Well, American made official what many have been talking about for a little while now, they are making some changes to their meal policies come September 1, 2014. The text of the email I received from American reads as follows:

“We’re creating a consistent experience when traveling in First Class on American and US Airways. Effective September 1, 2014, we will be making changes to our First Class meal service on mainline flights within the U.S., Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. Although we’re making updates to our meal offerings, we will continue to offer the unique extras on meal flights that are distinctly American like our popular warm mixed nuts, warm cookies, and premium desserts. Here’s more on what’s changing:

We’re adjusting the times we serve meals and improving product offerings, while preserving the signature elements that have set American Airlines meal service apart over the years.

    • On flights less than approximately 1 hour, we will provide a packaged snack.
    • On flights approximately 1 to 2 hours, we will provide a snack basket which contains a variety of sweet and savory snack options.
    • On flights approximately 2 to 2 hours and 45 minutes, we will offer our Lite Bites snack basket, which includes fresh fruit, breakfast breads or sandwiches, packaged snacks and more.
    • On flights more than approximately 2 hours and 45 minutes between 5:00 a.m. ‑ 8:00 p.m., a choice of full meals will be served. We will continue to provide meal service on some of our most popular flights that are less than 2 hours and 45 minutes like Dallas/Fort Worth to Chicago O’Hare and Chicago O’Hare to New York’s LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy airports.

We’re also expanding our meal service on longer flights to provide you with a complete dining experience. For flights approximately 3 hours and 30 minutes to 4 hours and 30 minutes, an appetizer will be paired with your choice of entrée. For flights approximately 4 hours and 30 minutes and longer, your meal will also include your choice of one of our signature desserts, as well as a selection of pre-arrival snacks. We will also maintain our existing First and Business Class premium meal service aboard our three-class A321 Transcontinental aircraft ‑ flying on all routes between John F. Kennedy airport to Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Learn more about our First Class meal service.

What’s next?

Later this year, we’ll introduce new meals and amenity kits on international flights to offer a seamless travel experience across our combined network.

Continue to check aa.com/arriving for updates on our progress.

Thank you for flying with us.”

MJ Thinks

Well, wouldn’t you know it? I manage to snag an F seat on an AA A319 from DFW to ATL next month, just after they eliminate dinner on the flight. I can’t pretend that matters to me, as I will have eaten on the longer flight from SEA to DFW, and will have time to drop by the Centurion Lounge at DFW during the layover, but I know some are disappointed. The only other route where I might be impacted from time to time is DCA-MIA. I know markets and competition have evolved since my days at an airline, but I’m a tiny bit surprised that DCA-MIA did not make the cut for a meal exception. Other than that, I’m indifferent to these changes. They’re a vast improvement for former US Airways customers, and a disappointment for some legacy AA customers on some routes.

Look for a bit of vocalization from some circles. While I hate to think that the differentiator in the airline business has become not being as bad as United, I think the new meal policy certainly exceeds United on the mainly domestic routes I fly, and might even exceed Delta. In fact, since Delta does not offer the ever-popular ramekin of warm mixed nuts, put me in the camp that AA’s meal/snack presentation exceeds that of Delta in the domestic F cabin.

What you won’t hear from me is anything along the lines of “I knew it!! That Parker is turning AA into US.” There was a bit of trimming to do around the edges at American. While the bankruptcy case took care of the big items, I expect there was, and still is some trimming to do here and there. Assuming no further changes to the meal offerings, I think AA is still competitive with their domestic brethren. I’m a lot more interested in what happens to AAdvantage than I am a cookie on a 2 hour flight, but that’s just me. YMMV.

-MJ, August 4, 2014