Ladyfisher
Outdoor Writers Association of America
Northwest Outdoor Writers Association
This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm

March 30th, 1998

1998 LADYFISHER'S C & R AWARD
(Crummy and Rotten)
goes to:
AMERICAN AIRLINES


"I've upped my standards, now up yours." DB


It's a long, long, long flight from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida to Seattle, Washington. Makes for a very long day especially when you are heading home from some fishing destination. Why? Because most of us fishermen are not flying executive or first class.

So here we are packed into coach seats like sardines, trying to have some modicum of comfort, and the carts appear in the aisles. Food! Oh boy, a break from the tedium. Something to break up the flight. A pleasant diversion.

You want to bet? The tip-off should have been I could not smell food. Good food usually smells good. Even before you see it on your plate you can smell it. The juices start flowing with anticipation. Ya right.

On other trips breakfast has been a little slim, but passable. Breakfast on this particular flight bordered on the weird. You picked up a miniature shopping bag (very clever artistic design in metallic purple great marketing) from a cooler placed in the boarding passage. Now I'm bright enough to know this will not be a hot meal. The fact that it is 6:00 a.m. obviously hasn't occurred to anyone in the airline business. Once investigated, 'breakfast' consists of a small granola bar, a small container of yogurt, a small plastic bottle of orange juice, and (hurrah) a banana. Hey, some will say what's the problem? If you had to get up at 4:00 a.m. to catch the 6:00 a.m. flight, it may not have looked like a real breakfast to you either.

But what the hey, I toughed it out ... after all, eventually lunch would be served. Eventually it was sort of! A flour tortilla-type thing with a razor thin slice of meat and some stringy cheese. But it was warm at least! That came with a bag of Sun Chips and a sugar cookie.

Westward we flew. Into the dark. Somewhere between Dallas and Seattle the dinner bell rang. The flight was scheduled to land in Seattle about 6:00 p.m. It had already been too many hours on a plane. I didn't want any more coffee. I didn't want another glass of Coke (ice seemed to be rationed, I guess.)

I didn't eat it. JC did open his, poked at it a bit, and put the cookie in his pocket. I brought my "dinner" back with me. We opened it up, put in on a plate, and took some pictures. Then we cut it up and took some more pictures.

Why did it occur to us to take pictures? Are we nuts? Or weird?

Perhaps; or we are just people who thought what American Airlines was passing off as "Dinner" was ridiculous. We photographed it because I sure wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it. Even sadder was the huge number of uneaten "Dinners" I personally saw thrown into the very large black garbage bags the cabin personnel dragged through the aisles after "Dinner." What a shame.

Just in case you can't figure out what "Dinner" was in the photographs, it was a "Gourmet Calzone", more of the Sun Chips, and surprise another sugar cookie.

I understand there is a lot of competition for customers on the airlines. Why don't they try serving real food? A few years ago the food was much better - not gourmet but hot, with some semblance of a balanced meal. One of the small western airlines, Frontier, actually had really good food. It appears those days are over.

Maybe packing people on over-booked flights, and serving ghastly food is what the quality of service is now about in this county. I am sure some "cost accountant - type" in an American Airlines office is pleased that he has saved the airline so much money.

Well buster, get off your flat backside, out of your high-rise office, onto an American Airlines coach flight and YOU choke down that stuff.

PS I really felt sorry for the Flight Attendants who had to "serve" it.

PPS Our dachshund did find it palatable; but then, he thinks 'fast-food' is gourmet stuff. Perhaps he should apply as a "taster" for American Airlines? There; now I feel better. ~ LadyFisher

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