United to Eliminate Drink Carts From Polaris Cabins
Update 2/11/18: The airline has clarified that unfortunately the "wine arc" (re: wine flight) will be eliminated as well, though passengers can still request to try as many wines as they wish.
United Airlines confirmed that the airline will eliminate drink cart service in its Polaris international business class cabin beginning May 1 of this year.
Currently, these carts provide passengers with custom Bloody Marys and mimosas on morning flights — typically outbound from Europe, or daytime eastbound transatlantic flights — and wine carts on all other routes.
The wine carts offer a choice of six wines, and travelers can even order flights to sample three or all six vintages.
The official line from United is business-class passengers want more time to relax, and removing the drink carts speeds up beverage service.
United spokesperson Jonathan Guerin told TPG's editor-at-large Zach Honig today:
"This change is meant to increase the speed of the beverage service to allow customers more time for relaxation, which is what they have told us is their top priority. Removing the dedicated cart service will help speed up the service so customers can relax — Bloody Marys and the wine will still be available."
However, United also admitted it was 300% over budget on wine this past spring in an internal email to its flight attendants as reported by View from the Wing:
Common sense suggests that if showcasing the wine offerings incentivized passengers to drink more, then the move to remove the carts may not be nearly as altruistic as United would have us believe.