United is restoring two cutbacks in Polaris Business Class on late-evening flights from Washington Dulles to Europe while extending its mandatory express dining trial another month.
Last month I wrote about a one-month trial program at Washington Dulles on four late-evening departures to Europe:
- Dublin (UA126)
- Frankfurt (UA932)
- Lisbon (UA168)
- London (UA924)
In an effort to maximize onboard sleep, business class passengers were served appetizer + salad + main course on a single tray followed by dessert from the galley (rather than via cart).
While United originally promised that no food would be cut, it actually eliminated post-dinner cheese plates as well as the hot breakfast option prior to landing. That led to charges that these changes were not about sleep at all but only about saving a few bucks.
United Restores Cheese And Hot Breakfast
I reached out to United to find out how the trial went. A spokesperson informed me that cheese and hot breakfast would be restored and the trial would continue another month:
We continue to receive helpful feedback from our customers and as a result, we are making some adjustments to the United Polaris late night service test. On our late night United Polaris service test on three late night flights departing from IAD, we are adding back the cheese plate to the dessert service as well as adding a hot meal option for breakfast. We will continue to gather feedback as we extend this test through May.
Thus, only 2/3 petit four choices remain cut from the “usual” meal service.
I am certainly happy that United has re-introduced cheese and hot breakfast this month, even if it should not have been cut in the first place.
While it would create more work for flight attendants, I still believe a more on-demand dining service is the way to go on these late-night flights. Offer everything a la carte, including the appetizers and salads. Offer a nice cheese plate with ripe fruit as one of the main course choices. If someone wants to eat breakfast after takeoff, fine. Dispensing with two set meal services and keeping the lights off the entire flight would encourage rest and reduce food waste.
Perhaps that is simply not possible when flight attendants already feel short-staffed. Perhaps it would actually create more disturbance if FAs are serving meals at different times throughout the night. But I still think it would provide a better passenger experience and save United some money on its catering bill.
Some people only want a cheese plate and then a hot breakfast in the morning, so it was appropriate for United to restore these cutbacks. As the trial continues at Washington Dulles, United has the chance to try something even more adventurous than putting everything on a single tray.