While details have yet to emerge, United Airlines plans to shortly reintroduce the ability for first class passengers to order meals in advance on select flights. It will also use technology to better provision catering on flights.
United Airlines Will Bring Back Meal Pre-Orders In First Class
Prior to the pandemic, United had introduced meal service pre-orders on a limited number of domestic routes. In fact, United’s Chief Customer Officer Toby Enqvist had told Live and Let’s Fly that the meal service pre-order program would roll out to all domestic flights with meal service in 2021. But plans to expand this systemwide, as American Airlines and Alaska Airlines have done for years, were interrupted by the pandemic.
Now United is again using technology to be smarter about catering provisioning and ensuring that passenger meal preferences are tracked and properly prioritized. Currently, United has no insight on what customers order or how often they do not receive their first choice. Through the use of the flight attendant app, United will have additional insight into consumer preference.
On the customer side, United will introduce the ability to pre-reserve meals. Prior to the pandemic, this was available via an email link sent in the days leading up to the flight. A new solution which is integrated into united.com or the mobile app is envisioned for the future.
Flight Attendants Will Use App, Not Paper, To Take Meals Orders
Perhaps the better phraseology would be flight attendants should use the app to take meal orders. This technology is not new, but it is being refreshed to more dynamically track meal orders and provide analytics to United so that it can better provision catering on future flights.
Too often, flight attendants simply go from front to back using a printed manifest and pen, not prioritizing meal service based upon status. While I prefer to sit in the rear of the first class cabin, I rarely do precisely because I hate missing out on my first meal choice.
But if flight attendants use this app, it will prioritize meals based upon status, eliminating concern about missing out on your first choice if you have MileagePlus status and are seated in the rear of the cabin.
As United seeks to raise its NPS, this would be an important step toward consistency, which is a mark of professionalism and ultimately excellence. United also plans to eventually allow customers in economy class to pre-reserve snacks or meals for purchase.
Using technology like the flight attendant app to track meal order preference will lead to smarter catering provisioning. Not only will that make passengers happier, but it will also minimize waste. This is a long overdue, but welcome move on United.