American Airlines introduced domestic first class pre-order meals five years ago this month.
It’s not like ‘book the cook’ where you get to pre-order from a large selection of items and they’ll have it onboard for you. Instead you just get to choose from the options that’ll otherwise be onboard. However you can ensure you’ll get your first choice, at least when flight attendants pay attention to pre-orders and don’t give away your choice to someone else.
American is improving the feature. Starting November 8 they aren’t just going to let you choose from the two onboard options on meal flights going forward. If you pre-order you will have a third option to pick from, that won’t otherwise be available onboard: a fruit and cheese plate.
The Forward Cabin shared an internal communication about the change that struck me funny for a couple of reasons.
American’s introduction to the change here is interesting.
American notes they’re the only airline offering first class pre-order meals. That’s no longer true, since Alaska AIrlines introduced the feature and Delta has announced plans for pre-order as well. American was first with this, and it’s good for the airline and for customers getting their first choice selection. But let’s not overclaim. Especially since Alaska offers the fruit and cheese option too.
They also note that customers don’t always like the choices American offers. However it’s not that customers simply want something light (although that may be true) the customers don’t like the choices in American Airlines domestic first class because they are bad.
Indeed American Airlines domestic meals are much worse than Virgin America’s. They’re worse than Delta’s. They’re even marginally worse than United’s.
I usually skip meals onboard flying American. I eat before or after. That way I not only avoid the food, but avoid how long it takes for flight attendants to come pick up the tray once I’m done. The length of time between finishing a meal and tray pickup is especially frustrating on aircraft without inflight entertainment since I can’t put my laptop back on the track in any non-contorted fashion (let alone not being able to work).
Nonetheless, I appreciate another option. Fruit and cheese will be inoffensive, even if the fruit and cheese provided isn’t especially good. It’ll be more quickly finished than other meals though which means even more of a wait for pickup.