Each week, my Meal of the Week feature examines an airline meal from my travels over the years. This may be a meal from earlier in the week or it may be a meal served over a decade ago.
Earlier this week I wrote about United’s planned resumption of Fifth Freedom service between Hong Kong and Singapore. At the moment, the service will be cargo only, but passenger service may return at a later point. The news reminded me of my own intra-Asia flights on United over the years.
In March 2015, I flew from Los Angeles to Hong Kong the long way on United. Rather than flying via San Francisco, I flew from Los Angeles to Tokyo, Tokyo to Singapore, and Singapore to Hong Kong. All three flights were operated by United, which used to designate Tokyo Narita as a hub and offered service to many destinations within Asia.
I had upgraded to business class, but received an elusive operational upgrade to first class from Tokyo to Singapore, a flight of seven hours.
Dinner was served after takeoff, starting with mixed nuts and an appetizer of Pâté (I didn’t touch it…) and feta cheese.
Usually a soup course follows, but because this flight was “only” seven hours, no soup was on the menu. Instead, I had a green salad.
For my main course, I chose roasted chicken and was served a leg-thigh combination, the first and only time I have ever been served dark chicken meat on an airplane. It was served with green beans, carrots, and mashed potatoes. Narita catering is always delicious, with western meals better than any U.S. United station.
I skipped the cheese and had an ice cream sundae for dessert:
We landed in Singapore where I had a brief layover before my “connection” to Hong Kong. No double-upgrade on that flight…
Shortly after takeoff, breakfast was served, and was again one of the most unique breakfasts I have had on United. The appetizer, sliced fruit and a croissant, was hardly unique.
But the main course was poached eggs over friend potatoes in a hollandaise sauce served with cook tomatoes and grilled sausage. This was easily one of the best breakfasts I have ever had on United.
Fifth Freedom routes within Asia represent a smart way for carriers to maintain service to several cities when demand is low. With everyone suspending flights, it’s not like there will necessarily be nonstop alternatives. Plus, as you can see above, you’re in store for great meals.