American Airlines Business Class Meal to Auckland: Sandwiches and Sodas
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
We found out Wednesday that American Airlines’ caterer Gate Gourmet found listeria at its Los Angeles (LAX) catering facility and that American Airlines immediately ceased catering from Gate Gourmet as a precaution. Obviously, this would affect catering on American Airlines flights from LAX.
After we published that initial story, a TPG reader emailed us about his and his wife’s experience on one of those flights without catering — and that experience was terrible, even for those in business class on one of American Airlines’ 13+ hour flights over the Pacific. To add insult to injury, American Airlines’ after-the-fact compensation offer has been slow in coming, and arguably insufficient.
Here’s what happened:
Reader Daniel and his wife booked an American Airlines business class AAnytime award (175,000 miles one-way each) from Miami (MIA) to Auckland, New Zealand (AKL) to celebrate their 10-year anniversary. Unfortunately for them, this trip took them through LAX on Wednesday — the day that American Airlines decided to pull the plug on Gate Gourmet catering.
Daniel reports that he got a call before he left MIA about the situation:
AA called me a few hours before the MIA flight to let me know that the caterer they used was fired and they won’t have first class meals but not to worry, I was going to be served economy meals. It was disappointing but it’s better than nothing.
Well, it wasn’t much better than nothing. As it turns out, no hot meals would make their way onboard. Meals were supposed to be flown in from Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW), but Daniel was told that those meals ended up on the wrong flight out of LAX. So, “the final decision they made was to send crew to buy as many sandwiches as possible at the terminal.”
Instead of at least going through the motions to serve these to the business class passengers, flight attendants set up a buffet in the galley from which passengers could serve themselves.
In addition to missing meals, Daniel and his wife also didn’t receive:
- Amenity kits. No explanation provided about their absence.
- Champagne or “any liquor at all. Only soft drinks, OJ, coffee and tea.”
Although Daniel doesn’t mention it, he and his wife probably didn’t get a great meal in LAX during their 5.5 hour layover. The American Airlines Terminal 4 Admirals Club lounge is closed, and they just missed the upcoming LAX Flagship Lounge that’s supposed to open by the end of 2017.
So, what is American Airlines doing to make up for this? Daniel asked the first agent who called about the situation what compensation they would receive. This agent said “that she is only calling to letting me know [about the situation] and that I will get another call from AA for compensation.”
When Daniel first contacted The Points Guy, that call still hadn’t come. Although the flight attendants were “exceptional and very apologetic,” no compensation was provided onboard, and Daniel reported that American Airlines still hadn’t contacted him about the situation.
We reached out to The Points Guy contacts at American Airlines. A spokesperson assured us that the airline is “following up with customers in the form of a voucher proactively” and that the airline will check on this case. AA wouldn’t disclose the amount that would be offered to Daniel and his wife, noting that the “voucher amount will vary on the flight.”
American Airlines also noted that not all international flights are affected by this catering issue, because it works with different LAX caterers for different international flights.
Now, Daniel has reported back that the voucher has come. What’s AA’s offer for failing to provide hot food, alcohol and an amenity kit for a 13+ hour flight in business class on an AAnytime award? $100 each.
American Airlines may have been a little rash to halt Gate Gourmet catering. Reports indicate that AA was the only airline that uses Gate Gourmet in LAX to suspend its catering. A “half dozen other carriers continued to take food deliveries from the kitchen” as the listeria wasn’t found on food preparation surfaces. American Airlines defends its decision as being “out of an abundance of caution.”
Regardless, service failures are inevitable. What’s telling about an airline is how they handle these failures. American Airlines scores points for calling ahead of the flight to alert Daniel about the situation, but the airline has utterly failed since. Daniel wasn’t immediately contacted by American Airlines — even though the airline says that it’s proactively reaching out. And the airline’s compensation offer of $100 each is downright insulting.
Update 11/4 4:02pm: American Airlines has re-connected with Daniel to apologize and explain the LAX catering situation. The agent confirmed that the amenity kits and the alcohol are also provided by the catering company, which is why these were missing as well. The standard catering compensation has been increased to $200 per business class passenger. However, since Daniel and his wife had an especially poor experience, American Airlines is giving them a $300 voucher each.
What do you think the proper compensation should be for this flight?
All images unless otherwise noted are by TPG reader Daniel N.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.
With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
- Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
- Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
- Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
- Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
- Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
- Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
- Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
- Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
- Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $250 Annual Fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees