Three years ago American Airlines introduced pre-order meals.
Premium cabin customers can pre-select their meal choice either online or over the phone within 30 days of (and up to 24 hours prior to) travel.
This isn’t the same thing as “book the cook” — the idea of choosing from an extensive menu of meals that the airline will then have onboard for you (as offered by airlines like Singapore, Thai, and EVA). Instead it’s a way of making sure you get your preferred meal choice — that the airline doesn’t run out of your selection by the time a flight attendant takes your order.
Pecan Crusted Chicken Salad
Beef Filet with Lobster Mac and Cheese
In mid-September American took this functionality down off their website — 30 days prior to the US Airways integration. Since the meal selection window is also 30 days from travel, it seemed related to pre-order functionality with legacy US Airways flights. Pre-ordering was expected to return to the website in November, though in the meantime you could call and some folks had the American Airlines twitter team let them know meal choices for their flight and register a selection.
You’re still offered the option to pre-order during the booking process if you’re buying first class and you’re within 30 days of travel. But it’s no longer available on the reservation page (and American no longer sends you an email reminding you to pre-order online).
I’ve simply forgotten to make selections for my own flights since the functionality has been off the website. I usually get my first choice anyway, but have missed out on it since the functionality went away. C’est la vie.
It turns out there’s a website ‘hack’ to let you pre-order your meal.
- 1) go to the reservation page on AA.com. The url should look something like this: https://www.aa.com/reservation/selec…Locator=XXXXXX
2) once on the page, paste the following link into the URL box and hit enter: https://www.aa.com/reservation/checkinConfirmation.do
3) the page will reload and ask you if you are travelling with infants. Ignore the error message. Just click “no” and then “continue”.
4) On the next page, scroll down and select your meals. Even though you can’t check in yet, your meal selection will be saved.
Indeed, I can choose from the two options for my next flight that’s within 30 days of travel and has been upgraded.