Back in March, Continental announced it would be eliminating free snacks/meals in economy class on most domestic flights. The day of reckoning has finally arrived. Starting on 12 October, a buy-on-board menu will replace the free meal service and finally usher out the era of free meals on shorter domestic flights in the United States.
Domestic flights over 6.5 hours (like Newark/Houston to Hawaii) will still offer free meals in economy, but even transcons will transition to BOB on Tuesday. Originally, CO had stated that passengers would still be fed for free on flights over six hours, meaning many transcons would still qualify. Apparently, the time was upped to 6.5 hours in order to save money, align with UA, and provide clarity (e.g. food on EWR-SFO but not EWR-LAX?).
Continental has released their new BOB menu, and I have to admit–it looks pretty good. More closely resembling Alaska Airlines or Air Canada than United (although Eli’s cheesecake is on the menu), the menu features both hot and cold choices for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I have long advocated for hot choices on United and I anticipate that if CO’s BOB program is successful, UA will adopt it as the merger progresses.
Here’s an excerpt of the menu:
A couple weeks ago I was on a Houston-Los Angeles Continental flight in which my upgrade did not clear. It was a noon departure so a hot lunch was served to economy passengers. Though it wasn’t gourmet and probably not very healthy, I really appreciated the chicken enchilada and bag of carrots. In fact, I thought the enchilada was so good that I asked for seconds. I will miss that, but I can’t blame Continental for deciding that it did not make sense to be the only carrier in America to offer free food behind the curtain on most domestic flights.
Although it’s too early to tell, I’m feeling quite optimistic today that we will see hot food back in economy on United by the end of next year. We might even see free meals return to Chicago/Denver-Hawaii flights. That’s an enhancement I can applaud.