Much was made last week about forthcoming meal window tweaks at American Airlines. VFTW noted last week that on September 1, American and US Airways will align domestic first class service, including “…tray elements, food components, and meal cutoff times.” Back in April the airlines went to a 1,000 nautical mile standard for meal services.
There’s a bit of mistrust among American elites when it comes to the new team running American. They look at US Airways as the example of what the new American will become. While I’m not one to believe every word uttered from management (in spite of the kool aid I consume), I tend to believe that the new management team is well aware that the combined airline is going to be a different story than what they were running at US Airways. It’s a different customer set, different expectations, different revenue mix. Frankly, I think the fact that US Airways is still flying should be a testament to their mettle. They did what they had to do with what they had to work with and turned it into something profitable. With that, some of the worried comments about this in the forums could be expected.
As an ex-airline guy, it’s easy for me to poke fun at airline catering and the interest in it. That said, I do care about meals, and specifically issues related to American, an airline I once called home. My domestic short-haul habits (meals matter a lot less) aside, sometimes it’s nice to know you will have a meal waiting for you on the airplane. Time doesn’t always allow for picking something up in the airport, and a relatively decent meal in first class is a real differentiator for American. Another thing I like about American’s catering – the ramekin of warm mixed nuts, which unless it’s changed (I’m sure someone will chime in if it has), you even get on non meal flights in first. Little things like that show that an airline cares about its premium customers, and maintaining as much of the current AA way on meal services/times in domestic first is one reason I am strongly in favor of keeping American’s current upgrade system when the two airlines merge.
I’m the first to say that American could use a little tweaking in its business practices, and perhaps a few tweaks to the catering exercise are in order. Nonetheless, meals do matter, serve as a product differentiator, and are appreciated by frequent fliers. On meAAls – I care.
-MJ, June 10, 2014