While United Airlines gets an A for effort, the French Fries served in first class left much to be desired.
French Fries In United Airlines First Class
This month, United has introduced a cheeseburger with French Fries on its domestic first class pre-order menu. On narrow-body aircraft, you can pre-reserve your meal between five days and 24 hours in advance of your flight. The cheeseburger with French Fries option is only available on hub-t0-hub flights. I decided to give the French Fries on my recent United flight from Houston to Los Angeles.
While taking meal orders, the flight attendant confirmed my meal had been loaded, prompting my seatmate to ask for the same dinner. The flight attendant explained that it was a special pre-order, much to his chagrin (the regular options were a glass noodle salad, tofu, or beef and broccoli with rice).
As an aside, United has previously said that the cheeseburger is its most popular food item onboard. While some decry cheeseburgers in premium cabins, they are always a crowd-pleaser.
My tray arrived and included a “four-cheese skillet burger” with caramelized onion and jalapeño served with a side of crinkle-cut fries, a side of lettuce, tomato, and pickle, and a hot “Pie in the Sky” cookie pie. Two packets of ketchup and one packet of mustard were also included on the tray.
The cheeseburger was delicious – it always is.
The French Fries? Not so much.
They reminded me of the Ore-ida French Fries my father used to always buy because they were on sale or the sort of French Fires served in a school cafeteria. They were salty and warm and therefore not totally inedible (I ate them anyway because I was famished after the 2.5 hour delay), but quite soggy. I do like the effort, but an air fryer would greatly help in making them crispier.
Overall, I quite enjoyed this meal and would order it again. But are the French Fries great? No, as expected they were quite soggy. That said, other airlines (like SWISS, for example) are able to offer crispy French Fries onboard, so it is possible and therefore hopefully something United will continue to experiment with.
The popularity of the cheeseburger in United’s premium cabins may be more related to the undesirable nature of the alternatives, rather than the quality of the cheeseburger. Simply put, if the cheeseburger is the best of a series of no-so-good dining choices, that still doesn’t make it a great burger.
As for the fries, I don’t mind soggy fries, so I’m looking forward to this soon.
On the day United devalues its frequent flyer program, affecting millions of consumers, Matthew chooses to instead brief us re a ‘taste test’ of its french fries.
Oh honey child, patience is a virtue.
How does the four cheese skillet burger stack up vs other ones? Haven’t had it, but it doesn’t look as appetizing in the picture as previous ones.
The last one, the beer cheese pretzel one, was fantastic. By far the best one I’ve ever had. Was disappointed when it got rotated out but doesn’t seem like they keep any of them for that long.
This was good – though you can see I left half the bun. I agree the pretzel beer cheese one was the best of the best.
I could have written the exact same review. I just had this meal last night and my fries were similar (the bun was a bit crispy though) and also only ate them because of a 2.5 hour delay.
One thing I think might need verifying is the hub-to-hub exclusivity. I believe it’s only available on flights originating from a hub. I pre-ordered mine for IAH-DSM, and had done so on the same flight a week earlier (flooding at IAH prevented me from enjoying it on that flight, though).
Live and let’s fry
French Fires? Oh no!
I had the burger and fries last Friday on ORD-DFW, so it seems it’s not exclusively hub to hub flights. I agree mostly. The fries weren’t great, but my expectations were low and they weren’t that bad. I’ve certainly had worse fries before. Fries that aren’t deep fried are just never going to be that great.
Interesting data point. Memos have specifically said only availble on hub to hub flights. I did not have this option from PIT-IAH, only IAH-LAX. Maybe from hubs only?
FWIW, I’m flying IAD-DFW next Tuesday and the cheeseburger is available for pre-order (and you better believe I got my order in). Maybe it’s a recent change but sure looks like it’s available FROM hubs, not necessarily hub-to-hub.
Now, I’ll almost certainly be a beached whale after eating in the Polaris lounge and then downing that cheeseburger, but hey, no pain, no gain…
Nice. Where are you starting from?
Starting in MAD. Delta PS on the way over, Polaris on the way back. Miraculously I got a reasonable connection in IAD without having to pay the full flex J award rate. Maybe I’ll actually write about this one less than a year after taking the trip!
Why are wide bodies excluded from pre ordering? I have never understood this. I always try to get on a 777 with lie flats as opposed to a 737. Why no pre orders?
I know – it’s ridiculous – but I’ve been told UA’s catering contractors cannot handle it.
Wasn’t it available for a very brief month or so like a year back, and then it went away again? Orettt sure you reported on it if I recall correctly.
“United has previously said that the cheeseburger is its most popular food item onboard”
Given the low standards that UA’s catering has fallen to, is that really saying much? The burger in the first picture looks like it also is something served in a school cafeteria…but hey, at least you enjoyed eating that.
I wonder if they figure out how to make the fries work, if it will be added to the pre-arrival beef wellington meals as well…
I love a good cheeseburger, but it’s just not what I’m looking for in a premium cabin meal. It’s low hanging fruit.
Swiss, french fries…?!?
Airplane ovens are convection ovens, as are “air fryers.” You’d think they could get the fries right.
No interest in the burger. I don’t eat beef and never really was super into burgers when I did. Would be nice if United did a grilled chicken sandwich.
My taste buds just won’t work well at 37.000 feet after seeing this!
The onion and jalapeno would be a deal breaker for me. In late 2004 I flew Continental from SNA-IAH and was served a complimentary cheeseburger (no onion or jalapeno) and it was pretty tasty.
The ovens are convection ovens able to crisp food, they should have been on the highest setting for the French fries to make them crispy for 10 minutes.
Had that yesterday. Burger tasted good, but the bun was a little overcooked and hard. The fries were awful. Cold and tasted freezer burned.
Seriously!? An air fryer would have made them crispier? How stupid are you? Of course that is the case and of COURSE an airplane can’t plug in an air fryer. Ugh…. What a stupid review.
Shabbat Shalom to you too.