United will begin offering free economy meals on select Hawaii flights

Jul 29, 2021

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From gate to gate, United’s longest domestic flights clock in at over 10-and-a-half hours. Factoring in time to board and deplane, flyers will spend some 11 hours onboard the aircraft — that’s a long time to go without an inflight meal.

As Live and Let’s Fly reports, the airline’s finally doing something to fix that.

Beginning Aug. 1, economy passengers will get a full meal on select flights to and from Hawaii, bringing United’s coach offering closer in line with that of Hawaiian Airlines. The move follows United’s earlier sandwich “trials” on select Hawaii flights in 2019 and 2020.

As of this Sunday, passengers on morning flights can expect a breakfast of fresh fruit, yogurt, a croissant and granola bar. For lunch and dinner, the airline will serve Hawaiian quinoa salad with grilled chicken, fresh fruit, Hawaiian bread and dessert. Vegetarians will have the option of Hawaiian-style sweet potato and macaroni rainbow salad, instead of the chicken salad above.

The last time I saw full economy meals in a domestic United cabin was on the carrier’s special 747 retirement flight — TPG’s Nick Ellis was served the relative feast pictured below.

(Photo by Nick Ellis/The Points Guy)

Notably, this latest offering won’t quite compare with what flyers got on that special Honolulu (HNL) hop — all of the meals be served cold, and will be available on the following routes:

  • Chicago (ORD) to and from Honolulu
  • Chicago to and from Maui (OGG)
  • Newark (EWR) to and from Honolulu
  • Newark to and from Maui
  • Washington, D.C. (IAD) to and from Honolulu

Several other flights will include economy meal service as well, but only on the flights from Hawaii. Those include:

  • Honolulu to Denver (DEN)
  • Honolulu to Houston (IAH)
  • Maui to Denver
  • Maui to Houston

As for what to expect on other carriers, Hawaiian Airlines serves a full hot meal in economy on its flights from Austin (AUS), Boston (BOS), New York-JFK and Orlando (MCO), and a hot sandwich on flights to and from the West Coast. American Airlines offers a meal to coach flyers as well, but only on flights to and from Dallas/Ft. Worth (DFW).

United passengers on other Hawaii flights may have the option of purchasing snacks onboard, but inventory is typically limited, so be sure to make your request as early as possible. The airline will also offer a new pre-order option beginning this fall.

Featured image captured from United’s final 747 flight to HNL by Nick Ellis/The Points Guy

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