Starting in April, United Airlines will bring back buy-on-board service to more routes, including Hawaiian and transcontinental flights. The menu has also been revamped.
United Airlines Restores Buy-On-Board Service To More Routes
When the pandemic struck a year ago, United quickly eliminated meal service onboard ostensibly on safety grounds. While more accurately a cost-saving measure in premium cabins, the lost revenue on snack and alcohol sales in economy class demonstrate that some safety concerns were at play.
Last fall, United trialed a limited buy-on-board service on select routes out of Denver, but flight attendants rebelled and the program was discontinued.
Last month, United began selling snacks and alcohol on its longest Hawaiian routes. That will now be expanded.
A United Airlines spokesperson told me:
“We know that having a wide variety of gourmet food and beverage options is important to our customers, especially on longer domestic flights that currently don’t have meal service. Our new contactless payment technology enables us to safely introduce menu items on longer flights between Hawaii and select hubs, and we look forward to eventually offering these new options to all customers.”
I’ve outlined United’s contactless payment system here.
> Read More: United Airlines Moves To Contactless Onboard Payments, Will Resume Buy-On-Board Service
What Routes Will Feature United’s New Buy Onboard Service?
Starting April 1, 2021, the new menu will be available on the following flights:
These are the same routes that resumed buy-onboard service earlier this month.
> Read More: United Airlines Restores Buy On Board Service To Longhaul Hawaiian Routes
By April 12, 2021, the service will expand to the following routes:
1. Longhaul Hawaiian flights (Honolulu, Maui, Kona, Kauai) to/from the following hubs:
- Chicago (ORD)
- Denver (DEN)
- Guam (GUM)
- Houston (IAH)
- Newark (EWR)
2. Select Transcontinental flights
- Los Angeles (LAX)
- Newark (EWR)
- New York (JFK)
- San Francisco (SFO)
- Boston (BOS)
- Newark (EWR)
- New York (JFK)
What Food + Beverage Will Be Offered On These Flights?
The following food and beverages will offered for sale:
- Snack boxes
(more details on the new snack boxes here)
- Pringles Original Flavor
- Gourmet Nut Power Up Mega Omega Trail Mix
- Tru Fru Hyper-Dried Bananas in Dark Chocolate
- Food Should Taste Good™ Sweet Potato Chips with Heritage Roasted Pepper Salsa
- Economy Class Beverages
- Michelob ULTRA
- Breckenridge Brewery – Juice Drop Hazy IPA
- White Claw Hard Seltzer – Mango
- Kona Brewing Co. – Big Wave Golden Ale
- Hawaiian routes only
- Stella Artois
Will 1Ks Receive Free Snacks + Drinks?
United confirmed that 1K members will receive a free snack and free drink on flights in which the buy-on-board service is offered.
I reached out to the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) for feedback on this new policy. In the past, flight attendants have openly expressed their disgust with buy onboard service resuming prematurely, but an AFA spokesperson seemed relatively resigned to the new service:
“These are extremely limited routes and service is being reinstated along with COVID travel precautions. Purchases will utilize contactless payment to minimize touch points between crew and passengers.
“Signs of recovery have emerged as vaccinations go up and infections decline. We all must keep up important COVID safety and health measures to ensure these trends continue.”
With new case numbers dropping fast, this move was likely inventible.
United Airlines will restore buy-on-board service to more routes and introduce a new menu next month. It’s one step closer toward a return to normalcy.
Mango Claw… Nice!
They used to give free meals in E+ on these transcon flights. Is something similar going to happen?
What? Flight attendants will have to do something besides scowl? I’ve always found it rather disingenuous that United and other airlines distribute study after study showing that planes are very low risk environments… yet refuse to have cabin service. Is it dangerous? Or is it not? Sorry – ORD to MIA or LAX is a decently long flight… especially with nothing more than a snack baggy with 6oz bottle of water.
Yeah until FAs do something about distancing when boarding and exiting the plane as well as banning your own food…they can stop complaining about selling us snack boxes.
1Ker here. In the last month and a half, I have flown 4 flights each between West Coast and Hawaii on Alaska and Hawaiian. Have no status on either. Got free hot sandwiches, breakfast, real snacks, multiple water bottles, and soft drinks, not to mention legroom and great service. Other than possibly getting a beer, why would I even consider UA’s flights w/ limited or no offerings for my next two trips coming up in April??
April 12? 1K gets snack box.
April 11? 1K gets arrested.
Was about to celebrate real non-pisswater beer being back, then I saw it’s basically only on 6+ hour flights
Mostly rubbish. I wouldn’t want it FOC.
United seriously needs to upgrade its beer and wine offerings. (Psst … there are quality beers that aren’t IPAs or watered-down pilsners.) Returning from pandemic protocols seems like it would have been a great opportunity to do that, but …