Before the pandemic I made sure to eat before my American Airlines first class flights. With the return of ‘real meals’ I’ve had some really decent food on board. They put too many salads on a tray but breakfast was even a high point in a way that few U.S. airlines can manage. (It shouldn’t always just be fruit and yogurt or eggs).
Nonetheless, especially on sub-1500 mile routes, American Airlines meals can be disappointing. The watchword here is inconsistency. I expect that out of my home town of Austin where catering hasn’t been able to keep up with American Airlines growth, and meal provisioning has frequently had to be trucked in from Houston.
Still I was especially non-plussed by the options presented to me for my recent Austin – Charlotte – Austin flights in first class. This was lunch Austin – Charlotte:
And much worse, the turkey sandwich reared its ugly head for Charlotte – Austin and this can’t be attributed to catering supply chain out of Austin.
The turkey sandwich is something every regular American Airlines premium cabin flyer dreads, the mainstay of the pandemic, though at least it’s no longer presented in shrink wrap. Here it is from a breakfast last fall.
American Airlines turkey sandwich when it was actually served… at breakfast
My solution was to try out the current special meals that American offers for pre-order. Though not always hot meals, they usually are, and that was something which wasn’t on offer for either flight otherwise.
For Austin – Charlotte I ordered the Kosher meal and for Charlotte – Austin I ordered the Muslim meal.
On my outbound I was asked by the flight attendant how I wanted the meal presented, since it needed to be heated and it’s generally given completely wrapped to make clear it’s remained in its original condition for ensure religious observance. I explained I’m not actually kosher, I was just looking for a bit of variety. Here’s the box.
And here’s the meal itself, which featured hot meatballs of some kind which were mushy but surprisingly tasty. The rest of the meal was not. But I was still happier with it than I’d have been with the regular options.
On my return flight the flight attendant let me know that the Muslim meal was actually the Asian Vegetarian meal. I knew this has been the case for awhile – American used to offer an amazing Muslim meal, really delicious and with meat, but that changed pre-pandemic when they collapsed their number of actual meals for simplicity while still offering the same choices as before. Asian, Hindu, and Muslim meals are all actually the same thing now.
The good news is it was a hot meal, and you don’t have to identify as Muslim – raising all sorts of government alarms, potentially! – for a bit of variety. And it came with baklava! It was a vegetarian meal, nothing spectacular but it was flavorful and hot and not the turkey.
So flying with American Airlines don’t forget the option to pre-order special meals up to 24 hours prior to departure.