A Cheeseburger Shortage Has Struck American Airlines

Cailey Rizzo
A Cheeseburger Shortage Has Struck American Airlines

American Airlines is facing an unexpected complication: a cheeseburger shortage.

About one year after introducing the cheeseburger onto its first class domestic service, the airline is dropping the American classic from its menu. The cheeseburger wasn’t supposed to disappear until mid-November, but earlier this month, the airline ran out of beef patties. And it doesn’t plan to reorder any more.

Until the menu refreshes on Nov. 13, first class passengers will have a substitution choice, like Italian ribbon pasta with tomato ragu. The hamburger toppings will be replaced with a side salad.

“This substitution is due to early depletion of the burger inventory in readiness for new entrees starting in November as part of the domestic first class menu refresh,” the airline said in a memo to employees earlier this month, according to View From the Wing.

Every month, the airline estimates how many items of each food option to keep on board. This past month, they underestimated how many burgers customers would want, thus causing the early depletion. It’s fairly common and has happened before during “soft cutover” menu switches (meaning the menu switches whenever the items run out). “You just don’t hear about it with the other items because they aren’t as trendy as cheeseburgers,” an American Airlines spokesperson told Travel + Leisure

The cheeseburger might not even be missed by passengers. A review from View From the Wing gave the burger a C+: “My first thought eating this was school cafeteria. I thought the toppings were problematic...Our flight attendant clearly left the burger in the oven too long and the bun was rock hard, like cardboard.”

Even though it may have a “problematic” in-flight burger, American Airlines will continue to offer “the world’s best airport burger” on the ground at its flagship lounge at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City. Earlier this month, the airline launched the Impossible burger (a meatless substitute) at its lounges in Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, and Dallas.

The new domestic first class menu refresh will start next month, bringing new items on board. New menu items will continue to be phased in every two months until May 2020.