United Airlines promised a vastly improved onboard meal experience last August, pledging to gradually roll out several improvements over the course of the next year. Almost immediately we saw a slight improvement in domestic lunch service and the re-introduction of meals on some shorter flights, but now come the true changes. In a highly-detailed announcement, United has laid out plans that will ostensibly transform the carrier into America’s leading source of quality airline meals.
Here are some of the highlights–
- Changes take effect 01 February 2015
- New menus including a newly-redesigned breakfast menu
- Examples include french toast, steel-cut oatmeal, and a new southwestern skillet for breakfast plus lobster macaroni and cheese for lunch
- More menu choices including three choices on longer mid-con flights and sorbet or gelato for dessert
- Expanded meal hours on mid-con and transcon flights
- Flights departing before 9:01p will have full meal service (previously it was 6:59p)
- Multi-course meal service on transcon and Hawaiian flights
- Three meal choices, mid-flight refreshment, pre-arrival snack
- Starting in March 2015, meal service on regional jets flights over 800 miles, served on chinaware
- Enhanced meals in long-haul economy class coming later in the year
Here is the full announcement from United:
As a follow-up to our announcement last year about several of the planned investments being made to our onboard dining experience, we have a number of details to share about the catering changes you will begin to see in our North America premium cabins beginning Feb 1.
Here are some of the highlights on mainline flights within the U.S., Canada, the Caribbean, and leisure markets in Mexico:
- More flights with meals: Flights of at least 800 miles will be catered with a full meal in United First® and United Business® during meal times.
- All-new menus: We’ve taken inspiration from our hub cities and popular destinations to create entirely new and fresh entrée selections with more of the flavors and ingredients customers have been telling us they want. Some examples include:
- Southwestern Houston-style skillet with cage-free scrambled eggs, pepper jack cheese, sautéed pepper mix, sliced New Mexico sausage, potato gratin, and fire-roasted pepper sauce
- Lobster Macaroni and Cheese with baked crumb topping and a side of broccoli rabe
- Shanghai vegetable noodles with vegetable gyoza
- Greater menu variety: We’ve significantly increased the number of menu selections in our new program throughout the day.
- Three entrée choices on longer mid-cons: On flights with a scheduled length of four hours to five hours and 19 minutes, the number of entrée choices is increasing from two to three, with one entrée choice continuing to be vegetarian.
- Expanded multi-course meal service on transcontinental and Hawaii flights: Transcontinental and Hawaii flights will feature heartier multi-course meals.
- Refreshed breakfast breads, snacks, side salads, bake-on-board cookies, and desserts: Beyond our entirely new entrée selections, we are complementing our reimagined premium cabin dining experience with all-new breakfast breads, 25 new premium snacks that will rotate in our snack baskets with fresh fruit where offered, improved side salads on lunch and dinner flights, new signature bake-on-board cookie flavors crafted exclusively for United by Otis Spunkmeyer®, and the introduction of sorbet and gelato or ice cream dessert courses on longer flights.
To give you a better idea of what to expect on different mainline United flights after these changes, here is a quick summary of the new North America premium cabin dining program with additional details available on united.com beginning January 23:
- Less than 199 miles: Beverage service with premium biscotti on morning flights or premium snack mix on afternoon/evening flights.
- 200 to 799 miles: Light breakfast refreshments (such as scones, muffins, or pound cake) on morning flights or a selection of premium snacks and fresh fruit on flights departing after 10:00am.
- Note that flights from Chicago O’Hare to/from Hartford, New York LaGuardia, Newark, and from Newark to/from Atlanta will receive full meals when scheduled during traditional meal times.
- 800 to 1,499 miles: Full meal service including 2 entrée choices on most flights departing between 5:00am and 8:00pm. Lunch service will consist of a choice of a protein salad served with soup or premium sandwich paired with a side salad, and dinner service will consist of a choice between a hot entrée served with a side salad or a protein salad with hot soup. On flights departing between 1:30pm and 3:59pm, and all flights departing after 8:01pm, a selection of premium snacks and fresh fruit will be offered.
- 1,500 to 2,299 miles: Full meal service on flights departing between 5:00am and 9:00pm, including 3 entrée choices, with sorbet dessert and mint leaf on lunch flights, and gelato or ice cream with choice of toppings for dessert on dinner flights. On flights departing after 9:01pm, a selection of premium snacks and fresh fruit will be offered.
- Longer than 2,300 miles: Transcontinental and Hawaii flights will offer a full multi-course meal service with 3 entrée choices on flights departing before 9:00pm, a mid-flight snack selection of premium packaged snacks and fresh fruit on longer-haul Hawaii flights, and a pre-arrival refreshment or snack on all flights.
- p.s. Premium Service (New York JFK to/from Los Angeles and San Francisco): International quality multi-course meals with 3 entrée choices topped off by our signature ice cream sundae on lunch or dinner flights, with a pre-arrival refreshment service of bake-on-board cookies for afternoon or evening arrivals, and breakfast breads on morning arrivals.
Beginning in March, premium cabin meals on United Express flights will be upgraded to freshly prepared food on flights of at least 800 miles, and premium packaged snacks on flights less than 800 miles. Later this year, we will also have more details to share on enhancements to our long-haul international United Economy meals and beverages including multi-course meal service, a refresh of our Choice Menu Bistro on Board menu, and new menu choices on our p.s. Premium Service routes in United BusinessFirst®.
What a shame I am losing my 1K status this year — these are true enhancements that will make meal service on United much more pleasant.
International meal service may be improving as well: stay tuned tomorrow for a report on the incredible meal I tasted last week traveling from Washington to Kuwait on United.