American’s Chicken Salad Lunch: New Worst Airline Meal Ever?

American Airlines lets you pre-order your meal if you’re flying first class, as long as you’re booked into the cabin 24 hours prior to departure. There are several items you can choose from.

Lunch has a choice of a salad and one other entree, special meals, a cheese plate, or a charcuterie plate.

If you don’t pre-order it’s a salad or a lunch entree, or you may get stuck with whichever of those is left. All of the salads come with grilled chicken breast on the side.

  • American Chopped Salad
  • TexMex Salad
  • Mezze Trio Plate
  • Chinese Chicken Salad

If you choose the salad, here’s a sample of the chicken as seen on American Airlines flight AA644, the 1 p.m. departure from Charlotte to Austin on Friday.

I guess this is the reason airline President Robert Isom says their caterers have “gotten a little bit lazy in terms of what they can provide us.” Unfortunately it doesn’t seem he’s done enough about it, although after listeria was found at their LAX caterer’s facility a little over a year ago I’d expect better quality control.

The next time you’re on a business trip, headed into a meeting you’re dreading and really want to skip, consider the chopped, TexMex, or Chinese chicken salad. It may just be your (valid) excuse to beg off (slogan: “salmonella: it’s what’s for lunch”).

I reached out to American Airlines for comment and they offered, “We appreciate you alerting us to this. The entree is certainty not up to our catering standards and we will look into it.”

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. Disgusting raw salmonella slime
    It takes talent to serve dry over cooked and raw at the same time

  2. Did they have an alternate for you or were they out of meals when you notified the FA? I know their domestic catering levels are generally very tight.

  3. AA has always nominated the chicken breast (along with most proteins) meaning they buy it directly from a manufacturer, pre cooked and the caterer simply puts it on the plate

    Being the beginning of the month it could be that they ran out of the nominated product and the caterer had to pitch hit by cooking one. Can’t tell by the picture

    Unfortunately AA has taken so much “cooking” away from the caterers that rarely do they have the talent to cook when necessary

  4. They served you raw chicken on a plane and the best they can offer is they will “look into it?”

  5. What’s new?

    Flying F on AA SAN-ORD this past October flight billed as “lunch” despite leaving at 2:50 pm PST (=4:50 pm CST); therefore, flying through the dinner hour headed east.

    The least worst choice was a Vietnamese Chicken Salad. At least the FA enjoyed my perspective that the chicken tasted like it was from Bangladesh, raised on a Goodyear farm, and walked all the way to the airport.

    I am certain nobody in Viet-Nam, South Vietnam, or Vietnam today actually ate this garbage.

    Not to beat an old theme, but this pathetic concept of food, in any class, is the end result of the lack of meaningful competition!

  6. In Kagoshima, Japan, raw chicken is a specialty. I’m sure this is almost as good and safe.

  7. “Chicken salad” is not the same as chicken that happens to be served with/on a salad…

    That said, ew.

  8. AA is a total disgrace as an Exec. Plt for centuries I’m completely disgusted with them. But that salmonella, sorry “ chicken” you’ll find on every dinner or lunch flight. There’s no distinction. Always the same rubbish.

  9. It’s rare but not unusual.

    Humor aside, if it was cooked, it’d still be better than UA’s Salmon Protein Bowl.

  10. Mmmmmmmmm. Raw chicken. What wine does American Airlines pair with their raw chicken served in first class?

  11. I flew AA from MBJ to CLT. As I was in economy, I’d pre-ordered my meal and paid for it when it was served. I opened the bag, and it contained a wrap of some kind with gooey orange-colored sauce congealed at one end. I had to check the menu to figure out what I’d been served–which was supposedly a turkey wrap with pimento cheese. If that stuff was pimento, I am a unicorn. Yes, I tossed it. But, I admit the accompanying chocolate chip cookie was good.

  12. There is one sure-fire way to avoid the chicken, it has worked for me every time. Just don’t fly AA.

  13. I skip whatever is served in J or F and twist the FA’s arm for all the chocolate chips cookies they can give me. Personal record is 4. Yummy

  14. All of you knocking Southwest for not providing meals… this is what you’re fight for???

    I pack my own healthy, delicious, TSA friendly lunch (or just stop at Jimmy Johns on the way to the airport 🙂 ) and put it my carry on. Southwest just provides the drink.

  15. Iowa’s poisoned by the breakfast orange juice they served in a pot for breakfast. I swear l know it was the orange,and l felt awful when l stood to leave the plane,l didn’t think l could get off. I had to get a coach to Brighton, Which l sat through taking breaths and with my coat over my head. My husband brought be a bowl when he collected me,and l was sick….and that lasted 12 hours. I never ever eat and companies aeroplane meals…and l only drink my own water. I buy something to eat before l board. When you’ve experienced something like this…you never forget. Some of the food served isn’t fit for pigs.

  16. I flew first class to Central America and I pre-order my meal and the food was crappy! The chicken was dry like a cardboard and the head flight attendant was rude and not what I expected from first class. I’m a former employee of US Airways and we had better service when we were smaller. The days of luxury flying are a thing of the past like PamAm

  17. It happens. Ever had a bad me at a restaurant? Seems to me another post from a guy with a chip on his shoulder with American. Always have bad things to say, but still flies with them? Hmmmmm….

  18. @Paul: The point is to kill off the elderly and children. This gets rid of the need for wheelchair attendants, early boarding , and screaming brats.
    It reduces the number of diversions due to suspected heart attacks, unless, of course, they were caused by the food.

    I’ve been hoping for decades the pilots would be poisoned by the airline’s food ,and the FA’s would have to make one of those announcements like the WN flight to Omaha, :”Do we have any pilots on board?”
    I’m looking for a chance to fly a big jet and make the evening news LEGALLY.

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