United Airlines is further improving its soft product to Hawaii and premium transcontinental flights with a number of catering changes starting later this month, impacting both economy class and premium cabins.
Catering Upgrades Coming To Hawaii + Premium Transcon Flights On United Airlines
United Airlines has recently improved its service to Hawaii by adding specially-themed amenity kits, restoring the popular “Halfway To Hawaii” game (where you can win a prize for guessing the exact time the flight crosses over the halfway point), and even restoring meals to economy class on longer Hawaiian flights. Building upon those improvements, service on United’s Hawaii flights is about to get better.
Re-Opening Of Catering Facilities in Kona (KOA) and Lihue (LIH)
For the first time since the pandemic began, United will re-open flight kitchens on the Big Island in Kona and on Kauai in Lihue. This will allow the provision of meals in both economy and business class. Currently, first class passengers receive a hot entree double-catered from the mainland along with shelf-stable snacks (rather than a fresh salad with bread and ice cream). Economy class passengers on longer flights (to Denver or Chicago) receive a packaged sandwich rather than a full meal.
With the flight kitchens re-opening on September 15th, first class passengers will receive full meals on all routes from Kona or Lihue and economy class passengers will now receive a more substantial meal with a cold main course, bread roll, and fresh fruit on departing flights:
Passengers traveling to Hawaii from Denver or Houston will still receive a cold sandwich on Hawaii-bound flights. Furthermore, snacks will no longer be provisioned in plastic bags, but guests will be able to choose from a selection of three snacks from a basket.
One of the lowest hanging fruits of a decent first class meal is good bread. Throughout the pandemic, United has provisioned economy class packaged bread, that is generally not worth opening. Recently, United added hot bread on some Mainland flights. Now, United will add hot pretzel rolls to Hawaiian flights (as well as premium transcontinental flights between New York (JFK/EWR) and San Francisco (SFO) / Los Angeles (LAX)).
This is such a long overdue move, but nevertheless meaningful because it will finally mean edible bread once again.
New Sorbet Dessert
In premium cabins, a new dessert will replace pre-packaged containers of gelato or sorbet. Initially, the selection will be a sorbet, served in a globe-shaped bowl with fruit toppings already on it.
This will apply to both first class and Premium Plus, United’s premium economy product, and apply to premium transcontinental and all Hawaiian flights except for the Los Angeles – Hilo route.
Pre-Arrival Meal On Hawaiian + Transcon Flights
Perhaps more importantly than the bread or new dessert, United is adding pre-arrival meal service to longhaul Hawaii and premium transcontinental flights in both first class and premium economy.
Initial choices will include a burger or Soba Noodle salad bowl, served with fruit on the side.
Currently, even flights like Newark – Honolulu, which clock in at over 10 hours, do not offer a pre-arrival meal. Even more interesting is the addition of these meals on premium transcontinental flights, which are routinely under five hours in a eastbound direction.
It has been more than 15 years since United offered two meals on these transcontinental flights.
The pre-arrival service will began on September 15th.
Pre-Arrival “Pie In the Sky” On West Coast – Hawaii Flights
While flights between the West Coast and Hawaii will not qualify for a second meal prior to landing, United will offer hot “Pie In the Sky” desserts from Eli’s Cheesecake, a delicious treat.
Every single one of these changes is a step in the right direction. United is finally recognizing that the cost-savings cutbacks no longer cut it. Now all we need is real cups and glasses back!
What do you think about these catering changes on United?