American Airlines announced Monday that it would be reintroducing catering services on domestic flights in stages. From May 1st, full complimentary beverage service will return to the premium cabin, while main cabin passengers will need to wait until June 1st. The airline says it consulted both flight attendants and medical experts before making its decision.
Gradual reintroduction over summer
One year ago, one airline after the other began minimizing their onboard catering options. Now we are beginning to see such measures reverse where passengers are returning to the skies.
As inoculation programs progress and domestic travel in the US has begun to rebound in earnest, American Airlines will gradually reintroduce its catering services. Starting May 1st, full complimentary beverage service including alcohol, canned drinks, juice, and water will be available in the carrier’s domestic premium cabin.
One month later, on June 1st, complimentary beverage service, including canned drinks, juice, and water, will begin in the main cabin. Alcoholic beverage options along with American’s buy-on-board food program will return later on in the summer, although the airline is yet to announce a specific date.
Careful and informed process
Bringing back in-flight beverage and meal offerings is not something it is taking lightly, American Airlines says.
“American’s reintroduction of beverage service is a careful and informed process to ensure everyone on board feels safe and comfortable,” said Brady Byrnes, Vice President of Flight Service, in a statement.
“We worked closely with the union that represents our flight attendants, the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, and medical experts on this process. Through our partnership, we collectively determined that the timing is right to bring back this service, and we can do so while continuing to give customers peace of mind,” Mr Byrnes further stated.
The carrier will continue to take feedback from cabin crew and customers into account as it brings back Biscoffs, beverages, and other food items. Passengers will still be required to wear face masks throughout the flight, only to remove them briefly while drinking or eating.
A big upgrade from the current state-of-play
Currently, on flights under 900 miles, American offers water, canned drinks, and juice by request only and no snacks, food, or alcohol in the main cabin. Alcoholic beverages are available in the premium cabin by request only.
Flights between 900 and 2,199 miles or up to 4.5 hours provide passengers in all cabins with complimentary pretzels or Biscoff cookies and bottled water. In the main cabin, non-alcoholic drinks are by request only, whereas the same is true for alcoholic drinks in first.
However, not even domestic flights over 4.5 hours have any food service in the main cabin, nor are there any snacks for purchase. Alchohol and meals are reserved for international routes. Thus, having access to buy-on-board, and the occasional tipple, will be a big upgrade for the medium-haul domestic AA economy passenger.