You can safely file this post in the “what was the least important thing that happened to me in business travel this week” column. That said, I want to say a little something about my flights last week on American Airlines. I traveled to Los Angeles on American’s A319 nonstop service from Atlanta. While not exactly “transcon” in the classic AA sense of the word, it’s no slouch of a domestic flight either.

pre departure beverage

My outbound flight was a lunch flight and the return was a dinner flight. In each case, the aircraft had been on the ground for a while and was catered when we boarded. We were not delayed, and boarding was not in any sense of the word “chaotic.” All obvious reasons to skip a pre departure beverage (PDB) service. In fact, on the return, there was an obvious break in the crowd after the whopping three of us who were seated in first class boarded. One might think that a PDB on a cross-country flight would be in order, but one would be wrong. My expectations were up a bit since I’d had a run of good luck with PDBs on AA earlier this year, and have always had good luck getting a pre flight drink with legacy US Airways crews.

A little red wine in a plastic cup is not the beginning or end of anyone’s world, especially mine, but it is a tiny little gesture that sets the tone of a flight and I appreciate a PDB when offered. And therein lies the paradox. I let the lack of an offer of a PDB convince me that I was in for a less than stellar flight on both segments, and I could not have been more wrong. The first class flight attendants on both flights were very good. Heck, the flight attendant on my return home was great.

I still think a pre departure beverage is a reasonable expectation for domestic first class flights, and I don’t understand why American flight attendants are notably less likely to provide one. In the end, it didn’t impact my flight experience. Perhaps the message is “don’t sweat the small stuff.”

-MJ, December 14, 2015