Greetings from 28,000 feet, as I travel back to Los Angeles from Las Vegas. In celebration of the return of glassware and ceramic cups onboard United Airlines, I took a brief trip to Las Vegas this morning.
Dignity Returns To United Airlines First Class
In March 2020, citing fear COVID-19 could be spread over surfaces, United Airlines (and other U.S. airlines) eliminated glassware and ceramic cups in their premium cabins.
At long last, 20 months later, glassware has returned. Even as the new omicron variant threatens travel recovery once again, I’m elated.
And judging from the cabin reaction today from the other first class travelers, I was not the only passenger who was delighted by the return of “real” cups and glasses.
The guy behind me, letting out a big laugh, loudly stated, “What the heck are these? We haven’t seen ‘em in almost two years!” A flight attendant smiled. She was proud to serve him coffee in a ceramic cup.
Pre-departure beverages were also back, with another flight attendant proudly offering a choice of sparkling wine or water.
Is dignity too strong a word? Perhaps, but long before the pandemic I’ve argued that coffee is not meant to be sipped from a paper cup or wine from a plastic cup. This small change (United had simply put the glassware in storage), certainly puts some class back in first class.
And lest you think this trip was totally wasteful, I’m still a few segments short of the 36 necessary to re-qualify for 1K status without spending an extra $3,000 (1K status this year is earned by spending $12,000 and flying 36 segments or simply spending $15,000 with a minimum of four segments). I figured a sub-$100 round-trip to Las Vegas made sense as it does not appear United Airlines will offer a status extension, unlike Delta Air Lines and American Airlines.
Finally, a brief explanation to our readers outside the United States. U.S. carriers call their domestic front-cabin product “first class” even though the seats are generally regional business class seats. Perhaps I am not old enough to understand or explain why airlines have kept the “first class” label, but it does not appear to be going anywhere.
Now two segments closer to my 1K goal, I could not help but to schedule this trip on December 1st, the day that glassware returned.
As a customer and business owner who directs a lot of traffic to United Airlines, I say thank you for making this small but meaningful change.
Now, if you don’t mind, I’ll get back to my coffee:
(I brought the croissant onboard. Hint, hint United.)