Airline News

American Airlines scales back on food and service to curb COVID-19

American Airlines scales back on food and service to curb COVID-19

American Airlines seating
The new changes address social distancing requirements. Photo courtesy of American Airlines

Fort Worth-based American Airlines has initiated some temporary changes in its food service offerings, in response to COVID-19, including scaling back on-board food and beverage service, and the closure of Admirals Club lounges.

They've also suspended checked pets.

A release says that these changes help to reduce flight attendant-customer interaction and maximize space between customers on aircraft.

Reduced food and beverage service
American will offer limited food and beverage options from March 27 through April 30. The reduced service will be based on flight length and destination, as follows:

For flights shorter than 2,200 miles (typically less than 4 1/2 hours):

  • Alcohol will not be available in Main Cabin. Alcohol will be available on request in first class.
  • Beverages available on request and limited to water, canned beverages or juice.
  • No snacks or food for purchase will be served.
  • Meals will not be offered in first class.

For all flights longer than 2,200 miles (typically more than 4 1/2 hours), including transcontinental and flights to Hawaii:

  • Alcohol will not be served in Main Cabin and Main Cabin Extra except on long-haul international flights. Alcohol will be available in first class.
  • Other Main Cabin beverages will be served as usual.
  • No snacks or food for purchase will be served. Main Cabin meals will be served on long-haul international flights.
  • First and business class meals will be served on one tray versus in courses.

American will also suspend predeparture beverage service on all flights.

"Our flight attendants spend the most time with our customers and play a critical role in ensuring the safety and well-being of our customers," said Jill Surdek, Senior Vice President of Flight Service. "As a result of working with our flight attendant team and the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, we are taking these necessary steps today and will continue to update our policies in response to guidance from the CDC."

Full service will resume once COVID-19 has stabilized. The airline plans to make bottled water and snacks available at the gate in the near future.

Admirals Club lounges
American will temporarily close most Admirals Club lounges, but will maintain front desk customer service at large U.S. airports and at London’s Heathrow Airport. These changes go into effect beginning Thursday, March 26.

Team members working at the locations below will be available to offer travel assistance. To reduce large gatherings, lounge services — including all food and beverage offerings, restrooms and shower facilities — will be temporarily suspended.

  • Charlotte, North Carolina (CLT), Concourse C
  • Chicago (ORD), Concourse H/K
  • Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW), Terminals A, C and D
  • London Heathrow (LHR), Terminal 3
  • Los Angeles (LAX), Terminal 4
  • Miami (MIA), Gate D30
  • New York (JFK), Gate 12 (Flagship Lounge with temporary Admirals Club service)
  • New York (LGA), Concourse D
  • Philadelphia (PHL), Terminal B/C
  • Phoenix (PHX), Gate A7 and Gate A19
  • Washington (DCA), Terminal C

Kurt Stache, Senior Vice President of Customer Experience says in a statement that "as the travel mandates abate and the COVID-19 crisis subsides, we will explore how to manage annual membership benefits for impacted customers — including for those with a membership through the Citi / AAdvantage Executive card. We look forward to welcoming back our loyal members soon."

Seating policies
In response to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) social distancing guidelines, American will temporarily relax seating policies for customers on most flights and reduce onboard food and beverage service levels.

To encourage social distancing, American will  block 50 percent of all middle seats and all seats adjacent to Flight Attendant jump seats on every flight.

Gate agents and flight attendants will be able to proactively reassign seats to create more space between customers beginning March 24. Once on board — provided there aren’t any aircraft weight or balance restrictions — customers can move to another seat within their ticketed cabin subject to availability.

Checked pet service
Because schedule changes increase the risk of stranded pets, all checked pet service will be suspended beginning March 25. Carry-on pets and service and support animals are still permitted, as long as they comply with existing requirements. American Airlines Cargo will also still accept pets for transport, but with additional restrictions.

American is closely monitoring government policy changes, CDC guidelines, government mandates and customer demand, and we will continue to make changes as necessary.