American Airlines’ First-Class Regional Breakfast Contains 70+ Grams of Sugar

Dec 2, 2016

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Last week, I took an early-morning flight from Charleston, South Carolina (CHS) to Dallas (DFW) on a regional Embraer ERJ-175LR American Airlines jet operated by Envoy. Although there was plenty of first-class space, upgrades weren’t processed until four hours before the flight. Thankfully though, this was at least enough of a heads-up to know that I’d be getting a meal on board, so I wouldn’t have to eat before the flight.

A surprisingly-good lunch from another American Airlines regional flight.
A surprisingly good lunch from another American Airlines regional flight.

According to a couple of flight attendants I asked, while these jets can service an onboard heating element, American didn’t elect to install ovens on these regional jets. That said, I’ve had some surprisingly good lunches and dinners on past first-class regional flights. So, I was interested to see what was on offer for breakfast.

When breakfast was served, I was initially struck by the number of packaged items. However, at first glance it looked rather healthy; there are fruits, low-fat milk, low-fat granola, “FlyFit” yogurt and a tasty cinnamon roll for dessert.

American Airlines cold "shelf stable" breakfast.
American Airlines’ cold first-class breakfast.

As I’m on a low-sugar diet, I turned to the nutritional labels. That’s when the issue came to light:

  • Granola: 18 grams of sugar
  • Yogurt: 14.2 grams of sugar
  • Banana: 14 grams of sugar (sugar content for a medium banana)
  • Milk: 12 grams of sugar
  • Grapes: 4 grams of sugar (sugar content for 10 grapes)
  • Crackers: 0.2 grams of sugar
  • Cheese: 0.1 grams of sugar
  • Cinnamon roll: unknown

Even before we added the roll, the subtotal is already 62.5 grams of sugar. Considering how sweet it tasted (after all, I had to take a bite for research), the cinnamon roll conservatively puts the total over 70 grams — although the total is likely closer to 75 grams of sugar. And that’s just the food; if you add a cup of orange juice, your total quickly approached 100 grams. That’s a ton of sugar to start your day off.

The good news is that if you skip the roll and the granola, most of the sugar in the meal would be considered by the FDA as “naturally occurring sugars” — rather than “added sugars” now targeted by the FDA.

Coming soon to a first class cabin near you?
Coming soon to a first-class cabin near you? Image courtesy of American Airlines.

Since we have seen plenty from American Airlines about improving its first/business-class meals, we reached out to AA about this meal. While we know that it’s impossible to have meals that fit everyone’s diet and taste, we wanted to ask about the amount of sugar in these meals and check if improvements were going to be made. The good news is that, yes, AA is working on improving breakfast meals on these regional jets, although there’s no guarantee that they’ll have less sugar. According to a spokesperson:

We’re working to refresh our regional menu offerings in spring 2017. As with all of our menus, we’re consistently evaluating how we can update our food offerings while providing the highest quality, most nutritional and tasteful meals that our customers will enjoy.

Bottom Line

If you’re on a low-sugar diet, you’re going to want to make other breakfast plans when flying first class on American Airlines regional jets — at least until AA refreshes its menu in the spring. Hopefully then AA will add some less-sugary options to breakfast onboard regional jets.

Featured image courtesy of American Airlines.

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