United Suspending Some In-Flight Meals Following Catering Snafu

Sep 7, 2018

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Update 9/7/18: Full meal service may not be available for “a week or so,” according to an updated statement from United:

“Meal options on select domestic flights out of our hub in Newark will be limited due to maintenance that is being performed at our Newark kitchen facility. Our customers have come to expect high quality food on our flights. Many of our customers will not be affected, and our popular buy on board products will continue to be available. We are reaching out to customers ahead of their flights to apologize and to provide compensation to help minimize the inconvenience. Our team is working to complete the work on our kitchen and we plan to resume meal service within the next week or so.”

Some potentially not-so-great news for United passengers flying from Newark (EWR) this weekend. As confirmed by the airline, refrigerators at the carrier’s catering facility (which I visited in 2015) are currently undergoing repairs — as a result, hot meal service will not be available on some flights.

A United spokesperson clarified that international flights are being prioritized — while customers traveling in Polaris business class shouldn’t be impacted at all, domestic flyers will have to settle for snack boxes on some flights.

Customers will need to settle for packaged snacks on some flights. Photo by Zach Honig.

The airline is emailing affected customers in advance, so keep an eye on your inbox:

“Due to maintenance work being done in our kitchen, the food options on your flight may be limited or unavailable. Snack boxes will be provided in place of our usual meal offerings, and our Newark team will offer you a voucher should you prefer to purchase your own meal prior to boarding.”

The message also outlines compensation options — in the case of one TPG reader, a Premier 1K member, the airline was proactively offering either a $100 electronic travel certificate or 5,000 miles.

This traveler was booked in first class on a dinner flight to Las Vegas (LAS) — compensation options may vary depending on elite status level and route. We value United miles at 1.4 cents apiece, so in theory the travel voucher is a better option, however they can only be applied to flights operated by United, and need to be redeemed within one year.

A refrigeration fix is apparently underway, so hopefully it shouldn’t be long before full meal service returns to EWR. In the meantime, I recommend taking United up on its offer for a meal voucher, and redeem it at Classified in Terminal C — assuming you’re able to get a reservation.

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