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PHX-TPA On HP, Buy On Board Food Program (w/ Pics)

Wed Jan 29, 2003 8:27 am

I've been flying since I was young, and I've been eating since, well, anyway, it's obvious I've never missed a meal. And mixing the two is sometimes a treat, sometimes it's a bit aweful.

But America West has it mixed perfectly!

I flew on America West from Phoenix to Tampa on Friday, 24 Jan 03, one of the final days of the 'Buy On Board' program. This was also the ONLY week to offer a food product on long-haul flights that do not presently receive meal service. I personally think this is a great idea.

Boarding for this flight began well before I arrived at the gate. My home is in Ft. Lauderdale, but I found out all they had were middle seats open (20) and I opted to fly to Tampa, which was an A319, booked to only 65 in the back (out of 112). This way I can fly comfortably but so can my seat mates... although I'm 6'1 and 250#s, I still spill over a bit.

I approach the counter and they give me 19C towards the rear of the aircraft. I board this flight to find lots of smiling faces from everyone, except for a screaming child in 21 F. UGH!

I take my seat and notice that the seat pitch is the same as on Frontier's A319s. The seats aren't as comfortable, but that's probably just because I've been spoiled for so long on United and others that use more padding.

During the DEMO, the FAs were very attentive and doing lots of eye-contact with the passengers, which helps ease me knowing that they no longer just stare at the ceiling while showing us where the exit rows are!

Pushback/taxi/takeoff are all uneventful. There were no announcements that this flight was a 'Buy On Board' flight.

About 15 minutes into the flight, the lead (purser) began to talk about the inflight entertainment and then went into the 'Buy On Board' program. She mentioned that if you want to purchase a meal, that you should drink your beverage slowly as they do not offer a drink service with the meal carts. I think HP should change that and have a drink cart follow ONLY for passengers purchasing food, as it was about 30 minutes between the beverage cart and the meal cart.

After the drink service, a woman in a dress began passing out surveys to everyone in the cabin. She later identified herself as the Assistant to Mr. Parker, the CEO & President of America West. She was very intrigued by our website and the fact I was taking pictures of the meals for this site and I hope she continues to visit FlyerTalk and pass along input to Mr. Parker on what the Cactus Air flyers think of their airline. I was certainly impressed!

Back to the meals,

We were given 3 choices on today's flight:

-Chicken Kiev with salad, baked potato, butter, sour cream and cheese, green beans and chocolate bar $10

-Cold beef tenderloin, pasta salad, fresh marinated vegetables, cheese and crackers, fresh strawberries, apple cobbler and chocolate mint $10

-Chicken Parmesian Hot Pocket, with Pringles chips, cheese spread, garlic bread stick, Oreo Cookies, fruit snack $5.

They did the meal service from 2 carts, 1 at the front of the cabin, 1 at the rear. Each cart had a 2 foot menu on each:

$5 Dollar Menu -

$10 Dollar Menu -

The movie, The Tuxedo, began and I wasn't interested in it... I was busy taking pictures of the meals!

I picked the Beef Tenderloin (cold) dinner after taking pictures of all 3 samples.

Beef Pic #1, $10

Beef Pic #2, $10

HP has a winner. This was a HUGE meal that took over an hour to eat (no joke). After opening up the package, I started to munch on the green beans and pasta, before I found some seasoned potatoes beneath the beef. I then realized there was a HUGE bed of green lettuce/spinach on the bottom and I was suppose to make it as a salad. The salad dressing was a Basalmic Vingarette (I think), but it wasn't enough...

The beef was cold and very tender and actually had a taste to it. The pasta could have used a bit more seasoning, but it was quite good. The green beans were also quite good, as I tasted some salt and garlic in them. I then tore into the cheese and crackers (like the ones you get in United's Red Carpet Clubs)... my only recommendation to Mr. Parker is to include *2* packages of crackers, as the slice of cheese was HUGE. The fresh strawberries were as delicious, followed by yours truely inhaling the apple cobbler.

