The Vegetarian Resource Group Blog

American Airlines Restricts Its Vegetarian Meal Option

Posted on February 22, 2010 by The VRG Blog Editor

American Airlines Restricts Its Vegetarian Meal Option

by Jeanne Yacoubou, MS

VRG Research Director

We recently received an email from a vegetarian couple who frequently flies on American Airlines business class. They expressed frustration about the lack of vegetarian meals served on most flights. They told us that they usually are served nothing at all and that “it has been close to a decade since we have received a veggie meal option from American. This includes international flights…”

The VRG contacted American for clarification of their vegetarian meal policy. Stephen Jeffery of Customer Relations at American told us that “we no longer offer the option of ordering a special meal in the first class cabin on all domestic non-transcontinental flights (special meals are still available in the first class and business class cabins on transcontinental flights) or in the coach cabin on all domestic flights and on flights to/from the Caribbean, Mexico, Hawaii, Latin America and Canada.”

Jeffery explained American’s policy in this manner: “This change in service resulted from an exhaustive competitive analysis of this particular complimentary amenity. The cost savings identified by this reduction in service are significant for us and will help us focus on those of our products and services better valued by our customers.”

Jeffery noted that special meals, including a vegetarian option, are still available on flights to Europe, Japan and some Latin American destinations. For more information, he suggested that readers visit:

When The VRG followed up with American Airlines on this subject on behalf of the vegetarians who said they were served nothing at all when their request for the vegetarian option was denied, Jeffery stated that “as long as there were sufficient meals aboard, the flight attendant would be more than happy to serve a regular meal in place of a special meal which had been requested but was not delivered.”

The VRG recommends that vegetarians request the vegetarian meal option every time they fly. More consumer interest and demand may result in a meal policy modification at American Airlines.

9 to “American Airlines Restricts Its Vegetarian Meal Option”

  1. Jeff Butts says:

    This is horrible!!!! Who are they to discriminate like that? Did they look at the significant cost savings of serving everybody a vegetarian meal? This sucks because I’m a Peace Corps Volunteer in Latin America and the only airline they use is American. What about people who are religiously restricted in their diet – i.e. Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu. McDonald’s was sued a while ago by some Hindus after being told their fries where vegetarian and then weren’t. They, consequently, changed their fries to be vegetarian / vegan.

  2. Smik says:

    I just flew American Airlines in January and they served me a vegetarian meal. You have to call them in advance and let them know about it though.

  3. Kalynn says:

    I love the veggie meal option and they will get you one if you ask in advance. We really don’t know what kind of quality meat/fowl/fish the airlines are willing to buy, and I’m sure it’s not great. With a vegetarian meal, how can you go wrong?

  4. Jenna says:

    I Flew AA in May from Philadelphia to La Paz, Bolivia and back, coach, and requested a vegetarian meal and was denied an option. I went hungry. It was especially arduous and horrible the way back when I had to be up at 3am in La Paz from my hotel so I had nothing to pack with me… only cookies..I bought yogurt at the airport then they confiscated it from me at security at the secondary search… meaning I had nothing to eat until I got to Philadelphia at midnight that night.

    I am flying AA (not by MY choice) from Philadelphia to Seattle in two weeks FIRST CLASS. Again, I called ahead to ask for a vegetarian meal for 3 people and was told ONCE AGAIN there was no substitutions.

    It makes no sense to me. Its CHEAPER to have a vegetarian option available. Hindus, Jews, Muslims, all tehse people can be safe with a vegetarian choice…

    Please join my group Boycott AA until they make vegetarian options available… if we are paying for meals in our tickets… our reasonable needs should be accomodated

    …. I have contacted PETA: I am FIGHTING:!/group.php?gid=124637360915241&ref=ts

  5. My mom says young people like me are rare to find with regards on food intake. I’m vegetarian and only eat meat once in a week or sometimes not at all. That’s just too bad to note that this airline restricts veggies meal option. They could make several options though to serve their customers well.

  6. Robert Fry says:


    Eating meat once a week does not make you vegetarian.

  7. Lindsey says:

    This happened to me on a flight from Japan to Chicago. I did everything right; I requested the meal and I verified its existence when I checked in for my flight. My first meal I was given a vegetarian meal. My second meal the flight attendant gave me a ham and cheese sandwich. I politely pointed out I requested veggie meals. She told me that certain vegetarian meals were eliminated from flights and started to walk away. I held up my sandwich and said, “But I can’t eat this.” She huffed away and came back some time later with the side dishes from the first meal– which were insufficient as a meal. (Her overall rudeness was really upsetting). I complained about this to American Airlines and was simply told that they’ve eliminated some meals. I haven’t flown American since.

  8. I was hoping airlines would produced a gluten free menu rather than restrict it even further. They love including flour in almost everything making it impossible for me to eat on flights. I have to make do with a piece of fruit on most flights. Recent stats are suggesting that as many as half the population are gluten intolerant. Perhaps its time for them to consider the needs of their passengers.

  9. Andreas says:

    I booked a veggie meal on a NYC-SFO flight some years back. They had no veggie meals on board, so offered me a “Gluten free special meal”. That was chicken. Wnet hungry, and never flew them again.

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