Last weekend I did a crazy mileage run by myself from Denver, CO to Anchorage, AK. Did I mention I did this through connections in LGA on the outbound and BOS on the return? Yeah, not for the feint of heart. I saw many other FTers and bloggers on the DFW-ANC and return flights as well, so at least I know I’m not that crazy! These flights were my first on AA since the September 1st meal updates occurred. I’m not going to bore with details, but due to AA/US’ ridiculously slow merger and the fact they have chosen not to combine EQMs in 2014, I found myself crediting all these flights to US for the rest of the year. That represented a problem as no complimentary upgrade for me. Since I am Executive Platinum (and US Gold for now) and this was a long combined AA/US trip, I decided to utilize my eVIP upgrades for both directions. I booked this trip and upgraded back in July of this year, before the meal changes were announced. When pre-ordering my meals on AA.com I noticed that the ANC-DFW segment had no option to select. That obviously meant no meal and I’d have to make due with the wonderful snack basket. Now, this flight was scheduled to leave ANC at 8:45p, so there’s a certain logic behind it. However, this flight is also SIX HOURS long. So, with that being said here is what was offered to me from the ‘Lite Bites’ portion of the snack basket:
Looks kind of like a sandwich from a vending machine, doesn’t it? Well, it only got better from there. Notice how large the packaging is? The actual ‘sandwich’ was a square. I’m guessing these were catered in DFW and brought up to ANC on the inbound. Why? The break was soggy from the sauce and yet still seemed stale. This is what the Dougie Deluxe sandwich had inside:
Yup, that’s it folks! It tasted as bad as it looks. When the flight attendant offered this to me I asked why is AA serving vending machine sandwiches on a SIX HOUR flight, regardless of departure time. She felt embarrassed, shook her head, and shrugged. I feel bad for a front line employee having serve this and deal with the complaints from customers. It should be the VP of inflight and the catering managers serving up this stuff! That being said, all was not lost. Remember when I said his was a SIX HOUR flight? Long, but not that long. Well, the flight attendants (and I assume it’s by the book, so not their fault) started serving the arrival meal 90 minutes prior to landing in DFW. To me, it was really poor timing on such a ‘short’ flight. I say that because the pre-arrival meal was actually decent. It was granola, milk, and fruit on a proper tray with dishes, so it was an actual service that required people to turn on reading lights, make noises with the flatware and dishes, etc. In my opinion this should have been more of an express service 45 minutes prior to landing, but that’s just me. Sorry, I didn’t get a picture due to being woken up 2 hours after I fell to sleep and being in a zombie state.
The other flight I will comment on is my PHL-PHX sector on US. I upgraded this flight due to status with US. It was very shocking because I know there were a ton of elites on the flight. The options for this flight were veggie lasagna or chicken with rice and sauce. By the time the attendant got to my row chicken was all that was left, which is what I would have ordered anyways. Cold nuts in a ramekin and drinks were brought out first as usual, then the mains. Here is the presentation:
The chicken was pretty dry and bland. The appetizer was a slice beef on top of a crostini, and it was AWESOME! Notice how the dessert came at the same time. From what I understand, that is not supposed to be the case, it should be its own course. On this trip I got to sample 4 of the new meals (5 if you count the pre-arrival) and the nasty Lite Bites. On the lunch and dinner flights on the way to ANC the dessert was separate. Chalk it up to a lazy flight attendant (I also had to ring the call button for drinks, something I hate to do) on PHL-PHX. Having said that, I can generalize pretty well that the new main courses have taken a severe nosedive. Every one of them was bland. The appetizers are GREAt though, AA/US really did a good job on those and hopefully they can carry that over to the mains.
So all that being said, I did complain to AA on Twitter (along with the above pic) and received a generically sad apology:
Not unexpected, though no mention of following up with the relevant department. I also fired off a letter to AA customer relations, and this was the slightly modified form letter response I received:
Thank you for contacting American. We know that meal options are important to our customers, and we appreciate the opportunity to address your comments about the changes we have made to our First Class meal program.
As you have noted, a component of these changes is to make consistent between American and US Airways the length of flight where a full meal service is offered. Effective September 1, traditional meal service is offered in First Class on flights operated by American that are 2:45 or longer with some exceptions for overnight flights. While this has removed the traditional meal service from some markets served by American, the changes implemented at US Airways earlier this year added meals to many US Airways markets that traditionally have not offered a full meal service.
Still, I acknowledge your perception of the Lite Bites basket options that you were offered on your flight between Anchorage and DFW on Sunday. I have shared your feedback with our Catering managers.
Thank you again for giving us the value of your opinion, Mr. Bradley. We appreciate your business very much and hope to have the opportunity to welcome you aboard again soon.
Bolding mine. At least she acknowledged my core complaint, despite rambling on about US Airways flights that have no business in this letter. I don’t care what happened to US, did not even mention US in my letter, I care about the downgrades at AA. Anyways, that’s my perception of meals at the new AA. Maybe I’m being too harsh who knows? But nothing will change if no one says anything. Further to that point, I am hearing rumors from AA flight attendants and FT that AA will be making some modifications to the meals due to overwhelming feedback received thus far. So let’s hope we are getting our voices heard, keep firing off valid complaints! Fly Classy everyone.