The Secret to a Good Meal on American Airlines

I’ve been a critic of American Airlines domestic first class meals, though I’ve had multiple people tell me that the current chicken meatballs aren’t bad and the short rib is better than some of the other choices.

American Airlines lets you pre-select your meal up to 24 hours prior to departure. That’s not like Singapore Airlines where you get a wide variety of choices. Instead you’re mostly just choosing from among the options that would be available onboard. However this way you know they won’t run out of your first choice selection.

American also introduced special meals by pre-order earlier this year. And ordering special meals is the key to getting better food onboard.

I’m not sure I’d order a Muslim meal because the government has access to your reservation information, and flying while Muslim triggers all sorts of government (and fellow passenger) alarms. (Update: American tells me that special meal preferences aren’t shared with DHS or TSA though I doubt they’ll ever convince me DHS doesn’t have access to full PNR data.)

However Lucky from One Mile at a Time really likes American’s Asian Vegetarian meals (though not always).

On Friday I tried American’s kosher meal for the first time flying Los Angeles – Austin at lunch time. And it was amazing at least as far as American Airlines domestic first class meals go.

It came fully wrapped, which I like because if I was Kosher I’d want to know that the meal hadn’t been mixed with American’s other dishware.

The hot entree was also fully wrapped, on top of the package holding the cold items. It was chicken wrapped in foil.

To be sure the chicken was overheated and extremely hot, something the flight attendant didn’t warn me about. It took awhile before it cooled down enough where I could pull off the wrapping (and the foil was stuck onto the package very well). Still, the chicken itself was in a delicious curry so I didn’t mind that it was overcooked.

Here’s the rest of the tray.

Honestly the gefilte fish wasn’t the best I’ve ever had, but for packaged airplane food it was tasty.

There was packaged water along with coffee and tea.

It came with a dessert (and I was still offered the same cookie as everyone else after meal trays had been picked up, which I declined)

The other nice thing about getting all of the packaging was it meant once I was done eating (and it was too much food, I didn’t eat it all) I didn’t need to wait for a flight attendant to come collect my tray.

One of the things I hate most about eating onboard is waiting for my tray to be picked up, it’s difficult to take my laptop out and work and I sit there wasting time. But with this packaging I could just rest my laptop on top of it and be fully productive while waiting for the flight attendant to come pick it up.

All in all this was the best lunch I’ve had on American Airlines since the US Airways-ization of onboard meal service in September 2014.

Now I’m torn. My next first class flight on American with meal service is likely to be Dallas – Seattle. Do I order to kosher meal again to test for consistency out of another station, and especially outside of Passover, or do I try another special meal to compare (not the Muslim meal because I don’t want to get sent to Guantanamo)?

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. This is the Kosher for Passover meal. Come back and review the meal for the other 51 weeks a year. I don’t know how much weight you can put in this one as my guess is they do even more outsourcing for where the food is coming from.

  2. I really enjoyed the AVM meal PHX-SEA, probably the best meal I’ve ever had on American; domestic or international.

  3. You may be disappointed if you decide to try each one. On United economy TPAC flights, muslim, hindu and asian veg are all the same. That may be the case with many catering systems. They end up being delicious fried eggplant and tumeric rice on the flights to America and horrible things like bulgur wheat sandwiches on the outbound. I find that Kosher is often the best alternative meal from US catering.

  4. @AdamH true, I think I’ll compare it to another kosher meal later this month before moving on to other special meal types. But this was excellent.

  5. The best special order airline food used to be the cold seafood platter. Think jumbo shrimp, crab, and lobster with all the extras. Sometimes a cup of seafood soup, salad and dessert. No more, no more.

  6. @John I used to order the seafood meal in economy on United in the 90s, it was in my profile! I wasn’t a huge fan of it up front though so when I was upgraded I would have the request removed.

  7. “It came fully wrapped, which I like because” there’s just not enough plastic thrown away in the world.

  8. @Dom I can respect a religious tradition I do not follow myself, and doing something to provide comfort that it’s being followed.

    In any case I wasn’t saying I liked *the plastic*. The meal comes wrapped in plastic. I was saying I liked that the flight attendant *didn’t remove* the plastic.

  9. Sanka? What is this, the 70’s? Lol. I’m going to try it. The last 2 gentile meals in biz I couldn’t even finish.

  10. Seafood plate was a
    Good one but back in the 90’s AA had a heart healthy meal that was awesome. Wish they brought that back.

  11. I used to order kosher meals on a regular basis but the amount of packaging is ridiculous. Is it better in God’s eyes to keep kosher or prevent an incredible amount of plastic from entering the waste stream?

  12. Gary: With all due respect, I suggest trying the KSML meals not during passover…on many (most?) flights you’ll be disappointed.

  13. “I’m not sure I’d order a Muslim meal because the government has access to your reservation information, and flying while Muslim triggers all sorts of government (and fellow passenger) alarms.”

    This is the dumbest comment I have ever read from all the reviews I have read from other writers. Well, I guess this comment shows your Jewish faith more than anything else. Don’t be a xenophobe!!!

    First, I am NOT a Moslem. The only reason I order Halal/Moslem meals on most international flights (if in economy) is because the regular meals are unpalatable on all airlines. Halal meals on all US airlines are well prepared with spices and delicious.

  14. @Rumy – THIS HAS ACTUALLY BEEN AN ISSUE with meal choice a flag that’s been used, don’t criticize me, critize the governments that have actually done this!

Comments are closed.