For as much as it’s romanticized, the air travel experience has been in constant flux for decades thanks to cost-cutting measures put in place by airlines. But it was the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic that truly ushered in a new era for the industry as carriers struggled to create a safe environment for passengers while struggling with a fresh set of financial woes. The result has been nearly two years of constant changes that have made it difficult to know what to expect when you fly. Now, American Airlines has announced that it’s getting rid of something else from its flights for the coming months. Read on to see how your next trip could be different.
After negotiations with the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA), American Airlines has announced that it will be changing its cabin service by cutting the second beverage service on domestic flights longer than 1,500 miles as of Jan. 26, travel news outlet The Points Guy reports. Additionally, the carrier will also be making a small change to service on international flights by serving the soup and appetizer prepared for passengers in first class during in-flight meals on a single tray instead of separately. Both rules will likely be in effect until at least mid-April.
The latest service changes come after the APFA formally demanded that cabin service on flights be reduced to cut down on the amount of time crew would be directly exposed to passengers, which has become a more urgent concern as the highly transmissible Omicron variant continues to spread. The group also argues that it will limit the amount of time passengers spend maskless while eating and drinking.
“Together with APFA, we have decided to temporarily modify some onboard service to limit customer touchpoints,” reads an official statement from American Airlines. “As we have throughout the pandemic, we will continue to assess ways to thoughtfully return the onboard dining services customers are asking for while keeping safety front and center. We appreciate the APFA’s collaboration as we continue to navigate the ever-changing circumstances of the pandemic.”
American Airlines isn’t the only carrier to make service changes recently. On Jan. 9, Alaska Airlines has announced that it would be cutting back beverage service to one per flight, no matter the duration, travel news outlet Paddle Your Own Kanoo reported. The carrier also said it would be dropping fresh meals on medium-haul flights and reducing the number of pre-order meals available on transcontinental flights and legs to Hawaii from 63 to 42. The company clarified that both changes would be in effect for at least the rest of January.
Similar to demands from the APFA, the changes were selected from a list proposed by the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA-CWA) in December to limit the time flight crews are directly interacting with passengers. They also were implemented amid what the company called an “unprecedented” number of staff call-outs due to infection or exposure to COVID-19, which has led to personnel shortages.
But it’s not just the second beverage service that will soon be disappearing from cabins on American Airlines flights. The carrier also recently announced that it would no longer hand out sanitizing wipes to every passenger during boarding, according to The Points Guy. The airline cited a limited stock available due to the ongoing supply chain issues plaguing diverse industries and companies across the globe as the reason behind the change. However, passengers who ask for the wipes will still be provided with them individually.