My trip from Philadelphia to Los Angeles via Chicago on United this week demonstrates how limited meal service windows can leave passengers very hungry, even in first class.
I needed a late flight out of Philadelphia because I had a busy day planned beforehand…and it was indeed packed. I skipped lunch and by the time I arrived at the airport I was famished.
This was my itinerary:
A 7:32pm flight blocked at 2 hour and 22 minutes followed by a quick 35 minute connection in Chicago O’Hare, and a 4 hour, 26 minute flight to Los Angeles.
United did not offer a meal in first class on either flight. Both of these flights used to be meal flights, but it has been quite some time since United both scaled back on meal service hours while increasing minimum distance required for meal. Under the current policy, both flights only offer a snack basket in first class.
That’s a flight duration of over eight hours including the layover. By the time I pulled up to my gate in Chicago, my connection to LAX was already boarding and I had to switch from the C Concourse to B Concourse. Even if airport concessions had been open (they were closed already…), I would not have had time to eat.
The problem is not exclusive to United. Had I taken the same combo of flights on American Airlines, I would have run into the same issue: snack basket on both flights.
And that leaves me with this question: for someone who has to work all day and flies first class on a 2-hour flight leaving 7:32p (standard dinner time for me) followed by a 4-hour flight, is it really too much to offer a meal?
I think the fact this is a first class issue is particularly egregious, but economy passengers experience the same issue: there are only light snacks or snack boxes available for purchase. As much as I love the tapas snack box, that is not a meal.
Good thing I knew this going in — I rushed to PHL to have a bite to eat in the American Express Centurion Lounge before my flight. I was still starving by the time I reached LAX. You can probably guess where I headed…