American Airlines Brings Warm Food Back To Airport Lounges

In another sign of the consumer air travel industry recovering, American Airlines is bringing warm food back to its Admirals Club airport lounges. Starting on August 12th, some warm food will return to lounges across the country, though it won’t be on the same terms as it was prior to the coronavirus pandemic.

Instead of self-serve buffets, warm food at Admirals Clubs will now be managed and served by live staff, limiting the exposure that passengers have to the fare. Workers will also be obscured behind acrylic dividers and equipped with gloves and masks to ensure that social distancing measures can uphold.

Served food will include oatmeal, soup and macaroni and cheese, which is only a portion of the previous menu on offer prior to the pandemic. Other, pre-wrapped self-serve fare will also remain available in the clubs.

After complimentary hot meals are resumed on August 12th, American also plans to start reinstating pay-for-food options such as sandwiches and deep dish pizza; that service resumes on August 19th.

As meal service ramps back up, airlines have an opportunity to once more offer competitive fare in their airport lounges. Prior to March, airlines across the industry were deep in the trenches fighting an amenity war inside of their respective clubs. Spurned on by the premium offerings inside of American Express Centurion lounges, American, Delta and United were regularly making updates to lounge catering and amenities, each in an attempt to offer a superior or unique product.

By the time the coronavirus pandemic started slowing down the industry, airlines were offering partial or full meals with self service in their main lounges — a significant improvement over the light snacks offered by carriers five years ago. Social distancing and a widespread virus, however, put the brakes on everything.

At this point, meal service across carriers has been significantly disrupted. On American, meal service on flights has been cut back significantly while many airport lounges — and terminals — are eerily quiet. United Airlines has gone so far to give free lounge access to its top-tier elite passengers.

With meal service returning on this partial level, American is at least returning some level of normalcy to the business of travel. And it certainly has experience in serving food in this style: prior to the pandemic, many Admirals clubs already offered complementary avocado toast that was managed and served by a staff member. And even though a little bit of free macaroni and cheese or oatmeal may be only a small step back in the direction of pre-coronavirus travel, for many, it may be a much needed taste of better times.

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