American Airlines will be allowing passengers in business and first class on select routes to book their meals in advance, increasing the odds that they actually get their choice when flying. The initial markets are very limited – between Dallas and LaGuardia or JFK and Los Angeles – but the company expects to expand the offering over time as they work out the kinks in the system. Starting 30 days in advance of a trip and until 24 hours prior to departure passengers on AA-operated, AA-marketed flights will be able to log in to the reservation on their account and choose from the menu options available.
Looking at an upcoming JFK-LAX reservation in business class I see the following on the page below the flight details:
Select the flight and I have the option to choose one of two regular entrees:
There are also five diet-specific options available:
Putting aside that it is all just airline food, it is nice to see the option to choose in advance. While I generally don’t mind either choice I definitely have instance where one is quite undesirable (I ‘d hate the Reuben here, for example) and having a very good chance of not being stuck with that, regardless of seat assignment or elite status level is quite nice. Of course, this all depends on the company being able to deliver on the service. Maybe they’ll be using their new in-flight touchpads to keep track of these things.
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I give AA credit for admitting that on domestic flights there is no MOML (Muslim Meal) and that they just substitute the VGML instead. Delta (and I assume other airlines) do the same thing but are not as open about it.
This may also allow the airline to carry less food and thereby save fuel, as they don’t need to add x number of this and y number of that to give passengers more freedom of choice. It may also lessen catering costs, although I imagine the bigger savings is in the transport of food rather than the catering orders.
Ted – Does AA over-cater for domestic flights? I didn’t think they did so I’m not sure the savings would be recognized there.
I can’t say for sure, but I’ve often been the last person to have their order taken and almost always get what I want. I’m sure they’re really good at predicting the right ratio of entree choices to order, but given how few people sit in F and C on any given plane, they’ve almost gotten it too good if they’re not over-catering by just a little.
I remember one time when I was the first person to order, and I ordered “whatever’s left after you take everyone else’s order,” the FA looked at me as though I had two heads. I only speak from personal experience, not as an industry insider.
I can also say that I’ve noticed AA do things like thinning their napkins, presumably in the name of weight savings. I can imagine that one eliminated entree is worth quite a few napkins.
I think that they might over-cater the transcons with the extras being crew meals but otherwise not likely. I do think that this works for making more passengers happy about the catering. The logistics of constantly changing the quantities on the caterers are not to be underestimated. This will be interesting to watch play out.
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