An upgrade from pretzels and peanuts.

By Mike Pomranz
Updated April 17, 2019
american airline economy meal
Credit: © American Airline

Is the glamour of eating mediocre airplane food while crammed into a tiny economy class seat coming back? You bet it might be! About a month after Delta announced it was bringing back meals to economy on some cross-country domestic flights between twelve markets, American Airlines has also concluded that customers on a couple of its routes between New York and California might be hungry enough during a six-hour flight to warrant a small boxed meal – even in coach.

Starting May 1, American will once again offer free meals to all customers on flights in both directions between New York’s JFK airport and Los Angeles or San Francisco. “Some of our best customers fly our trans-continental routes and we want to give them a top-notch onboard experience,” Fernand Fernandez, American’s Vice President of Global Marketing, said in a statement. “Providing complimentary meals in the Main Cabin is yet another step we’re taking to enhance our service in this competitive market.”

So what kind of meal will American’s “best customers” get? “Depending on the time of day, customers will be offered a continental breakfast or a boxed meal with a sandwich wrap, kettle chips and dessert,” the airline writes. “The menu also includes a vegetarian option and a fruit and cheese plate.” Though it might now sound extravagant, to be fair, kettle chips are the classiest of potato chips… unless, of course, you are a diehard proponent of ruffled chips. But it’s not American’s job to get involved in your petty potato chip debate; not when they’re busy restoring dignity to the skies.

According to USA Today, the move comes in the wake of increased competition between airlines flying lucrative non-stop coast-to-coast routes. However, outside the free marketing from announcing the return of meals on these flights, I’d be interesting in finding out just how many economy flyers are choosing which airline to book because they suddenly remembered that American now offers meal service on non-stop flights between New York and Los Angeles. That said, I guess if you do find yourself getting a free meal in coach on a domestic flight, you might be so shocked that the memory sticks with you for a lifetime. Then next time you are scouring for the best price on Orbitz, you may subconsciously be thinking, “I like American. They gave me kettle chips. It’s no ruffles, but still…”