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When the COVID-19 pandemic emerged in 2020, airlines were quick to cut service elements — most notably meals — from their inflight offerings.
Now, almost 2 years after the initial wave of the pandemic in the U.S., American Airlines will begin to phase-in hot meals and more full-service amenities.
Let’s take a look at the details.
What You Can Expect — and When
Flyer Favorites Return Starting February 16, 2022
Starting February 16, 2022, the following elements will return to the first-class meal service on American Airlines:
- Pre-departure Beverage: On flights of any length, flight attendants will offer first class flyers the full range of alcoholic drinks. You can expect these beverages to be served in plastic cups.
- Warm Nuts: A longtime staple of flying with American Airlines, you’ll once again see the small ramekin of warm nuts served alongside your beverage.
- Hot Meal Service: Served on a single tray on flights longer than 3.5 hours, hot meal choices will include a protein or vegetarian entree, along with an appetizer, salad, and dessert.
- Dessert: A small bundt cake will replace the previously offered chocolate chip cookie.
Light Meals Debut Later in February 2022
Toward the end of February, American will introduce lighter meals that will be served on flights between 2.5 and 3.5 hours. Options will include smoked salmon, fruit and cheese plates, entree salads, grain bowls, and more.
Unfortunately, flights 2.5 hours or under will not feature any meal service aside from the current snack basket. In the past, American offered meals on so-called “exception” routes — such as Washington, D.C. (DCA) to Chicago (ORD) — but the airline is not restoring meals on these exception routes at this time.
Preorders and Special Meals Return April 2022
This spring, American Airlines will restore some service elements that were available before the pandemic but haven’t been since:
- Meal Preorders: Customers will be able to once again preorder meals online to guarantee their first-choice selection of entrees. Preorders will open 30 days before the flight and will remain so until 24 hours before departure.
- Special Meals: Flyers will again have the ability to choose among several special meals, including Asian vegetarian, diabetic, gluten intolerant, Hindu, Kosher, Muslim, and vegan/vegetarian. These meals used to be some of the best meals served on AA flights, but recently they’ve been known to be served frozen and aren’t nearly as appetizing as they once were.
Hot Tip: We always recommend ordering your inflight meals ahead of time (when possible) so you can guarantee that you’ll be eating what you prefer.
Further in the Future
American has said that it will continue to introduce further enhancements, including a dedicated, elevated meal service for premium passengers flying on longer domestic flights, but we don’t yet have any details as to what that will look like.
It’s great to see American Airlines finally bring back hot food, as the carrier has been serving only cold sandwiches and prepackaged salad options for the past 2 years — and frankly, these weren’t the least bit appetizing. While these new service offerings don’t amount to a complete restoration of the inflight service we were used to before the pandemic, it’s certainly a step in the right direction and will make the premium cabin feel more, well, premium than it does now.
Featured Image Credit: American Airlines
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