Of all of my years of eating while flying, I think this meal was the best. It took forever to eat, and really DID fill me....

which made trying the hot pocket so hard to do!

The other option I tried was the Hot Pocket (only AFTER everyone was served, and of course, this was over 1/2 way through the flight. The lead and I decided it would be best to cut it in half for the picture.

Hot Pocket, $5 -

I only ate one half of the hot pocket and gave the rest of the meal to my hungry seat mate, who was flying to Tampa to see his boyfriend again (what's up w/ me sitting next to other 'family' on all of my America West flights??!!?? no complaints from me though). He said it was VERY VERY good and enjoyed it... ate everything off of his tray.

The Chicken Parmesian Hot Pocket seems to be standard fair for HP after looking through I think that this meal should be enhanced with maybe another 'hot' option, such as ham & cheese. The FAs also said that they feel they burned the food, as it was timed at 35 minutes. The hot pocket *was* crunchy though, compared to its counterparts at United.

The other option was the Chicken Kiev

Chicken Kiev $10 -

Out of fairness to HP, I will not comment on this food. I wish it the best *lol*. Not the best meal, although I heard the baked potato was the best thing on the tray. Something about chicken never being that good when you fly... and the more I think about it, I've only had 1 good chicken meal when I fly, and that was Robinsons BBQ Chicken in United First.. and it was soaked in the BBQ sauce.

The flights were very well received by everyone on board... we even landed 10 minutes early in Tampa, where it was a blistering 39 degrees... making me a bit disgruntled, considering it was 56 when I left Reno/Lake Tahoe earlier that morning.

HP said that so far, about 30-33% of all passengers were purchasing food. On our flight, they used a simple formula... 1/2 of total booked, which would be 35, plus the NRSAs listed. So HP anticipated about 35/40 would be interested. They loaded 11 hot meals of each (11 chicken kievs, 11 chicken parmesians) and 15 cold dinners. I think when all was said and done, they had a # of the hot meals leftover and only 2 of the beef tenderloins.

Overall, the meal service was great and I hope that HP continues with this service. It is only a matter of time before everyone is doing this..... and we have HP to thank for that.

I'd rather pay for my meals in the air than on the ground...

~ ~ ~ ~ pRoFeSsIoNaL hUrRiCaNe DoDgEr ~ ~ ~ ~
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RE: PHX-TPA On HP, Buy On Board Food Program (w/ Pics)

Wed Jan 29, 2003 8:44 am

Excellent report. The beef dish certainly looks the best of the bunch. The portion size and selection of food on the tray is pretty impressive. Certainly more than I got on my 2 CO international flights in coach. Honestly this seems to compare well to the meals they have been serving in first class as well. As for the Chicken Kiev, they may want to refine that dish more and replace it with something else. Those things are tricky enough as it is on the ground, and the manufacterer of the Kievs makes a big difference too.

Is there any word on whether they will fully implement the program and on what flights will feature the full selection? As much as people like to bash America West, they have been offering a very good product as of late. They could have gone really cheap with the buy on board program, but it looks like they put together a top notch product.
Stop drop and roll will not save you in hell. --- seen on a church marque in rural Virginia
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RE: PHX-TPA On HP, Buy On Board Food Program (w/ Pics)

Wed Jan 29, 2003 10:18 am

Talk about a good trip report.
I especially enjoyed the pics of the tasty meals which did look huge for being airplane food (they even have a mini Girardelli chocolate bar-good stuff!) . When I first read that it was some type of buy food program I thought it would be more like the what European airlines offer but hey I was wrong.
Fly the Flag!!!!
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RE: PHX-TPA On HP, Buy On Board Food Program (w/ Pics)

Wed Jan 29, 2003 10:37 am

I think America West has a great idea here. Personally, I think both options are over-priced, but perhaps other people feel differently.
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RE: PHX-TPA On HP, Buy On Board Food Program (w/ Pics)

Wed Jan 29, 2003 11:43 am

Owing to some browser issues, I cant presently look at those pics (nor any others), however tomorrow when I get to a normal computer I will, however I have to say that I actually find chicken on airlines to be at a level with or sometimes even superior to chicken on the ground...Ive never met an inflight chicken meal I didnt like...quite interesting...

