United will trial express dining service for all Polaris Business Class passengers on late-evening transatlantic departures from Washington Dulles next month.
I’ve written about the problem of late-evening departures to Europe before. Eastbound transatlantic flights from the East Coast are short enough already, with flights to Dublin or London often clocking in at less than six hours in the air. Throw in a full meal service after takeoff and breakfast before landing and that leaves very little time for sleeping.
United already offers express dining as a choice, but in my experience the noise of serving others negates any value of the express dining service unless you are a very sound sleeper. Others complained about this too, leading to a trial in Washington Dulles that will begin next week.
Starting April 01st, United will offer the appetizer, salad, and main course on a single tray. Ice cream, cheese, and petit fours will be served from the galley rather than by cart. The goal of the trial is to gauge whether passengers will appreciate the expedited service in exchange for a longer rest. No food will actually be cut: the menu items will resemble what they have for the last few years (albeit on the new casserole dishes we saw unveiled earlier this month).
- Dublin (UA126)
- Frankfurt (UA932)
- Lisbon (UA168)
- London (UA924)
Why Washington Dulles when Newark is the East Coast airport with a Polaris Lounge? A United spokesperson told me that this represents a conscious choice to try the meal service from a smaller hub with a team on the ground to more closely monitor and analyze customer reaction.
A Polaris lounge is already under construction at Washington Dulles and will be completed by the middle of 2020.
United has invested a lot in offering superb Saks Fifth Avenue bedding in business class and customers, myself included, consistently value shut-eye on short, late-night flights. Thus, I think this new express service trial is a smart move. As long as United doesn’t use this as an opportunity to scale back further on the quality or quantity of food onboard, I see this an acceptable tradeoff to maximize the comfort of the most passengers in business class.