What Are US Airways’ *Real* Flight Times for In-Flight Food Service?

US Airways and American Airlines post-merger loyalty points, elite status, and alliance.Before US Airways’ changes to the First Class experience, food was only offered on flights three and a half hours or longer.  This was sometimes pretty strict.  I’ve flown one direction on a route that was slightly above this threshold that offered meals and flew back on a flight below it that did not.  Occasionally, I’ve been given a continental breakfast on these shorter return flights.

US Airways changed their rules regarding when domestic first class gets a meal to a much more generous offering, but I’m still trying to wrap my head around what the flight times mean.

The changes to US Airways are:

Meals on your flight

< 1 hour Snack on a nut mix.
1 – 2 hours Try our new upgraded snack basket with tastier specialty snacks.
2 – 2:45 hours (and flights after 8 PM) Choose from our new morning and afternoon Lite Bites snack basket.
2:45 – 3.5 hours Enjoy heartier meals and more vegetarian dishes.
3.5 – 4.5 hours Dine on a full meal, including an appetizer.
4.5+ hours Enjoy meal service, with an appetizer and snack basket.

New Lite Bites

New morning and afternoon Lite Bites snack basket offerings include fresh fruit, breakfast cakes and finger sandwiches.

New snack basket

Take your pick from a mix of sweet and salty snacks, including Kettle Brand sea salt chips, KingNut mixed nuts, Nature’s Bakery fig bars, Milano Cookies, Dibella cranberry/pistachio biscotti and Snyder’s pretzels.

US Airways First Class Double wine

I had a two and a half hour flight from PHL-ORD, so I was excited to try out the new lite  bites offering.  Except when it came time for the flight attendant to come around, she had the usual snack basket (with a very low selection in it).  I was confused by this since it did not seem to match up with what US Airways was displaying on the website (and was disappointed because I wanted to snap a picture!)

I wrote US Airways because I wanted to make sure I understood the flight times for this clearly.  I received an apology letter back for not receiving lite bites on that route.  That seemed to suggest I should have received it.  So I wrote back explaining I appreciated the apology, but I was just interested in clarity about what to expect.  After that, they just linked me to the flight times.  On my return flight, the route was less than 2 hours plus experienced extreme turbulence, so I didn’t get to see what that experience was like.  (I did have real glassware on this flight, which is a great improvement!)

The other piece that’s confusing about their in-flight food service is that they pad flight times for places that usually have delays.  DCA-PHL is a twenty-minute flight, but is listed as an hour and a half.  According to their chart, that means a snack basket.  I received a nut mix (which makes sense given the short flight), but it didn’t match with the chart above.

I’m starting to wonder if their chart means flight times, which would make it a lot less generous than it appears.  But I can’t help but think I’ve had unusual experiences as they adjust, given how strictly US Airways adhered to the flight times as a measure of whether or not you would get a meal in the past.

Has anyone flown in first class for  1.5 hour – 3 hour routes on US Airways since the changes on April 1st?  What was your flight time, and what experience did you have?


About Jeanne Marie Hoffman

Former bartender, still a geek. One equal part each cookies, liberty, football, music, travel, libations. Stir vigorously. +Jeanne Marie Hoffman Jeanne on Twitter

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  1. United changed their policy on meals back in November to be mileage based, and there’s absolutely no leniency. In order to get a standard meal, the flight has to be 900 miles or longer, and my standard is 895. In addition to losing meals, we also lose hot towels, warm nuts, and dessert cookies, all for 5 miles on a flight only flown at meal time.

  2. I did LGA-CLT-MCI on 4/2 and MCI-CLT-LGA on 4/5. The CLT-MCI segments did have the light bites. The turkey is better than the pesto. It was nice to see the fig bar return (CLT-LGA).

    • Jeanne Marie Hoffman

      That’s really good to know! I’m happy about the fig bar as well 🙂 I’ve also been liking the dark chocolate milanos

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