American Airlines to restore hot-food service at lounges

Aug 7, 2020

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American Airlines is bringing back hot food to Admirals Club lounges starting next week.

The Fort Worth, Texas-based carrier has reopened up to 15 of its lounges since closing them all during the spring. Since the lounges first reopened, only prepackaged snacks and full-service bars (where allowed) have been customers’ only options at the lounge.

But hot food is set to return to the lounges beginning Wednesday (12 August), part of what American calls a “phased reopening strategy” for the clubs. Additional food-for-sale items will be added to the line-up on 19 August.

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With the move, American would be the first of the so-called “Big 3” U.S. airlines to return hot-food service to its lounges. Both Delta and United are both still offering only individually packaged food selections at the lounges they’ve reopened.

While American’s menu options will be limited, offerings planned by the airline include:

  • Complimentary breakfast beginning on 12 August, with options of customizable scrambled eggs or oatmeal
  • Complimentary lunch beginning on 12 August, with options of customizable mac and cheese and soups of four different flavours (garden vegetable; southwest corn; tomato portobello; butternut squash)
  • Food-for-sale beginning on 19 August; sample items such as deep dish pizza at Chicago (ORD) and sliced brisket sandwich at Dallas (DFW), with other vegetarian and gluten-free options

To adhere to CDC guidelines and to reduce touchpoints, the airline has said that gloved and masked team members will prepare the food “behind protective acrylic screens at a safe social distance”. Customers can “access” food-for-sale items using QR codes.

“Our guests tell us they’ve been eager for their menu favourites to return, and we are excited to bring those items back […]”, said Janelle Anderson, VP of Global Marketing & Digital at American.

The airline is not yet planning to bring back self-serve areas or shower facilities for guests. It also said that it will limit capacity at its lounge areas to 50%.

The announcement comes as some airport lounges in the U.S. and the U.K. – whether they are operated by a domestic or an international carrier – are beginning to reopen with drastically scaled-back service. As part of the industry’s confidence-building measures, many operators are emphasizing hygiene in these lounges. Measures include the installation of plexiglass shields at service desks, increasing cleaning and disinfecting frequency and posting signs for social distancing. Still, some lounges — such as American Express’s popular Centurion Lounges — remain closed indefinitely.

More: 7 ways the pandemic is changing airport lounges

For American, though, its lounge reopenings have focused on its hub airports. The return of some services — such as hot food choices — come as American and other airlines try to get a sense of what customers service might look like in the pandemic era. While closing down its Flagship Lounge and other exclusive offerings does come at a disappointment to some of the higher-fare customers, resumption of some of these services does seem promising.

Unfortunately, the carrier has not yet announced when other lounge locations will reopen. As of Thursday (6 August), the list of reopened Clubs in the U.S. include:

  • Charlotte (CLT) – Concourses B and C
  • Chicago O’Hare (ORD) – Concourse H/K
  • Dallas / Fort Worth (DFW) – Terminals A, B, C and D
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Terminal 4
  • Miami (MIA) – Gate D30
  • New York Kennedy (JFK) – Terminal 8 (in the Flagship Lounge)**
  • New York LaGuardia (LGA) – Concourse D**
  • Philadelphia (PHL) – Terminals B/C and F
  • Phoenix (PHX) – Gate A7
  • Washington Reagan (DCA) – Terminal B

**Only pre-packaged food and bottled water will be available, per local restrictions.

Featured photo courtesy of American Airlines

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