File this one under pretty awesome. Alaska isn’t the only airline upgrading its in-flight meals. Earlier this week, American and fast-casual chain Zoës Kitchen announced a new buy-on-board partnership. These meals go on sale in the Main Cabin on flights exceeding three hours starting December 1st.
New Menu Largely Replaces Existing BOB Choices
According to American’s press release, new choices beginning December 1 include:
- Breakfast Sandwich: Turkey bacon, egg slices and tomato topped with baby arugula on a waffle brioche bun with Calabrian pepper aioli.
- Continental Breakfast Box: Belgian waffle, hazelnut spread and fresh berries.
- The Grüben: Zoës signature sandwich with sliced turkey, Manchego cheese, crunchy Mediterranean slaw and feta spread layered on marble wheat bread, served with a Zoës chocolate chip cookie.
- Chicken Wrap: Grilled chicken wrap with mozzarella, roasted tomatoes, arugula and artichokes, served with a Zoës chocolate chip cookie.
- Hummus Duo: Zoës signature hummus duo, including their classic flavor topped with Kalamata olives and basil pesto hummus, served with pita bread, cucumber and carrot.
American further indicates that they plan to add additional items throughout 2019. These additions apparently include offerings in the domestic First Class cabin. The release also suggests that the new Zoës menu largely replaces the existing BOB options. However, the fruit and cheese plate and breakfast platter stick around for now. American did not indicate pricing for the new items, though I expect similar prices to the existing menu.
Why I Think This is a Good Idea
For starters, Zoës is actually pretty good. Our office uses them in our catering rotation, and it’s probably the most popular among our employees. Our spread always includes the hummus and pita bread, both of which are addictive. (This basically is American’s Hummus Duo, except substituting pimento cheese for the regular hummus. Though I sure hope the pimento cheese makes it onto a future menu.)
Meanwhile, I also hope the ravioli and kebabs make the next cut of menu items. On second thought, scratch the kebabs. I can imagine how messy those might get on an airplane.
With the exception of the ravioli, most of Zoës offerings aren’t heavy at all. Personally, I try to avoid heavy meals in coach, since moving around is tough. Something tasty yet light seems like a winning combo for the BOB menu.
As much as the food, I just really like the concept of airlines partnering with local companies. Heck, as meal downgrades began taking shape in First, I floated the idea of partnering with Plano-based Zoës. I view it as an easy way to give customers a true taste of their hubs, while giving free advertising to the business. jetBlue does this fairly successfully in Mint, partnering with New York eatery Saxon + Parole to cater meals.
Delta also rolled out locally-sourced premium cabin meals on international flights out of Los Angeles, Seoul, and Tokyo.
So it’s good to see American at least try to keep up in the arms race. My only question is, how wise is it to put all your eggs in the Mediterranean basket? Don’t get me wrong, I love Mediterranean food. I also know quite a few non-adventurous souls who don’t. Will there be complaints that you can’t get the old sandwiches anymore?
I’m actually pretty excited about this development. If I’m about to board a flight to Los Angeles around mealtime, and have a choice of an overpriced airport meal or Zoës onboard, I think I’d rather spend the $10 onboard for the hummus plate. So, you could say the marketing’s already working. For a change, an American “enhancement” actually fits the bill. Oh, and Mr. Parker, since you took my idea, you can pay me with a lifetime supply of hummus plates…