American scales back inflight catering as part of ongoing coronavirus response

May 1, 2020

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If you must travel domestically on American Airlines in the coming weeks, you might want to pack a lunch.

(Also, consider postponing your trip if it’s not related to essential work.)

Starting Friday (May 1), AA will implement a significant reduction in its inflight food and beverage service in an effort to reduce the risk of onboard COVID-19 transmission.

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On flights of less than 900 miles — typically less than 2.5 hours, according to the airline — the carrier will serve water, canned beverages and juice by request.

On flights between 900 and 2,200 miles, which American said are typically shorter than 4.5 hours, customers will be offered snack bags, including a bottle of water as they board. However, there will be no snacks or food for purchase during the flight. Snacks will only be distributed on mainline flights, so American Eagle passengers will need to bring their own provisions. Meals won’t be available in first class, either. Water, canned beverages and juice will be provided to economy passengers on request. Alcohol will be available only in first class, also by request.

Related: American Eagle fleet adjustments will mean fewer cramped regional jets.

American also is even scaling back on its longest flights, those over 2,000 miles. This includes transcons, flights between the mainland and Hawaii and on the few international long-haul flights American is still flying. Snacks and food for purchase will still not be available in the main cabin. Non-alcoholic beverages will be served as usual, as will snacks like Biscoff cookies or pretzels. Complimentary meals will be provided to economy passengers on international long-haul flights. Alcohol will also be available, by request, on flights with meal service.  

In first and business class on the longer flights, alcohol will be served, as will meals. But service will be pared back to a single tray, rather than a multi-course meal.

Related: American Airlines’ Boeing 767s, 757s among 80 planes that won’t fly again after the pandemic.

The changes come as airlines continue to field test best practices for inflight service and protocols during the coronavirus pandemic. This week, most major U.S. carriers announced that they would soon require passengers to wear masks while onboard. American has also recently modified its boarding procedures, closed a number of Admirals Clubs, and temporarily ended checked pet service.

Featured photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy.

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