I’ve heard of some crazy delays over the years, but nothing quite like the delay of United Airlines flight UA19 to Milan on Sunday. On the one hand, the delay was pathetic. On the other hand, it was genius.
UA19 EWR-MXP Delayed…Due To EXPIRED Business Class Meals (And How United Airlines Solved The Problem)
The incident was shared on FlyerTalk:
On July 2nd, 2023, I boarded flight UA19 EWR-MXP. Departure of the flight was delayed by approximately one hour (as usual on this route). After we were all onboard, an additional 30 minutes passed without any information regarding the delay. It was only when the [purser] made an announcement that we were informed about the extended delay. Apparently, the delay was caused by expired meals loaded for the business class passengers.
We are not talking about an out-station airport or a spoke on the network; this occurred at a major United hub and its main transatlantic gateway.
How does an expired meal get loaded in the first place? How does one even know that the meals are expired? Was there no one in the catering kitchen who caught this? Was it flight attendants who noticed an expiration date or was there mold or other signs of spoilage?
My understanding of Polaris Business Class meals (based on the way they were served during the pandemic) is that there are no expiration dates, though perhaps a flight attendant can chime in and clarify.
I’ve asked United about this – let’s see if we receive a response.
Passengers onboard faced a three-hour delay while waiting for catering to assemble new meals for business class and deliver them to the aircraft. That was deemed unacceptable so United came up with a plan to expedite the delay:
To rectify the situation, United Airlines offered all business class passengers a voucher to purchase food at the airport before departure. Eventually, the flight took off with a delay of approximately two hours.
The key question is how large the voucher was: I have been unable to confirm that, but it would be quite telling, no?
Of course, some may lament that Newark concessionaires are run by OTG, but I have enjoyed some nice meals at Newark Airport. Frankly, I would rather have a medium rare filet from Saison than anything served onboard:
This was $60 though…I doubt Polaris passengers received a voucher that high.
In any case, I like the solution: there is enough variety in Newark Terminal C to give passengers a choice and the entire process of buying food and bringing it back onboard saved at least an hour and possibly more versus waiting for fresh catering.
When a United flight to Newark was catered with “expired” meals, business class passengers were sent with a voucher back into the terminal to buy food for their flight.
Now this is still pathetic: something like this should never have happened in the first place. But given that it did, I like how United thought outside of the box.
But it also makes you wonder how often meals that may have expired slip by unnoticed…
Have you experienced a catering delay on United?