Espresso Drinks Are Back On Board American Airlines International And Premium Cross Country Planes

American Airlines stopped catering the espresso machines on board their Boeing 777, Boeing 787, and Airbus A321T aircraft during the pandemic. The “frothing wands, cups, saucers, brewing pods” were taken off of planes, according to the airline. Fortunately espresso drinks are back!

When business travel was completely grounded there was little high yield demand, and American had adjusted its service levels downward. Yet an espresso option, such as in first class on New York JFK – Los Angeles and San Francisco flights, was even more valuable for American Airlines than other airlines given the inferior coffee that they’ve been using.

  • United serves Illy coffee.
  • Delta serves Starbucks.
  • But American uses FreshBrew. That’s the stuff United moved away from in one of former CEO Oscar Munoz’s first moves to distance himself from the cost-cutting Smisek era (it’s also when United introduced stroopwafels).

If you want drinkable coffee on American, it needs to be espresso.

Regardless of the grounds, though, the biggest problem with inflight coffee is the water – and this is universal for airlines that don’t make their coffee with bottled water. Bottled water than tank water should be the standard because coffee is a serious investment – something where major US airlines spend $5 to $10 million a year.

American’s espresso machines tended to be used more by employees than by customers who often didn’t realize the option existed. However investing in better coffee for both employees and customers has a business case even aside from customer preference.

  • Improved operational efficiency and reduced delays, by eliminating pilots stopping at Starbucks in the terminal on the way to the aircraft.

  • Improved employee morale, which in turn affects customer service. Better coffee is a product flight attendants can be proud of and reduces complaints they receive from customers. American has long said they’re investing in employees, who will take care of their customers. This is a crucial area where they’ve lagged.

Quality coffee is especially important for early departures. Pre-pandemic the ‘first flight Monday morning’ consultant routes benefited from this investment most. It’s great to see that this amenity is back at American on planes that have had the machines to offer 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. Gary

    IIRC the espresso machines were only provisioned on aircraft with 1st class…thus they are only present on the 321T and 777-300.

    I was offered and did accept an espresso based coffee drink on the 321T from SFO back in mid-February in F. I was quite surprised at the time they had re-provisioned the machines.

  2. Very timely post and can corroborate. Had one yesterday BOS-LAX in Biz, very tasty

  3. Having a latte available in long-haul business-class is such a simple thing that makes a big difference. Airplane coffee is garbage, so I’ll look forward to being able to order a latte when I wake up on my next overseas AA flight.

  4. All passengers would enjoy a frothy crappachino when flying on American Airlines.


    ….But of your coffee supplier doesn’t firmly commit to between 3-5 children breaking a limb in the gathering of said beans off a precarious mountain slope then I mean does it even count therefore matter!?

    I didn’t say it wouldn’t be in poor taste so that on you if you opted to read on after I warned you.
    And NO YOU IDIOT I do not find the thought of such things actually happening to be amusing for that one person who’s still gonna get their panties bunched up.

    Have a great weekend folks

  6. @Clayton: I would not be concerned if your coffee joke is in poor taste as long as the coffee tastes good.

    How many children have broken a limb or died while gathering coffee beans for “Death Wish” brand coffee?

  7. American is the second worst airline in America just a notch above Spirit. Regardless of what coffee they tell you they are serving this just another stunt that applies to a small number if flights if it is even true and cannot improve what has sadly become a hopelessly muddled mess.

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