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In the wake of switching their MileagePlus frequent flyer program to a revenue-based system, it looks like United is hoping that the way to its most loyal customers’ disillusioned hearts is through their stomachs. As of February 1, United will be rolling out enhancements to its premium-cabin dining policies on flights within the U.S., Canada, Caribbean, and some markets in Mexico, including new meal entrées, expanded meal service on transcon and Hawaii flights, and newly-improved breakfast breads, snack options and side salads.
Per UA Insider on Milepoint, new entrees will include ingredients and recipes sourced from originating hubs, and aim to be heartier and more creative. Choices will include dishes like sliced New Mexico sausage with potato gratin and roasted pepper sauce, lobster mac-and-cheese and a side of broccoli rabe, and Chinese noodles and vegetables served with vegetable gyoza. On longer mid-cons (those between four to five hours and 19 minutes), the number of entrée choices will increase from two to three, with one entrée choice continuing to be vegetarian.
United has also re-booted its entire line-up of breakfast breads, snacks, side salads and desserts on its North American flights. A selection of 25 new snacks will rotate through in-flight baskets, there’ll be new bake-on-board cookie flavors (created for United by Otis Spunkmeyer), and on longer flights, dessert courses of sorbet (for lunch) and gelato/ice cream (for dinner) will be introduced.
Here’s a summary of United’s new dining-policy changes, detailed by flight length:
199 miles or less: Beverage service with biscotti on morning flights or a snack mix on afternoon/evening flights.
200-799 miles: Light breakfast (e.g., scones, muffins, or pound cake) will be served on early morning flights, while flights departing after 10 a.m. will be include a choice of snacks and fresh fruit. Flights from Chicago O’Hare (ORD) to/from Hartford (BDL), New York LaGuardia (LGA), Newark (EWR), and from EWR to/from Atlanta (ATL) will receive full meals during traditional meal times.
800-1,499 miles: On most flights departing between 5 a.m.-8 p.m., there’ll be full meal service with two entrée choices. Lunch choices will be a protein salad served with soup or a sandwich paired with a side salad, while dinner service will consist of two hot entrée choices, each served with a side salad. Flights departing between 1:30-3:59 p.m. and those departing after 8:01 p.m. will include a selection of snacks and fresh fruit.
1,500-2,299 miles: Full meal service on flights departing between 5 a.m.-9 p.m. will include three entrée choices; lunches will end with sorbet for dessert, while dinnertime desserts will be gelato or ice cream with a choice of toppings. Flights departing after 9:01 p.m. will include a selection of snacks and fresh fruit.
2,300 miles or more: On all flights in this category, there’ll be either a pre-arrival refreshment or snack. Transcon and Hawaii flights departing before 9 p.m. will offer a multi-course meal service with 3 entrée choices, while longer-haul Hawaii flights will have a mid-flight selection of packaged snacks and fresh fruit.
p.s. Premium Service (New York JFK to/from LAX and SFO): These routes will include multi-course meals at lunch and dinner with three entrée choices and ice cream sundaes. Pre-arrival, passengers with morning landings will be served breakfast breads, while those with afternoon or evening landings will receive bake-on-board cookies.
Beginning in March, premium cabin meals on United Express flights of at least 800 miles will be upgraded to freshly-prepared food, and flights less than 800 miles will have new selections of packaged snacks. Later this year, United will announce more dining enhancements in BusinessFirst on p.s. Premium Service routes and in Economy on long-haul international flights.
As United starts rolling out these new dining changes, I’d love to hear what loyal MileagePlus customers and other United passengers think about them. Please circle back and share your thoughts!
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