Chief college football stadium self-pic guru
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RE: PHX-TPA On HP, Buy On Board Food Program (w/ Pics)

Wed Jan 29, 2003 1:27 pm

I hope this program with the food will be a success. The meals actually looked good! This could be quite popular after all.
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RE: PHX-TPA On HP, Buy On Board Food Program (w/ Pics)

Wed Jan 29, 2003 1:36 pm

Thank you very much for the details on the food service...39 degrees in TPA??? Whats with that???
"Wouldn't your boss like to fly home nonstop at 4:30 on a Friday afternoon?" -Airline Exec to Congressional Staffer
dc-10 levo
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RE: PHX-TPA On HP, Buy On Board Food Program (w/ Pics)

Thu Jan 30, 2003 1:53 am

Great report and interesting pics!

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RE: PHX-TPA On HP, Buy On Board Food Program (w/ Pics)

Thu Jan 30, 2003 6:21 am

Great report, SegmentKing, and the pics of the meals are awesome! AWA is gonna get some customers this way!
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RE: PHX-TPA On HP, Buy On Board Food Program (w/ Pics)

Thu Jan 30, 2003 8:20 am

Nice report! The meal idea looks great!

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RE: PHX-TPA On HP, Buy On Board Food Program (w/ Pics)

Fri Feb 07, 2003 9:24 am

HP uses all the big companies.
Nabisco Fruit Works
Oreo Cookies
NO Second NAmes here, only the real big typical manufactureers.
-Transaero Boeing 737-200
What now?
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RE: PHX-TPA On HP, Buy On Board Food Program (w/ Pics)

Fri Feb 07, 2003 11:04 am

I like the idea.
I think that they should serve the hotpocket meal on all fights free and charge for specialty meals like the beef.

The pictres looked good! I'm HUNGRY now lol!

Its certinly worth 10 dollars for a good meal.
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RE: PHX-TPA On HP, Buy On Board Food Program (w/ Pics)

Fri Feb 07, 2003 12:05 pm

After finally looking at the pics...I have to say those meals all looked amazingly appetizing...I really want to try them...

Chief college football stadium self-pic guru
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RE: PHX-TPA On HP, Buy On Board Food Program (w/ P

Fri Feb 07, 2003 11:25 pm

Nice job SegmentKing! Big grin I was originally totally against this program, however, some of those dishes look absolutely delicious. Damnit, you made me hungry!
America's chickens are coming home to rooooost!
Topic Author
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RE: PHX-TPA On HP, Buy On Board Food Program (w/ Pics)

Sat Feb 08, 2003 2:31 pm

and my pics just made  Smile/happy/getting dizzy Meal of the Week!!

~ ~ ~ ~ pRoFeSsIoNaL hUrRiCaNe DoDgEr ~ ~ ~ ~
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RE: PHX-TPA On HP, Buy On Board Food Program (w/ Pics)

Sat Feb 15, 2003 11:11 pm

Wow, this certainly is a unique report! Big grin That roast beef looks awesome, I'm starvin!
That sounds like a good idea for better airline food. Somehow though, I enjoy eating ANYTHING when stareing at the world from FL390...

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RE: PHX-TPA On HP, Buy On Board Food Program (w/ Pics)

Mon Feb 17, 2003 4:12 am

Would hate to be on one of these flights that is delayed and everybody is hungry and your caught in the middle and when they get to you there is nothing left???? Fab photos and descriptions, love that Kiev and worth the $10. Is that plus tax? Does it look like they are going to continue this service? Thanks for the report.

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