As American Airlines prepares to bring real meals back to domestic first class, they’re having supply chain issues even catering the products they currently offer customers on board.
Some of the problems are related to issues everyone has been seeing throughout the pandemic – catering companies tend to pay low wages and it’s tough to find employees – and some has been specific to Omicron and how many workers have been out sick recently.
At an employee question and answer session earlier this month, a recording of which was reviewed by View From The Wing Ameican’s Managing Director of Onboard Dining and Service Jodi Spicer noted that the airline has a 120 day lead time for catering items so they can’t simply replace items they’re short with others.
The biggest problems have been at their Miami hub, she relayed: “We’ve been struggling greatly in Miami.”
The caterer there wasn’t able to hire anyone, didn’t get a single applicant when trying to add staff recently. As a result American has “had people on site for the last 60 days..helping them raise wages, helping them bring in temporary employees.”
But hiring commercial drivers license drivers is difficult. And they “pull people forward” each day to cover lack of staff, and then the final 15-20 departures of the night (she later mentioned the “last 20-30”) have no one left to cater planes. Although the past few weeks they’ve had more staff and fewer planes without food or taking long delays for catering.