American Airlines Cuts Soup & Buffets From Lounges

In order to curb coronavirus transmission, American Airlines will make specific cuts to its lounge catering service from tomorrow- Monday 16th March. The decision comes in light of increased efforts across the globe to prevent additional viral infections. American Airlines’ tactic for its foodservice will now be to individually wrap most items and that, of course, presents another issue.

AA flight
American is updating its inflight and lounge foodservice. Photo: Getty Images

Buffet limited and food selection altered

Tomorrow, American Airlines will go ahead with a new strategy to keep passengers safe amid the current health crisis. These changes will apply to the Admirals Club and Flagship Lounges. Passengers will also notice a different catering service inflight.

In a statement on its website, the airline said on 13th March:

“American Airlines will change food and beverage service procedures in our Admirals Club lounges, Flagship Lounges and aboard our aircraft to provide even more peace of mind for customers. Effective Monday, March 16, American will replace buffet-style food service with individually portioned, covered food items and will shift most self-service beverages to individually portioned service, such as milk cartons or bartender/wait staff service.”

American Airlines had previously boasted a healthy selection of breakfast, lunch and drink options which will now have to change. On a normal day in the Admirals Club Lounge, American Airlines would provide fresh bagels and breads for breakfast, hearty soups and vegetables with dips for lunch, and coffees made by baristas. That will now change.

Instead, passengers will be able to choose from individually wrapped, pre-packaged foods such as oatmeal in a sachet. There will no longer be soup nor snack dispensers or jugs of milk. The airline has even gone as far as individually wrap apples to ensure optimal hygiene.

Admirals Club Food Buffet
All open food will now be covered. Photo: American Airlines

Is this smart or extreme precaution?

There’s no doubt that American’s approach is quite drastic, yet it’s what is needed at this time. There is no such thing as overcautious when it comes to protecting the well-being of passengers. American Airline’s approach is sensible and it has created a system that ensures the least possible contamination since most food products will be wrapped.

American is also not alone on this approach at least. Whilst other airlines have taken to merely increasing the amount of cleaning they do and the chemical-grade by which they do it, buffets in hotels and restaurants are also seeing closure. If other airlines are not doing the same right now, it probably won’t be too long until they follow suit.

Man at Admirals Club lounge buffet
American’s approach is sensible in the current climate. Photo: American Airlines

Of course, in terms of spreading disease, American’s new policy is a strong step in the right direction. However, it does present a few problems.

The impact of change

It surely hasn’t escaped anyone’s notice that individually wrapping and pre-packaging food is a death sentence during the present climate emergency. Excess waste will no doubt have a dire impact on the sustainable operations that American Airlines is encouraging. However, at this present moment in time, there is unfortunately not much that can be done in that regard.

The new system could also present issues for American’s financials. The environmental benefits of using reusable utensils and the like also have a financial impact. Investing in reusable items is a much more sustainable way of providing a continued service. Since American is forgoing items like glasses and replacing them with plastic throwaway alternatives, it will need to continually restock for the duration of these cautious measures.

Whilst the financial impact of this might seem minimal, it does add up and counts for something at a time when the airline is struggling due to a significant travel slump.

That said, American is clearly leading the way with its foodservice strategy.

Do you agree with American Airlines’ approach? Have your say in the comments.