Dear American Airlines, This Is Not A Bagel

Dear American Airlines,

I realize that you’re based in Dallas, and top management moved there from Tempe, Arizona. So it’s understandable that you might be confused. So I wanted to share with you in unequivocal terms: this is not what a bagel is.

American Airlines, Austin – Charlotte, October 2021

For the more philosophically-inclined at the company, this does not participate in the form of bagel.

American Airlines, Austin – Charlotte, October 2021

A bagel is dense bread in the shape of a ring that has been boiled and then baked. They’re associated historically with Eastern European Jewish tradition, and whether or not it’s actually the water the best bagels are unquestionably from New York.

I know that there used to be people in your organization that knew this, because prepandemic I was served bagels several times in the morning on regional jets, though sometimes the accompanying smoked ‘lox’ turned out to be pieces of shredded salmon from a lunch salad:

American Eagle Breakfast, 2018

Perhaps it’s the knowledge lost from a 30% cut in management staff, so I’ll help out here. Taking your shrink-wrapped turkey sandwich on a roll and printing on a label that it a ‘bagel’ does not suddenly make it breakfast.

American Airlines, Austin – Charlotte, October 2021

You have a hub in Los Angeles, and another one in Philadelphia. Granted, neither of those is New York. But New York JFK retains hub status, even if it’s been neglected for several years. You’re building up a “Northeast Alliance” with JetBlue (JetBlue is even a bit nervous about their reputation as a result of things like tis).

Having grown up as a New York Jew, of Eastern European descent, I believe it is important that you do better.

Yours fondly,

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. Reminds me of a French Canadian former colleague who’s mantra was “A crescent shaped roll does not make it a croissant”

  2. Uhm, to be fair it says right on the sticker “BAGLE”. So it’s clearly not a bagel.

    Just sayin’.

  3. I used to bake bagels in Brooklyn (in a bagel shop owned by an Italian guy; we can cook ANYTHING.) This is a travesty!

  4. Looks to me more like an “everything” ciabatta roll.

    BTW they’ve misspelled it as “bagle”.

  5. How ironic that in chiding American for not serving a proper bagel, you define a perfect “donut”.

  6. Had one of those “bagels” in First on a flight from LA to CLT. Wondered why they called it a bagel. My wife had a good idea, she said that it was because they put everything bagel seasoning on it. BTW, the breakfast also had the “classic yogurt” in your pic. It was overly sweetened with sugar and mystery fruit. In my mind, a bagel is round bread dough that has been boiled and then baked to a golden brown (nevertheless, the mini sandwich didn’t taste that bad). Classic yogurt isn’t sweetened to taste like a smoothie or ice cream. Classic yogurt would have nothing added to it; just milk and cultured bacteria.

  7. American Airlines appears to be incapable of spelling the word “bagel” correctly. Passengers hope to receive a proper New York-type bagel during meal service. Regarding the extreme passenger disappointment in this breakfast meal, I expect passengers will advise American Airlines, “take a flying f**k at a rolling bagel. Or, using pilot vernacular, “why don’t you go have aeronautical intercourse with a rolling pastry.

  8. The bagels in New York are good. The ones in Montreal are better. Sorry, New York, but it’s true.

  9. You should have asked for the “protein”. It’s an AA specialty that won’t find anywhere else.

  10. October2020, or did you mean October 2021??? Another misspelling error Too much Gary???

  11. That breakfast item clearly identifies as a “bagle.” Who are you to question its identity just because you understand reality and that words have meaning?

  12. I learned how to make my own NY-style bagels, so I can tell you it’s not the water. Key ingredient: barley malt syrup. However, I haven’t had a good NY bagel outside of NY other than the ones myself and one other person I know bake ourselves.

    As for Montreal bagels… I consider them a different pastry. New York bagels need schmear or cream cheese, whereas the sweeter Montreal bagels can be eaten without cream cheese.

    Greetings from Quebec btw. From someone still bemoaning H&H on the UWS of NY closing.

  13. Their fake bagel is quite sturdy and can be used for a spare tire should a blow out occur
    on one of their planes So multi function SH*t on a shingle and a back up tire courtesy of Lost in Space Parker & his hillbilly cronies

  14. Blame the flight kitchen (Sky Chefs) not American. I’m sure AA specifications called for a bagel.

  15. Come to Cincinnati, Ohio and try Marx Bagels.
    You might find the bagel that you want and meet some nice workers and customers.
    Our choice for over 50 years.

