United’s inflight food and beverage offerings are getting a makeover
The next time you fly with United, you might want to check the menu.
On Wednesday, the Chicago-based carrier announced a host of updates to its inflight food and beverage offerings, according to an internal memo confirmed by the airline.
Starting on April 1, the revamped onboard dining menu will be available on select flights between Hawaii and several hub locations, with the full list of eligible routes below. Flyers will have a choice of new snack boxes, a la carte snacks and a variety of alcoholic beverages, including White Claw, making United the only airline serving this fan-favorite drink onboard.
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United also is unveiling two new snack boxes, Takeoff and Recline, joining the existing Tapas box which will continue to be offered for purchase.
The Takeoff box includes protein-filled fare, including salami, cheese and dried fruits, very similar to today's Select snack box. The assortment will sell for $10.
The new $8 Recline box will include popcorn, pretzels, Oreos and gummy bears.
In addition to snack boxes, United has historically sold individually packaged munchies, like chips and mixed nuts. The carrier is introducing three new options, to join the existing $4 can of Pringles.
This will include a trail mix, dark chocolate-dipped dried bananas and sweet potato chips with salsa. Each will retail for $5.
Finally, on to the good stuff.
UA's got four new alcoholic beverages available for purchase for $8 each, including Michelob Ultra, Breckenridge Brewery juice drop hazy IPA, White Claw mango hard seltzer and Kona Brewing Co. big wave golden ale.
Related: Here’s what food and drinks you can expect on your next flight
Domestic premium-cabin flyers can enjoy all the new beverages, including White Claw, for free. The only new beverage for international Polaris cabins will be Michelob Ultra, replacing Miller Lite.
When United debuts the revamped dining offerings, the carrier will exclusively accept contactless payment through the United app for those seated in coach.
When the flight attendant passes by your row, you’ll be asked if you want to purchase a snack or drink. If you do, the crew will pull up your profile on a mobile tablet and charge your stored payment method. Receipts will be emailed, keeping the purchase process completely touchless — in line with guidance from the Cleveland Clinic.
MileagePlus frequent flyers can store a debit or credit card in their traveler profile, and it will automatically be available for all future trips where contactless payment is available. If you’re not a MileagePlus member or choose not to save a payment method to your profile, you’ll be prompted to temporarily store a card during online and in-app check-in.
Top-tier Premier 1K and invite-only Global Services members seated in coach will continue to receive a complimentary snack box and alcoholic drink, subject to availability.
Starting April 1, the new for-purchase menu offerings will be available on flights between Honolulu (HNL) and Chicago O’Hare (ORD), Houston (IAH), Newark (EWR) and Guam (GUM), as well as on service between Maui (OGG) and Chicago O’Hare (ORD).
Less than two weeks later, on April 12, United will expand the options to all Hawaii flights over six hours, as well as premium transcon service, including:
- Flights between Denver (DEN), Chicago O'Hare (ORD), Newark (EWR), Houston (IAH), Guam (GUM) and Honolulu (HNL), Maui (OGG), Kona (KOA) and Lihue (LIH)
- Transcon flights between Newark (EWR), Boston (BOS), New York-JFK and San Francisco (SFO) and Los Angeles (LAX)
You can find the full menu details in the soon-to-debut app-based digital menu, or on United's new dedicated webpage: United.com/snacktime
As for when we can expect these new offerings to debut network-wide, United told TPG that the current plan calls for a gradual ramp-up this summer. Of course, that timeline likely assumes infections remain low and the accelerated pace of vaccinations continues.
Until then, most coach flyers should consider purchasing some food in the airport before departure. Otherwise, snack choices will be limited to United's all-in-one snack bag.