American Airlines now uses brown paper bags to hand out food to passengers in coach on international Boeing 757 aircraft and they’re looking at using them more broadly, too.
Years ago American Airlines used to give out food to coach passengers in bags as they boarded the aircraft. It was a little awkward for someone with a rollaboard and a laptop bag or purse, picking up the food and managing to make it to their seat, juggling bags and food as they got settled.
The quality of what was in the bag varied over time, in the 90s you might have gotten a chicken sandwich with cheddar, lettuce and tomato along with a bag of chips and a cookie. At one point American Airlines did a deal with America Online to include their startup CDs in the bistro bags. Airline passengers, of course, are a desirable demographic to advertise to.
One of the kinder things that was said about the bistro bags by around 2003 or 2004 was “beastly bags” — and of course the same bag that contained food soon doubled as an air sickness bag.
Bistro bags were initially eliminated from flights under 3 hours, and then free meals in coach on American officially ended February 1, 2005. Now they’re back for second service on overnight 757 flights, but use may spread.