How American Airlines Plans to Change Domestic First Class Meal Service

When US Airways management came in at American Airlines they took an axe to meal service, effective September 2014, and were shocked to discover that passengers cared about inflight meals. A lot. By August they had restored some of the catering investment.

Still though American’s domestic first class meals aren’t very good, and with cutbacks to special meals, an 18 month shelf life, and myriad other cuts to catering in the name of ‘simplicity’ I’d just assume either eat before or after my flight or pre-order the charcuterie plate.

Lewis Lazare talks to American Airlines about domestic first class catering.

  • Survey responses show passengers value red meat options. Expect more variation on the brisket (aka mystery meat). If you ever get a survey on your meal, respond. The airline uses those, even if it sometimes seems just to justify cuts.

    Short ribs and brisket work better because they remain moister. New sauces for the brisket and short ribs sampled at the Gate Gourmet kitchens include include one made with creamy brie cheese. To-die-for. Here’s hoping the Carolina-style barbecue sauce sampled last week makes it on the new menus too. Double yum!

  • Instead of a once a year total refresh expect gradual evolution of the menu (“the plan starting this year is to slowly introduce new dishes over time, and keep several possibilities in the pipeline should new options not prove popular.”).

  • New domestic first class menus are “expected to begin showing up on flights nationwide as early as August or September.” That’s ahead of the previous one year cycle since a new series of first class lunches and dinners debuted in mid-November. Breakfasts and regional jet meals were changed up in February.

Domestic First Class Cheeseburger Lunch

Now word on any change in philosophy for what’s in American’s first class snack baskets.

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. Real simple – restore pmAA catering standards on all domestic flights.

    Anything less is not trying and holding down yields.

    What are they doing on that front? Appears LAX-MIA getting some of that treatment.

  2. American will suck as long as Parker or anyone associated with him is running the airline. He has 100% ran American Airlines into the ground. They are afloat only due to lack of competition otherwise they would be losing hundreds of millions. There is little to no reason to book on AA unless schedules force you to.

  3. My internist is a frequent traveler and he did an experiment on himself and quit eating airline food on flight days and dropped his LDL Cholesterol by 30 points within a few months. Likewise, I avoid the onboard food as much as possible. If you travel a lot, whether you’re young or old, you need to seriously consider the health implications of airline food, along with fast food and all the rest of the unhealthy options out there. The terminal and lounges have much healthier offerings.

  4. @Donna,
    If they truly are going more to meat offerings (and, perhaps, reducing the carbs in the process), then that will also go a long way toward reducing LDL cholesterol. Or, folks can simply avoid the carb portions of the meal and focus on the protein and fat component to get the safe affect now.


  5. I agree with Gary’s comments almost completely. The first class catering is breathtakingly awful, and even the highly-touted burger generally arrives greasy and wet. (And why do they make such a big deal about “Sir Kensington’s Condiments”? Do they think anyone really prefers these over Heinz or Hellman’s? Wouldn’t it be better to invest in the food, and not the add-ons and their packaging). I also agree that the Charcuterie plate is probably the best of a wretched set of choices. But like everything else AA, it depends on where the meals are loaded..Miami food is often dried and old; LAX and DFW generally fresher.)
    But here’s a suggestion:
    What is so difficult about allowing first class passengers to order in advance from the Zoe’s Buy on Board menu, and have the sandwich or salad served on the first class setup? Economy passengers can already purchase whatever they wish in advance and the caterer seems to be able to accommodate it. This would seem to be an easy change (even for them!) I suspect first class passengers would consider this an enhancement, as the quality of even these pre-wrapped items is generally better than what we get today.

  6. I solved the issue I no longer fly American
    Problem solved!
    No longer deal with some of their hostile angry bitter res agents ,lack of customer relations/customer service and or AAs penny pinching management
    Ahhh my sanity and pleasure have been restored to my travel life
    Don’t miss the AArrogance of Doug Parker and his misguided decision making
    He will go down as the worst CEO in Americans history

  7. The new meals will start in August? Not until the old ones are a year past their expiry date

  8. Sadly, even in 1st on the 3 class transcon the meals are less than. We try to plan our flights so that we can dine in Flagship dining then not eat on the plane. Unfortunately, that option is only available on the transcon and International First flights, and AA seems to be phasing out 3 class international service. I question why they spent the millions of dollars at LAX, JFK & MIA (and looks like they might be doing Flagship at SFO when they construct their new lounge) on Flagship dining when there is less and less opportunity (and passengers) to utilize it.

  9. @dwondermeant if you no longer fly AA then why make a comment on them? You have no recent basis to make a comment. As far as we know you experience is from the 80s not in the last 6 months.

  10. Hate to say it but ALL food on planes are BAD at 35,000 feet the taste buds are not the same at ground level . I have taken my ring dings on planes and they taste just as bad as on the ground. Even M&M’s do not taste the same at 30,000

  11. We recently flew 4 domestic legs in F on AA and with one exception the meals were very tasty. The exception was a chicken breast that was so dry that it was difficult to cut it let alone eat it.

Comments are closed.