There’s been quite a bit of back and forth on American’s meal changes that went into effect September 1. The overwhelming majority of what I’ve read online has been negative, not only about changing meal windows, but the quality of the meals themselves. For these reasons alone, I was looking forward to my first flights on AA in a while. Best of all, one of my flights was scheduled for lunch. I pre-ordered the new beef dish.
I knew we would have a good flight when the flight attendant was greeting passengers by taking their pre-departure beverage order. PDBs are something that I have found American to be institutionally unable to accomplish on a consistent basis. When the customer behind me asked what his options were, the reply was something to the effect of “I don’t have a blender, otherwise we’re good.” That made me smile. I was even more impressed that this flight attendant managed to accomplish a full PDB even with our late (and rushed) boarding. Soon enough, boarding was over, and our old-school 737-800 departed the gate in Seattle bound for DFW.
Beverage orders were taken soon after takeoff. I was so happy to reunite with my old friend. No, not the wine! The warm mixed nuts.
Flying Delta a lot has some advantages, but I miss these! The pace of service was just about perfect. There was time for refills, and offers of more mixed nuts which I somehow managed to turn down. And then, it was time for the main event.
Let’s start with the good. The salad was fresh and tasty. I’m a big fan of the pretzel roll. The chicken appetizer was excellent. Really, that and a slightly larger salad would have made for a nice enough lunch. However, after hearing so much about the main course, I had to try it. The verdict – it tasted better than it looked. Frankly, it was fine. The broccoli (I like broccoli) was good, the mac and cheese was acceptable for airline food, and the beef wasn’t that bad. It was pretty tender, but I couldn’t quite figure out what kind of cut it was. I finally settled on basic pot roast. The sauce or gravy or whatever that stuff was turned out to taste OK to me, but I think they could improve the looks of the entree by cutting the amount of it in half. The quality of the beef wasn’t the best I’ve ever tasted, but I did finish it. The meal was topped off with something I’ve never had on an airplane, red velvet cake. It wasn’t like my grandma used to make, but I liked it.
Overall, I thought the meal was perfectly acceptable. Good, even. After eating it, I did not even need dinner on my connection. I’d never really talked to a flight attendant about meal service before, but I took the opportunity on a stretch break. I mentioned that I’d been hearing a lot of complaints about some of the new meal services. She didn’t seem to be aware of any issues. She then took the time to go through the presentation of the meal, showing me the paperwork that comes with the catering, complete with color pictures of the food. We both agreed that it was a lot of food, and that the chicken appetizer was really good.
The Bottom Line
I know that many are not happy with American’s meal window changes and entree changes. I’ve read more than one complaint about the specific lunch I had. While I’m admittedly no connoisseur, I can’t say I have any real complaints with this particular mid-con lunch entree other than a little too much sauce. The beef quality seemed about one notch lower than my tastes as well, but that did not stop me from eating it. YMMV. The new plating struck me as OK too, but I’m admittedly accustomed to meals on a tray from Delta. It’s been a while, but I think the silverware may almost be of proper size which strikes me as a positive.
Have you tried any of the new meals, or this meal in particular? What did you think of it?
-MJ, September 23, 2014