The Official American Airlines Onboard Service Policy Guide

Whether you get a meal or a snack on American Airlines depends on the route you’re flying and what cabin you’re in. In addition to the length of flight and whether you’re in first class or coach, some routes get ‘special treatment’ and better food options than others.

Here’s a simple listing, with handy charts, so you’ll know what sort of meal or snack to expect on your next flight.

Domestic Premium Cabin Service Windows

Meals are generally served at meal times on flights that are 900 miles or longer. If they’re 1300 miles you get an appetizer on the tray as an additional course.

There are several routes under 900 miles that get meals for competitive reasons.

  • Dallas Fort-Worth – Leon, Mexico (885 miles)
  • Los Angeles – Denver (849 miles)
  • Chicago – Newark (717 miles)
  • Dallas Fort-Worth – Chicago (802 miles)
  • New York LaGuardia – Atlanta (761 miles)
  • Chicago O’Hare – New York LaGuardia (731 miles)
  • Dallas Fort-Worth – Queretaro, Mexico (871 miles)
  • Chicago – Hartford (783 miles)
  • Chicago – Raleigh (647 miles)
  • Dallas Fort-Worth – San Luis Potosi, Mexico (777 miles)
  • Chicago – Boston (867 miles)
  • New York JFK – Chicago (740 miles)
  • Chicago – Washington National (612 miles)

The shortest American Airlines flight that gets a meal, then, is Chicago – DC.

Embraer E-190 aircraft are part of American’s mainline fleet, not their regional fleet. However like American’s regional fleet and like coach on new narrowbody aircraft there are no ovens and so all meals are served cold.

Domestic Premium Economy

Domestic flights operated by aircraft with a premium economy cabin treat premium economy as being the same as coach unless the flight is scheduled to be at least 6 hours long. Boxed meals are served.

Domestic Coach

For coach on domestic flights the question is whether a flight is long enough for beverage servvice, and if so whether it’s a full beverage service? Whether it gets a snack (biscoff or pretzels) and whether or not there’s food for sale.

This chart will tell you what to expect:

And here’s what flights get biscoff cookies versus pretzels:

Shuttle Flights

While American calls New York LaGuardia – Chicago O’Hare a shuttle, its service is different than for traditional Boston – New York – DC shuttle flights.

For the traditional shuttle, first class gets offered a snack basket. In coach they board snacks for sale but do not offer them. They “can be offered complimentary to [Executive Platinum/Concierge Key members].” So this is worth knowing for top elites.

In coach passengers are to receive a can of their beverage of choice or complimentary wine and beer. Before 9:45 a.m. biscoffs are served as a snack and pretzels after that.

On New York LaGuardia – Chicago O’Hare first class gets a meal during meal hours, and lite snack (‘lite bites’) during off hours. Snacks are available for sale in back, while coach passengers are to receive a can of their beverage of choice or complimentary wine and beer with liquor for sale. Before 9:45 a.m. biscoffs are served as a snack and pretzels after that.

Transcon Flights

Transcon flights are designated premium service flights offering more than the distance of the flight would otherwise require.

On New York JFK – Los Angeles and San Francisco coach passengers get snack boxes.

When Boston – Los Angeles flights are serviced by Airbus A321T aircraft (the planes that fly New York JFK – LAX/SFO) they get premium transcon meal service in business and first class, but no snack boxes for coach. Boston – Los Angeles flights on other aircraft get just the regular meal service based on distance.

Miami – Los Angeles is treated as transcon when the plane is a widebody or an Airbus A321T, and not when it’s a different narrowbody.

An additional beverage service is offered on flights over 1500 miles or 3.5 hours. There’s ‘fresh food for sale’ available for purchase on Westbound flights over 2200 miles until 10 p.m.. And a food item is complimentary in back for Executive Platinum and Concierge Key members.

Hawaii Service

Hawaii flights get upgraded service. For instance there’s meal service even on flights departing after 8 p.m. Special meals are not available from Lihue and Kona.