  16. American Airlines is doing a fine job of convincing me to switching to other airlines. Southwest finally have won in my opinion. There is no justification for flying American Airlines. Food service is shamble. They might as well go back to the bistro bag after 9/11. A slider with ham and cheese, or try Asian Airlines approach; a bakery box. Outsourcing food service. They clearly cannot not do it anymore. It used to be that fly American because of international flights. Now clearly flight foreign airlines would be the better choice. Southwest, Alaska, or Jet Blue would be the best for domestic flights.

  17. Ess-a-Bagel and Russ & Daughters FTW. I used to love (relatively-speaking) newcomer Murray’s Bagels, too, but they lost a bit of my respect when they started toasting ~10 years ago.

    Aforementioned H&H ain’t bad, used to go there regularly when living nearby on the UES. Still, I think it ain’t quite on par with Ess-a-bagel.

  18. I swore Russ & Daughters bought their bagels from someone and I used to be correct. They used to buy them from The Bagel Hole in Brooklyn. Since 2019 they have made their own, and have been declared by some to be the best bagel in New York.

    I’m sticking by my assessment the Montreal bagel is superior because you can have a wood-fired oven in Montreal and you can’t do that in New York.

  19. I can’t believe the quality of food from AA has hit new lows. Can they make our flying experience any worse? They intentionally named it “Bagle” to lower your expectations.

  20. @John My favorite is actually Brooklyn Bagel, down the street from Murrays (which I agree isn’t the best). Ess-a-bagel is great! I haven’t tried Russ & Daughters. but I will next month when I visit NY again.

  21. If you fry a Donut then you can have it for Hannukah, though I preferred my grandma’s potato latkes 🙂
    To get back on the subject, I used to by a Pastrami sandwich before going out to the Buenos Aires flight and it was the envy of the rest of the plane.

  22. Your comment is so not in line with today’s thinking.

    Maybe that day your roll was identifying as a bagle. (If it had been born as one, it would have known that the correct spelling is “bagel”).

    Although I would not call that a bagle OR a bagel, who are you and I to judge???!!!

  23. AA never said it was a bagel. They spelled it “bagle” on the package, just like Asian restaurants that call imitation crabmeat “krab”. A bagel is a bagle is a…?

  24. Gary, c’mon now. You have had plenty of direct conversations with the AA Food & Beverage team, and I would think you’d understand (as Joe T pointed), that sometimes the caterer screw things up and sometimes will substitute to try and get a comparable meal on board (the type of bread in this case). I get it, it doesn’t matter excuse the caterer and this open letter on your platform tends to get more attention from AA management. Which in turn, they’ll like track the issue down and address any failings with the station caterer. But you’re faking an ignorance here that induces a heavy eye-roll.

  25. I agree it’s probably the seasonings on the bread- ‘everything bagel’ has become a pretty popular seasoning mix in the past few years and you can buy a shaker of it from many spice companies like Badia.

  26. Funny. The idea of using a cold bagel for a sandwich makes my stomach turn. It was bad enough when they started using croissant instead of bread or rolls. People who make the food and package it do not speak or write English. They do what they’re told by a dual-language supervisor. Nobody does any actual thinking.

  27. This is clearly class warfare as no one in their right mind would serve this garbage to its first class passengers let alone a death row inmate for the last year and a half–I guess margins trump everything. On the other hand, maybe someone is just enjoying a fat kickback for purchasing this bunk as it is consistently the worst food I have ever experienced on a reoccurring basis and I’m being honest and not exaggerating. Clearly the executive you greenlighted these “meals” must have had their brain stem melted away by COVID.
    The only thing worse than the food at AA is the employee morale especially the pilots and flight attendants. It is sadly hilarious to hear the airlines own employees compare the airline to Spirit airlines in a race to the bottom.
    What is particularly disturbing is that American Airlines (excuse me–US Airways/America West) continually finds a way to make their product worse.

  28. Wait a minute – wait a minute ! I just spotted the “Everything Bagle” mysteriously disguised as another “morphed” sandwich in this article “American Airlines Surveying Whether Predeparture Beverages Have To Come Back.” Ah, the power of stickers (or not) on cellophane!

  29. What is it with the airlines. Yesterday I flew UA Polaris from FRA to IAD. Before landing one of the options was a margherita pizza. Sounded good. I’ll try it. It looked terrible. I’ve seen better items from a vending machine. I have to think crew serving this must be embarassed. What does something like that cost the airline? Are margins that tight they can’t provide something a little nicer, especially on the cost of a business class ticket? Quality of the main meal was ok but the entree portions are so small, nothing compared to what they used to serve. Again, how much more would it cost to add a few ounces more to the fillet?

  30. “ the best bagels are unquestionably from New York”

    Nope. Bodos Bagels in Charlottesville, Va

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