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It’s no secret that we at TPG are fans of first class. Sure, we still get a thrill from the wonder of flight, but flying first-class makes that experience even better. How else can you shower in the sky or sleep in a double bed in a private suite sailing over the Pacific?

Domestic first class doesn’t bring nearly the perks of international first class. However, a more-comfortable chair, a refreshing “PDB” (pre-departure beverage) and a tasty snack or meal sure makes the trip more pleasant than economy. Well, United is cutting back on part of the benefit, at least on “select flights.”

Reports emerged on FlyerTalk on September 1 that United has made some substantial cuts to its meal offerings on domestic first class flights. Here are the full details of the reported changes:

Flights 2:30-2:59 hours [in length]: 
Breakfast: Remove breakfast breads only
Lunch: Two cold meal options and a chocolate truffle (versus one hot and one cold option, mixed nuts/bread/side)
Dinner: One hot meal/one cold meal option (versus two hot options); offers mixed nuts/bread/salad/dessert

Flights 3:00-3:59 [hours in length]
Breakfast/Lunch: No change
Dinner: One hot meal/one cold meal option (versus two hot options); offers mixed nuts/bread/salad/dessert

Flights 4:00-5:24 (excluding transcons) 
Breakfast, lunch and dinner have cold and hot meal options (versus two hot meals)
Pre-plated dessert replaces ice cream/sorbet on lunch/dinner flights

We reached out to United for confirmation of these changes and a spokesperson responded: “We are testing adjustments to meal service in select premium cabin domestic and Canadian flights. This is a test on select flights only.”

It seems like at least some United flights between California to Chicago are among the affected routes. FlyerTalk user jayzala reported receiving two hot meal options on this route a week ago; a week later, he received one hot and old cold option flying the same route.

Another user reported substantial cuts to the catering on his Chicago (ORD) to Houston (IAH) flight. Scheduled for two hours and 40 minutes, this block was seemingly most affected by the changes. He reports:

On Sept. 1st I was one of the first victims of the “improved” menu. This is the “lunch” I was offered on ORD-IAH flight at 12.40. Literally 3 cold, small chicken slices, a leaf of lettuce and “salad.” Nothing else. No dessert, no cookie, no nuts. Crappy, crappy, crappy.

While these changes may seem minor to some, the changes certainly seem to be angering United frequent flyers online. In one forum, some flyers went so far as to say these changes drop United to the bottom of the big three (American, Delta, United) when it comes to on-board meals.

This is a disappointing turn from an airline still recovering from a major PR blunder earlier this year. And it’s a confusing change coming from an airline promising improvements to frequent flyers — who are exactly the ones most angered by these cutbacks.

H/T: View From The Wing

Have you flown United first-class since September 1? If so, have you noticed any differences?

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