International Premium Cabin

This grid will decipher American’s service on international flights in business and first class.

New York JFK and Philadelphia to UK and Ireland destinations receive ‘Dine & Rest’ service regardless of departure time. Dallas Fort-Worth to and from Rome gets a mid-flight snack “due to departure time and extended length of haul.”

Special Meals are available from all US outbound locations, but not all inbound airports.

International Coach and Premium Economy

International coach and premium economy meal standards are the same and defined as follows:

New York JFK and Philadelphia to UK and Ireland destinations receive ‘Dine & Rest’ service regardless of departure time. Dallas Fort-Worth to and from Rome gets a mid-flight snack “due to departure time and extended length of haul.”

Special Meals are available from all US outbound locations, but not all inbound airports.

Special Meals

Here’s where special meals are offered – a limited selection on domestic flights with meal service and in all cabin classes on long haul international flights.

Requests must be made at least 24 hours in advance. Some actual meals (such as Muslim and Asian vegetarian) may be the same even though they have different names.

  • AVML – Asian vegetarian*
  • MOML – Muslim*
  • VLML – Lacto-ovo vegetarian
  • DBML – Diabetic*
  • VGML – Vegetarian/Vegan*
  • LFML – Low fat
  • GFML – Gluten intolerant*
  • BBML – Baby
  • LSML – Low sodium
  • HNML – Hindu*
  • BLML – Bland
  • NLML – Non-lactose
  • KSML – Kosher*
  • CHML – Child

For nut allergies “Peanuts are not served onboard. Other nut products (such as warmed nuts) are served onboard.”

Special meals are not available from Anchorage, Kona and Lihue. They are not available on Caribbean, Mexico, Central and Northern Rim Latin America departures. And they are not available to or from stations where we don’t have a caterer at the non-hub station.

Kosher meals are not available at Belo Horizonte, Montevideo, or Brasilia.

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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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Comments

  1. There’s a lot to digest here (ahem), but your chart did explain what I previously thought was a service mistake. On AA coach flights longer than 1100 miles in the afternoon and evening, I’m sometimes offered a Biscoff instead of pretzels. I thought the Biscoffs were for mornings, and they were just getting rid of leftovers. Nope — they want to serve Biscoffs later in the day, but I suppose the flight attendant is supposed to offer you a choice (sometimes they don’t). Personally, I think of the Biscoff as a morning snack (who wants pretzels at 8 am?), but I guess some people like them all day.

  2. I’m regularly on XNA-DFW. It’s blocked between 1h 16m and 1h 24m, 281 miles, and I’ve never received a full beverage service.

  3. @Gary I think I’ve mentioned this before regarding JFK- SEA (when that was a thing) but for the Westbound MIA 8:25 pm departure to SEA, AA offers a meal. In fact AA says dinner service for the flight if you search it on their website.

  4. We all need to remember that it’s supposed to be about TRANSPORTATION not food or a snack on a flight ..after all, sn’t that what you bought a ticket for?

  5. What is “arrival service” for Asian flights? You’d think it would be breakfast but that is specified separately elsewhere.

  6. What is Sacramento to Dallas/Fort Worth. Do you get a meal if you leave in the early morning or just peanuts.

  7. > We all need to remember that it’s supposed to be about TRANSPORTATION not food or a snack on a flight ..after all, sn’t that what you bought a ticket for?

    Nope, it’s just like with cars. It is about much more than TRANSPORTATION. It’s about all the soft things, e.g. in cars it’s cup holders.

    Delta gets it, and their profits show it. American doesn’t, and their diminutive results reflect it

  8. I’ve taken the MIA-SEA flight past 8pm and have gotten served a full meal in first class. I’ve also seen it be served from economy as I’ve taken this flight a few times

  9. Can guarantee half the time you don’t get a choice of pretzels or cookies, it’s because catering did not cater them correctly. The other half is because of lazy crews.

  10. Recently I flew DFW-DEN(sub 700miles flight)in F, they had lite bite for both directions instead of the snack basket. I assume that is due to the competition?

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