Predeparture drinks, glassware are making a comeback on United

Nov 16, 2021

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It’s the day that many United premium-cabin flyers have been waiting for.

The Chicago-based carrier is officially bringing back predeparture beverages in time for the holiday season, a company spokesperson confirmed to TPG.

Beginning on Tuesday, Nov. 23, those seated in the pointy end of United flights will enjoy the choice between sparkling wine and water during the boarding process. This includes both domestic and international routes.

Then, just over a week later, on Wednesday, Dec. 1, beverages will once again be served using glassware and ceramic coffee mugs in premium cabins.

Two varieties of glasses are reintroduced in domestic first class and six different types for international routes, including Champagne flutes and cordial glasses.

Predeparture beverages on domestic routes will be served in plastic cups, and United will use polycarbonate glasses for welcome beverages in Polaris cabins.

(Photo courtesy of United)

The return of predeparture beverages and real glassware has been high on the list of requests from TPG readers and staffers who are also United flyers.

The airline stopped using real glassware and suspended predeparture beverages at the outset of the pandemic. The airline moved to a low-touch service process, which included just a single tray of food served with plastic cups in long-haul Polaris cabins.

United Polaris mid-pandemic meal. (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Since then, we’ve learned a lot about how the virus is spread. With mask mandates and increasing vaccination rates, many flyers have said that the move to restore glassware and predeparture beverages is long overdue.

You can find the full list of what’s returning below, and note that all United’s glassware is coming out of storage — a spokesperson told TPG that the airline stored its original stock of glasses during the pandemic.

Related: Here’s what food and drinks you can expect on your next flight

Of the Big 3 U.S. carriers, United has already brought back much of its pre-pandemic inflight catering offerings. The airline is once again serving real meals in domestic first class, and the service in the Polaris and Premium Plus cabins continues to improve, too.

Notably, American Airlines beat United to the punch on restoring glassware; the Fort Worth-based carrier started stocking its jets with real glasses once again on Nov. 10.

Either way, the great news is that United continues to bring back its pre-pandemic offerings, one glass at a time.

United’s glassware offering

Domestic first class

  • Highball glasses
  • Wine glasses

United Polaris business

  • Rock glasses
  • Wine glasses
  • Flute glasses
  • Cordial glasses
  • Ceramic mugs
  • Polycarbonate glass: used for the welcome beverages on international flights.

Featured photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy

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