Two months ago American Airlines stopped using Gate Gourmet for catering at LAX when listeria was found at their facility. Delta and Virgin Australia followed within two weeks of American’s decision.
Initially there was very little food out of LAX for most flights (though a handful of long haul international — London, Shanghai, Sao Paulo, and Beijing — already had a different caterer, Air Fayre). LSG SkyChefs was added to the mix to cater more flights with a focus on long haul, New York JFK, Miami, and Hawaii service first. And Flying Food Group began catering Tokyo, Hong Kong, Sydney, and Auckland. Most domestic flights were double-catered in their origin city before flying to Los Angeles.
Gate Gourmet, while not providing food, still serviced American Airlines aircraft in Los Angeles. They took out the trash and boarded beverage carts.
American Airlines Terminal 4 LAX
Customers on flights without the expected catering were getting proactive apology emails and vouchers towards future travel.
Now American Airlines is bringing Gate Gourmet back for most domestic flights. My sense is that going cold turkey (sandwiches, hah) on Gate Gourmet was probably an overreaction in the first place. Reportedly “the listeria was not found on food-contact surfaces” — only in the floor drains (and there aren’t any reports of sickness). They’ve been clear for a month.
At the same time I’m confident American Airlines got an amazing deal to bring the caterer back after the issues they experienced.
Here’s the memo to employees on the return of Gate Gourmet at LAX:
LAX Catering Changes
January 4, 2018
As you may recall, as a preventive measure two months ago, we stopped using the services of one of our onboard caterers at LAX, Gate Gourmet. This abrupt change created a hardship for our crews, LAX-based team members and customers, and we appreciate everyone’s incredible patience as we worked through these challenges.
During this period, we have been working extensively with outside food safety experts to ensure that any re-entry to their kitchen at LAX maintained our highest food safety standards. We also enlisted the support of a third-party expert, who inspected and substantiated the safety of their facility.
We are pleased to share that through a phased approach, we will return to having Gate Gourmet cater the majority of our domestic operation from their LAX kitchen. The American team appreciates the extensive work by Gate Gourmet to remediate this issue.
American will continue to use the catering services of Air Fayre, Flying Food Group and LSG Sky Chefs for our Hawaii, international, regional and transcontinental flights.
Throughout this process, every decision we made was always focused on the safety of our customers and team members. While we know these changes have been difficult, we would like to sincerely thank all those who were impacted during these two months for their patience and understanding.
Interestingly they are dropping Flying Food Group (and with it the hoped-for alignment with Qantas and Japan Airlines catering on Pacific routes it seems) in mid-February.
Both Flying Food Group and Gate Gourmet Servicing an Aircraft at the Same Time in December
Here’s the full catering transition schedule:
Phase 1: January 5 – Gate Gourmet will provide full beverage service and modified meal service on:
• All morning originators
• All narrowbody international (Canada, Mexico, Caribbean) to domestic flights
• All long haul (LH) domestic (non-JFK/MIA-LAX) flights LAX to/from BDL, BOS, DCA, IAD, MBJ, MCO, PHL, RDU and YYZ
o We will continue to DP for the few days of service start-up as a precaution
Phase 2: January 10 – Gate Gourmet will also cater:
• All remaining domestic short haul (SH) and medium haul (MH) flights
• Full return to standard service plus pre-orders and special meals.
All remaining flights will continue to be catered, like today, as follows:
• Transcon, LAX-JFK/MIA flights – LSG
• LAX-Hawaii – LSG
• IPE, LAX- LHR (2), GRU, PVG and PEK – Air Fayre
• IPE, LAX-HND, NRT, SYD, AKL and HKG – Flying Food Group
• In mid-February, we will transition all widebody international flying permanently to Air Fayre