This Airline Wants to Make Your Delay Less Miserable

The program is currently being tested on a small scale, but if successful, it could be far-reaching.
airport wait

If you find yourself flying American Airlines this year, and your flight has been delayed for two hours, you just might get a free snack. If your flight is delayed more than three hours, you could get a free sandwich.

American has instituted this "Gateside Amenities" program in an effort to be more customer-friendly, and to ease the vexation that some people experience when flying.

You Won't Have to Leave Your Gate to Get Free Food

Typically when flights are significantly delayed, an airline might provide a meal voucher that forces passengers to find the food court in the airport. Instead, American is testing out the option of handing out free snacks themselves. Gateside Amenities allow passengers to still get a bite to eat, while staying in the area to receive flight updates more easily.

You might be asking, "what's the catch?" Because as we all know, airlines don't give anything away that easily. It turns out these perks only apply when the delays are due to weather or operational issues, and not when your aircraft is delayed on the tarmac.

It's Only in the Testing Phase, But More Airports Will Get it Soon

For now, American is only trying out the program in select locations. They've begun at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, and they plan to expand to Los Angeles International Airport later this month. Assuming it goes well, Gateside Amenities could be seen on all American routes later this year.

Readers, what do you think? Do these kinds of freebies make for less stressful travel? Or do you think they could be doing more? Sound off below!

Julie Ramhold
Senior Staff Writer/Consumer Analyst

Julie's work has been featured on CNBC, GoBankingRates, Kiplinger, Marketwatch, Money, The New York Times, Real Simple, US News, WaPo, WSJ, Yahoo!, and more. She's extolled the virtues of DealNews in interviews with Cheddar TV, GMA, various podcasts, and affiliates across the United States, plus one in Canada.
DealNews may be compensated by companies mentioned in this article. Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).


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Never flown through Denver, but am going there for a wedding in the fall. I guess food at the gate makes more sense in that context. That being said, I find it hard to believe that such an amenity would ever sway my choice of an airline. My choice is almost always solely based on price (excepting the Spirit Airlines and Frontier Airlines of the world - ugh).
Lindsay Sakraida (DealNews)
@bjturk512 Oh man, I just shuddered when you mentioned the Denver airport... I missed a connection there years ago because it took forever to get from one terminal to the other!
@BBacklow Have you ever been to Denver? Their terminal is pretty much a straight line, with ticketing and restaurants all at one end. It's a long haul if your gate is at the other end, and if you need to get back to ticketing or the restaurants, it's a long way back. Having such things at the gate is a huge convenience.

Example: Frontier canceled my flight, but put me on a US Airways flight leaving soon. That gate was literally the furthest gate from ticketing. Even jogging on the moving walkways, it still took me 10 minutes to get to the gate. From 50 feet away, I saw them close the door. Back I went, fuming all the way. IF they could have had something at the gate, it would have been MUCH more tolerable.
Lindsay Sakraida (DealNews)
@BBlacklow I think some people get anxious about leaving the gate when their flight is delayed. Personally I don't mind it, and if anything, would prefer to wait at a restaurant or bar.
I might be missing something, but what's the problem with having to to go to the food court? Maybe might be nice for when I travel with kids, but it doesn't seem like anything huge.