American’s Caterer at LAX Says Their Food Is Disgusting

LSG Sky Chefs was founded as the catering arm of American Airlines but is now owned by Lufthansa. They’re the largest airline caterer. And they’ve had ongoing disputes with labor union UNITE HERE.

The union demands higher pay, and doesn’t just make those demands of their employer but also the airlines they contract with. American Airlines has provided over $22 million in wage supplements for the union’s workers.

A far cry from management’s position running US Airways, it seems American Airlines has yet to come across a worker they don’t want to pay more to do the same work.

Yet UNITE HERE is engaging in an action against American Airlines, criticizing the work they and their employer are doing for American by handing out flyers to customers. This was spotted Friday in the American terminal at LAX. (HT: Brad S.)

While I’m not a fan of American’s domestic catering the complaints in this flyer don’t actually sound so bad if you know anything about restaurants. Or spend any time on Reddit. And it always amazes me what warrants an ‘A’ rating from the Health Department.

Sadly Lam Zhou Homemade Noodle in New York Has Closed

I don’t see how driving business away from American Airlines is going to improve wages at American’s caterer – especially when the airline is supplementing those wages.

On the other hand, demanding that American bump up its catering spend by telling customers how great their inflight meals at least stands a chance.

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, 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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  1. The union complaints seem extreme. What is the big deal if a mosquito or two ends up in a meal or your salad? It’s all protein.

  2. So we’re all to believe that paying the catering workers another $1 an hour is going to solve all those issues?

    Typical union BS. These morons are the ones who ruined domestic airlines.

  3. I have mixed feelings on unions… That being said, this is what Unite HERE does. Pisses all over everything. They are, I have to imagine, one of the most poorly run, disorganized and generally terrible unions out there. They treat everyone, including their own members like garbage then blame management for the god awful environment they have created.
    I’ve seen this tactic before but in a restaurant inside a hotel which is really dumb because if you scare off the customers, there won’t be any work for the union members.
    My favorite, one day the hotel offered prime rib for the employees as a thank you for GS scores improvement. Although the hotel staffed the cafeteria the same way they always do, same number of people, they had managers take turns carving the prime rib for the employees as some sort of gesture of “thank you.” Lo and behold, grievance was filled because the union felt that this was taking jobs away from the employees.

    Guess who never got prime rib again?

    Companies need to remember, they don’t NEED to sign the contract or agree to the union’s demands. They are equally to blame for what happens.

  4. The caterer didn’t call the food disgusting; the union did. Sorry, but the headline bears no relation to the story

  5. As a result of this post, I am way more worried about the food safety practices at the airline catering company in queston (which already have a bad record with the FDA) ( than the low wage union workers and the extra cost to airlines.

    From the Forbes article you linked to:

    “Bobby Kirkpatrick, 55, has worked in the food kitchens at Charlotte Douglas International Airport for 37 years. He drives a truck that caters about eight to ten flights a day. Kirkpatrick’s annual salary in 2001 was about $36,000. His salary today is about $34,000.

    Workers in the Charlotte kitchen start at $8.20 an hour and top out after 20 years at $15.70 an hour.”

    I don’t think these wages are wildly extravagant unionized employees.

    Enough with the union-bashing agenda – get back to travel information.

  6. Gary,

    The restaurant in that photo is not Lam Zhou Homemade Noodle. I’m not sure what point you’re trying to make there.

  7. Amazing! Where were all these commentators last year (2015) when one day in July AA’s LAX catering operation just stopped working-no delivery or topping off? Not just my dinner flight in F to ORD, but I was told by flight crews that most other long hauls were hit-HON, DFW, etc.

    Despite immediately contacting AA’s HQ-up the chain-of-com-command, they were like lemmings-all totally oblivious; no excuses.

    What exacerbated the matter was the total ignorance evidenced by the gate agents, their supervisors, and the station management–despite knowing this predicament, no warning was given to passengers; no offer to provide chits to purchase food before boarding. Even just a heads-up and paying for your own foood would have been appreciated.

    Given the pathetic crap served in domestic F, why would anybody fly a US legacy carrier overseas? The hell with the miles; longer flights by connecting in Europe; whatever. Why would anybody who knows the difference not fly a premium carrier like Lufthansa, Iberia, etc?

    Between the games re food, seats, etc, it will become a swan song for these US carriers.

  8. I find This Article very much misleading and inaccurate at Best. There are ONLY a handful of Catering Companies in existence these Days that the Airlines contract the Service out to, so Limited Providers to begin with. And IF You are trying to imply that the LSG Kitchen that services American flights is the ONLY Area of the Commissary that has these problems You obviously have Bigger Issues than This Article suggests. This Blog gets More ridiculous Every Day and I am beginning to find most of what You report is bordering on Pure BS!

  9. All I can say is the last flight I had from Philly to San Diego the food was horrible!! What a waste of first class!

  10. The food is disgusting and it doesn’t take the caterer or anyone else to announce it in or out of premium cabins
    They have a severely damaged loyalty program poor reward seat availability (in saver ) bad mileage earnings and awful redemption rates if u can find a seat
    As well as unacceptable customer relations that is non existent unless it blows up in the media and then they may respond
    Doug Parker has slowly destroyed every aspect of what was once the first and best loyalty program in the world and a respectable airline not long ago
    There are so many reasons not to fly American unless the last resort like spirit
    And now to add to just another issue @ American shrinking seats and nickel and dime basic economy fares
    Avoid at all costs
    0 flights in 2017 is the way I have paid them back after 6 million miles earned and 20 years of loyalty
    How much have their cost cutting and gutting helped their way to long term profits ? You tell me

  11. Very good points. I have been loyal since my first flight on a 707 Astro Jet in F between ORD-Idlewild.
    AA was good even through bankruptcy; but now, no loyalty and just waiting for the other shoe to drop.
    Good reason to break-up hub fortresses to bring in better alternatives, e.g., Jet America, Virgin America, Alaska, etc.

  12. Spoiled lettuce? Flyers on AA should be lucky to get any sort of lettuce. Lam Zhou hand-pulled noodles would be vastly preferable on board. Plus they are hot, ergo less bacteria than spoiled lettuce.

  13. “Boy, the food at this place is really terrible.” The other one says, “Yeah, I know; and such small portions.” From a Woody Allen story.

    Imagine life for us in flyover country. The legacies now only fly to their hubs: e.g. Salt Lake City, Atlanta, DFW, etc. We get stuffed in an Embraer and shunted to a nasty crowded intervening airport, wait around for hours, and then get a flight to where we want to go…or very likely another hub airport: MSP or DTW.

    Not only do we get miserable service and nasty food, but we are often deprived of what is sometimes available because of one more arbitrary cost-cutting rule: e.g. no dinner after 8pm, ‘oh, we don’t make coffee on this flight.”

    The only time I want to fly is outside the US.

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