On a recent flight from Chicago to Los Angeles, I decided to augment my meal with a couple side items, which made for a tricked-out first class dinner and a prototype, if I may be so bold, of how United Airlines could offer a leading domestic product.
My Tricked-Out Meal In United Airlines First Class
Tricked-out (adjective): decorated or equipped in an unusual or extravagant way
For many months now, the choice on most domestic flights in first class with meal service has been a chicken breast with chimichurri sauce, beans, and rice or an Italian ragu with polenta. While I happen to find the chicken very tasty and don’t mind having it over and over (and over and over) again, I know others are absolutely sick of both choices.
The good news is that United is expanding its meal service pre-order program and passengers who confirm first class in advance should soon, if not already, have the option of choosing from a wider variety of choices on many routes.
But no matter the choice, I miss the salads and appetizers that used to be part of the domestic meal menu. I also find that I’m still hungry after the meals.
So on a recent flight from Chicago to Los Angeles, for experimental purposes, I took a hummus appetizer and side salad from the United Club in order see if a multi-course meal was too much, still too little, or just right.
I ordered the chicken, which was served with a bread roll (I’m trying to skip carbs), a pie-like cookie (I’m trying to skip carbs…), and fruit (okay, I’ll eat these carbs).
I added my salad and hummus and noted that everything fit nicely – there is room on the tray for extra courses.
My seatmate, a towering man who happened to be a prominent architect in Orange County, got a big chuckle from my augmented meal and flagged down the flight attendant, joking with her over why I got the better meal. We all shared a laugh, though I suspect the flight attendant thought I was a bit nutty (guilty as charged, perhaps…).
The meal was fresh and delicious. I appreciated the salad and hummus and sliced vegetables.
My tricked out meal may have been more a joke, but it made for a much nicer dinner. It would be great to see to United offer salads and appetizers with dinner once again.
I read this only to see if you used the word, “tasty.” You did not disappoint.
Just for you!
Love my UA hot meal during covid. Flew AA from Tucson to Chicago and the breakfast meal was dry cereal on 1 Mar 2022. Worst than prison food. The return flight on 8 Mar to LAX was a hot meal very skimpy chicken and hot nuts for appetizer. I hear Delta is even worse.
I flew UA class, Chicago to Los Angeles on March 2, and back on March 10 on Polaris. Both ways, only choices were chicken/rice/bean (flavorless) or polenta (high fat & carbs). I haven’t had a green of any sort in any option on any domestic flight. Dump the beans and bring on the veggies! I fly weekly, domestic and international (beef is tasty, but sauce too sweet). I’m quite bored with the choices. One of them had curry meal. Would like to see that returned.
UA deserves credit for being the first amongst the US 3 to bring back hot food on domestic flights, but if they are genuinely trying to become a more premium airline, as Kirby claims, they really need to invest more in their catering now that others are also bringing back hot food. Also, specific to the premium transcon flights, AA arguably had better catering on their flights even when they were doing their more limited one tray COVID service (which went away in November 2021– now there’s no argument their premium transcon catering is now better), and DL’s one tray transcon catering looks better as well.
Even food for sale in economy is welcome. Agreed
really stupid post.
Appreciate your click, Bob!
Wait what, your flight from ORD-LAX had 5 first class meal options? That is shocking, I have only seen the ragu and chicken for months, except on EWR/JFK-LAX/SFO. Was this just a one time fluke or will we start seeing this more?
I flew LAX-ORD a few weeks ago and only had 2 choices.
This was not from me, but someone else on the flight – I held out for a complimentary upgrade, which did come through 24 hours before departure, too late to pre-order food. I would have tried the falafel plate for sure, but the guy across the aisle from me did and it looked very good. Next time, I may use PlusPoints if possible to confirm the space early so I can try that falafel dish. May just be ex-ORD rather than ex-LAX.
I hope we shall see a return of ‘Meal Of The Week’ in the near future!
Where the “pie like” cookie go? Did you give it to your seatmate?
The real measure of success for Matthew’s meal is the (unsaid) fact that it wasn’t slammed down in front of him, nor was an Aquafina thrown at him from the 3 point line.
I am gobsmacked… beyond shocked that your salad and appetizer did not cause the entire airplane to die of COVID-19.
After all, the service was initially reduced, scrapping these items, “for our safety”! 😉
Childish Trumpism humor.
At least you didn’t give him your eggs!!!!!
I rarely ever travel let alone fly. Last September I flew UA first class and was beyond disappointed. Moreso in the end because they’ve not once responded to me regarding my experience. Quite disappointing.
I fly between DEN and LAX quite often and am really sick of the chicken/polenta options. I tried the polenta once and it was not very good, but I agree the chicken is decent. Still, every time the FA comes to take my order I keep hoping to hear something different and as soon as she says “we have a grilled…” it’s all over. Pre-pandemic service is coming back slowly but they really need to give in flight meals a strong boost.
Any meal served on a tray can be considered “tricked out.” You should get out more often…. or at least learn how to take the airline to task for serving a first class meal on a tray.
You could have been described “nutty” if you had a walnut hummus but absent that you’re just being a chickpea. 😉
The enchiladas are actually pretty good, one of the best meals I have had on UA, though I have not seen them on any of my routes lately.
I sometimes wonder if UA actually has anyone in the catering/in-flight meal department that even bothers to care about the product that is being delivered. The Y BOB offerings have always been fairly solid, but it seems that in the premium cabin they really come up short. While I don’t expect they would have as hearty of an offering that Matthew put together, especially in a mid-con market, having a meal with appetizer, salad, and entree is not that hard to pull off and its in line with what AA or DL either currently offer or plan to offer. Fruit should be kept to the breakfast/brunch offerings whereas lunch/dinner should have a salad–one that is more than just some chopped kale and carrots with an odd dressing choice. There are still ways they can minimize their costs and still offer something better than today.
DITTOS ON the 3rd class food in 1st class while those in steerage get all the choices.
On American Airlines I found that if you preorder the low carb dinner you get quite a feast. Disclaimer: this was prepandemic.
I had the vegetable enchiladas on a flight from Las Vegas to Chicago last August and they were delicious. I still think about them!
At least they stopped serving empty bowls (with a salt packet maybe) that really reminded you of what you were missing
So how can I order the Bistro hamburger in 1st class UNITED AIR from Portland to Houston? They never have any on board I could purchase. Is it just in the magazine?
The flight is over 1,500 miles so the burger should be available for purchase in coach. Just ask the flight attendant next time to save you a coach burger in place of your first class meal.
Note, the burger is only available on flights over 1,500 miles departing between 9:45am and 8:59pm.