Many airlines had undertaken inflight service cuts in order to combat the spread of COVID-19. Early in the crisis, a number of airlines eliminated hot towel service and inflight meals. Eventually, this carried over to the elimination of packaged snacks for some carriers. However, in a small light at the end of the tunnel, it seems American Airlines will be re-introducing some inflight service for its first class passengers. However, it might not be enough to satisfy its highest-paying customer base.
Bringing back service while limiting touchpoints
According to View From The Wing, American Airlines is testing a snack box for its first class passengers – one that doesn’t require preparation by flight attendants. The following message went out to cabin crew on certain flights this past Tuesday:
We want to turn our attention to ways to bring back the service both you and our customers have come to expect while continuing to limit the number of touchpoints and provide social distancing…On your flight today, we will be testing an expanded snack offering for our First Class customers. This will be in addition to the snack bag already provided for the full aircraft.
With that being said, this ‘expanded snack offering’ for first class customers comes in the form of a snack box. Within this new ‘mix and munch’ box, you’ll find the following:
- Wheat Thins
- Gouda cheese spread
- Milano cookies
- and a Purell wipe
You’ll find these first class test snack boxes out of American’s hubs for both outbound and return flight segments. Customers will receive one bag per first class seat, laid out prior to boarding to limit interaction. Then, prior to departure, snack boxes on empty seats are removed.
While some passengers see this as a step in the right direction considering the huge cuts made previously, many are still accusing the airline of ‘cheapness’. Others called it ‘disgusting’ and ‘pathetic’. This certainly wouldn’t feel like much of an improvement for those accustomed to hot meals on their domestic first class flights. These are the types of options this cabin would receive prior to COVID-19, as reported by The Points Guy:
- 700-899 miles: Warm mixed nuts and a plated snack such as fruit and cheese or hummus and pita. A warm cookie is also served on most flights.
- 900-1,298 miles: Warm mixed nuts followed by a three-course meal, including a warm cookie for dessert.
- 1,299+ miles: An appetizer paired with your entree and dessert. On flights over 2,200 miles and 4.5 hours, passengers receive a choice of dessert as well.
It’s understandable why first class passengers might not be too receptive to this new change considering how it’s so much more basic than inflight meal/snack service before this pandemic.
Of course, with this invisible threat, safety to flight attendants and passengers is paramount, and American Airlines is trying to find a suitable compromise for its most premium passengers.
Do you think hot meals can be distributed with acceptably low levels of risk? Or are snack boxes the best way to go? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.