So American Air cannot make butter chicken…

After I booked up my trip to the US on American Air and their oneworld partner British Airways, I received an email from AA inviting me to pre-select my meal on one of the segments on the trip, which was going to be a lunch flight from Seattle to Dallas/Fort Worth. This feature is still experimental so only on a few flights do passengers get the option to pre-select their entrees. Obviously, I was going to take this experiment for a test-drive. Here are snapshots of what came my way on the particular flight:


Step 1


Step 2


Step 3

So, when I did select the entree here and took the screenshots, I felt like some Salmon. However, later during my travels, I felt like figuring out another experiment, of how would the Butter Chicken really taste about 9,000 miles away from home. Also, being away from home for a short while, I thought it might be nice to taste a tangy curry after eating American style and other cuisines over the week. I thought lets see how the Americans do some Indian curry.

However, on the day of the flight, the flight attendant serving First came around taking meal orders and referred to the meal option as Chicken Curry. That should have been my cue on changing my mind, however, I told her I’d go ahead with my pre-order.

Now, this is what turned up:


For those of you who haven’t had Butter Chicken, here is a random sample picture off the internet which should be the generally acceptable definition of the promised entree:

This one is made with soft pieces of chicken, cooked for long in a gravy which consists of cashew paste and obviously, butter. BUT, this was nowhere close to that. This was nowhere even close to anything that AAdvantageGeek showcased in his photoseries on the new entrees. This was not even a curry, but a few rubbery pieces of chicken which were maybe overcooked. Now, we can’t blame this on the ovens or the food tasting different at 35,000 feet. I’ve had better curries in the air, and even BA had good curries on their World Traveller (Economy) section. Have a look…


It is not like I have not eaten Indian food abroad. I’m frequently entrusted with the responsibility to order food for 15-20 people when I travel on work and my local colleagues all want to try out some Indian cuisine. I’ve eaten thick bread which is passed as Indian naan, oversweet food sometimes for ‘keep it less spicy’, but at least all the time they get the ingredients and the recipes right. In this case, it was a whole different ballgame altogether. Even food in Air China Y was better!

I simply cannot fathom why do airlines approve meals which their caterers cannot make or they do not have the resources to execute on a regular basis. Have you had experiences with a meal gone wrong on a flight, like totally? Do write in…

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  1. I’m not sure what you would expect, particularly on a US airline. From a country with reputedly the worst airlines in the world and reputedly the worst food in the world, an attempt at a complicated dish with nuanced flavors is always going to be a disaster.

  2. I feel like the guy who read the full Ramayana and then asked ‘Whose father is Sita’? Er, where is the AA chicken curry? All I can see is something that pretends to be Indian bread, something that pretends to be a salad and AN EMPTY PLATE! Where is the chicken?

  3. To me a meal gone wrong is KFC on the JAL Dreamliner flight from Tokyo to LA… Fried chicken sandwich for BREAKFAST! And there was no other option.

    • @smitty06 maybe you did get the Chicken curry, I couldn’t even identify the flavor of the meat they served eventually!!

  4. Had it and don’t like it as much as the tilapia in flour tortillas, but more than the cold salmon salad. It’s airline food..

  5. I have had this twice on AA flights and have found the Butter Chicken to be tasty and well prepared. I do know a bit about Indian food (just had a curry for lunch), and I agree that it was not super spicy. But I would hardly expect AA on a domestic flight to serve a very spicy meal. Other passengers were being offered this dish, and if the other selection was exhausted, AA would not want to “force” an F passenger to eat a spicy dish.

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