing to fear, is fear itself…”

    Please wake me when this nightmare is over 🙁

    PS: Gary, I trust you know this is **not** directed at you! I understand *perfectly* where you’re coming from… 😉

    It’s the overall insanity from so much paranoia, scapegoating and overall irrational “thinking” poisoning our country right now…

    I mean, seriously, when we begin fearing using one word, in this case, “Muslim”, bc it could result in “profiling” by law enforcement for a freakin’ meal, what’s next?

    Do people remember the insanity when the Cincinnati Reds had to change the team’s name to “Redlegs” and remove the team’s logos from their uniforms to avoid any stigma of being perceived as having Communist sympathies during our country’s last collective bout of mental illness better known as the “Red Scare” (which, btw shares a common denomonator with darkness emanating from despicably poisoned mind of Roy Cohn and a flim-flam politician from Wisconsin with our country’s current bout of collective mental illness since you-know-who seems to be channelling the ghost of Roy Cohn horrifyingly well plus, of course, the soon to be gone Speaker Ryan whose about as dirty and corrupt as they come…hello…$500,000 payoff from Koch Bros. right after passing their budget busting, deficit exploding, “Even More Welfare for Billionaires Act” late last year…)


    Hard to believe we could be that bat-crap crazy, but yep, that’s exactly what happened during our country’s last moment of political debauchery – just like the one we’re enduring now!

    Or how about when “Frankfurter” was “verboten”?


    Folks, when we’re afraid to order food simply bc it has the word “Muslim” in the title, we’ve gotten to a place of irrationality, paranoia and hysteria that’s dangerously toxic and unhealthy.

    Seriously! It’s freakin’ food…

    Oye vey! …will somebody pleeeeeazzzee pass me the big, red, bucket of fried chicken and Freedom Fries!

    …all this madness is making me very hungry 😉

  9. Has anyone received a non-veg entree (chicken?) when ordering the Hindu meal? I ordered it ex-PHL a few weeks ago and it seemed to be the same as the AVML. Not that it wasn’t good, it’s just I was hoping to get a good chicken curry and didn’t, LOL – first world problem I know. Pretty solid that even if you order a special meal, you still get the same bread and dessert options as the regular meals. Solid addition by AA – surprisingly!

  10. I love traveling for food, and I always look for recommendations on YouTube for great meals. I especially love Israeli street food, and there is a guy on YouTube that does a really good job in reviewing local food – simply search for AMIR RIMER on YouTube, and you will find him.

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