Gate Gourmet Will Again Cater American Airlines at LAX Despite Listeria Scare

Two months ago American Airlines stopped using Gate Gourmet for catering at LAX when listeria was found at their facility. Delta and Virgin Australia followed within two weeks of American’s decision.

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. And Flying Food Group began catering Tokyo, Hong Kong, Sydney, and Auckland. Most domestic flights were double-catered in their origin city before flying to Los Angeles.

Gate Gourmet, while not providing food, still serviced American Airlines aircraft in Los Angeles. They took out the trash and boarded beverage carts.

American Airlines Terminal 4 LAX

Customers on flights without the expected catering were getting proactive apology emails and vouchers towards future travel.

Now American Airlines is bringing Gate Gourmet back for most domestic flights. My sense is that going cold turkey (sandwiches, hah) on Gate Gourmet was probably an overreaction in the first place. Reportedly “the listeria was not found on food-contact surfaces” — only in the floor drains (and there aren’t any reports of sickness). They’ve been clear for a month.

At the same time I’m confident American Airlines got an amazing deal to bring the caterer back after the issues they experienced.

Here’s the memo to employees on the return of Gate Gourmet at LAX:

LAX Catering Changes
January 4, 2018

As you may recall, as a preventive measure two months ago, we stopped using the services of one of our onboard caterers at LAX, Gate Gourmet. This abrupt change created a hardship for our crews, LAX-based team members and customers, and we appreciate everyone’s incredible patience as we worked through these challenges.

During this period, we have been working extensively with outside food safety experts to ensure that any re-entry to their kitchen at LAX maintained our highest food safety standards. We also enlisted the support of a third-party expert, who inspected and substantiated the safety of their facility.

We are pleased to share that through a phased approach, we will return to having Gate Gourmet cater the majority of our domestic operation from their LAX kitchen. The American team appreciates the extensive work by Gate Gourmet to remediate this issue.

American will continue to use the catering services of Air Fayre, Flying Food Group and LSG Sky Chefs for our Hawaii, international, regional and transcontinental flights.

Throughout this process, every decision we made was always focused on the safety of our customers and team members. While we know these changes have been difficult, we would like to sincerely thank all those who were impacted during these two months for their patience and understanding.

Interestingly they are dropping Flying Food Group (and with it the hoped-for alignment with Qantas and Japan Airlines catering on Pacific routes it seems) in mid-February.

Both Flying Food Group and Gate Gourmet Servicing an Aircraft at the Same Time in December

Here’s the full catering transition schedule:

Phase 1: January 5 – Gate Gourmet will provide full beverage service and modified meal service on:

• All morning originators
• All narrowbody international (Canada, Mexico, Caribbean) to domestic flights
• All long haul (LH) domestic (non-JFK/MIA-LAX) flights LAX to/from BDL, BOS, DCA, IAD, MBJ, MCO, PHL, RDU and YYZ
o We will continue to DP for the few days of service start-up as a precaution

Phase 2: January 10 – Gate Gourmet will also cater:

• All remaining domestic short haul (SH) and medium haul (MH) flights
• Full return to standard service plus pre-orders and special meals.

All remaining flights will continue to be catered, like today, as follows:

• Transcon, LAX-JFK/MIA flights – LSG
• LAX-Hawaii – LSG
• IPE, LAX- LHR (2), GRU, PVG and PEK – Air Fayre
• IPE, LAX-HND, NRT, SYD, AKL and HKG – Flying Food Group
• In mid-February, we will transition all widebody international flying permanently to Air Fayre

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 »

More articles by Gary Leff »



  1. Air Fayre at LAX had the lowest quality score from an internal assessment conducted by AA. Someone posted the report somewhere a couple months back.

    So surprising to see them move all TPAC to them… probably willing to sacrifice quality in the name of $$$$.

  2. Figures that in the end this was just another negotiation ploy to bring their costs down. Never mind the inconvenience it put their customers through for two months…

    I went lax to hk during that fiasco on paid J so I could burn SWUs to F. All it did was remind me why I always take JAL or Cathay to Asia and why they never get my money TPAC.

    Yes that’s the definition of a drop in the bucket but from what I saw and heard going in and out of LAX the last coupke of months they’re were a lot of those drops

  3. If they could give everyone Listeria in AAs Catering
    and Doug Parker could get away without being sued to save two wooden nickles then that’s what they will serve
    I look forward to their new Listeria free options on board in First
    There will certainly be a new up charge for it in Basic economy
    Those mere passengers will have to buy up to a far more expensive category with Buy on Board to stay disease free during their flight
    Yes Amulican something special in the Air

  4. I don’t understand the logic of needing so many catering companies for one airline. Can’t AA just award the entire LAX catering to just one company?

  5. That what happens when you try to cut corners in basic cleaning. Rushing to save earned hours and forgetting the basics.

  6. Forgot that they did massive layoff. And they exposed everyone to posion. And never informed anyone that there was a out break.of listeria bacteria. And have continue to work staff. Remaining they need a class action suit.

Comments are closed.