You can now pre-order your inflight meal on select United flights

Dec 11, 2019

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The days of United flight attendants running out of your preferred meal selection are coming to a close.

United now lets you choose your inflight meal on select routes within a window of five days to one day before departure. If you happen to be flying an eligible flight, the carrier will email you five days before departure to invite you to pre-order your meal. If you don’t receive an email, you can try choosing your meal on UA’s dedicated website using your confirmation number and last name.

United tested a similar service on a single route earlier this year, and I’m really glad to see that it’s being expanded. For now, only certain premium-cabin itineraries departing from the carrier’s hubs in Los Angeles (LAX) and Washington, DC (IAD) are eligible for this service. If you’re flying from elsewhere or to LAX or IAD, you won’t yet receive the option to pre-order your meal.

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Once you’ve entered your information, you’ll be brought to a page where you can choose an entree for your upcoming flight. If you’re not happy with any of the entree choices, this could be a great time to order one of United’s special meals.

In order to test the service, we tried accessing the meal-selection portal with a number of flights the TPG team had booked from IAD and LAX, but weren’t able to pre-order meals on any. 

According to a United spokesperson, the airline is incrementally expanding the flights that have access to this new service. United will be adding markets in January and February of next year, with the goal of having the entire network covered soon after that. We’ll be sure to share more details once we learn more the carrier’s rollout plans.

Note that you’ll want to be very careful when choosing your preferred meal. Once you make your choice, you won’t be able to change your meal preference until you get on the plane. Once onboard, you may have luck asking a flight attendant for another meal option.

Although you can’t make changes to your preselected meal, your meal order will be canceled if your itinerary changes. So if you end up changing your flight, make sure to go back into the portal to select your meal again.

United Japanese meal (Photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy)

This development won’t be helpful for users of UA’s same-day change policy or for those whose upgrades clear on the day of departure. Since you cannot make meal choices within 24 hours of departure, you’ll need to wait until you get onboard to order your meal if you make a same-day change or confirm a last-minute upgrade.

Overall, this is great news for United fliers. I can’t wait for this service to be expanded, especially as Delta and American passengers have enjoyed this benefit for a while. In the meantime, if you’re booked on an eligible flight, check your email and login to the web portal to make your pick. Your taste buds will thank you later.

Featured image by Zach Honig/The Points Guy

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