United Airlines Improving First Class Meal Service

United Airlines Improving First Class Meal Service

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United Airlines will further be restoring its premium cabin meal service as of June 2022. That’s pretty exciting, since hopefully it spells the end of those disgusting packaged sandwiches United has been serving for the past year.

United domestic first class meal service changes

As of June 1, 2022, United Airlines will be greatly improving its first class meal service. Specifically, the airline will be reintroducing meal trays in domestic first class on flights of 800+ miles. On mainline flights the meal trays will have a hot main course option, while on regional flights the trays will have a cold main course option.

For context, in June 2021, United Airlines slowly began restoring meal service in first class. At the time the airline reintroduced meals on domestic flights of 1,500+ miles, and on hub-to-hub flights of over 800 miles.

However, most domestic flights of under 800 miles were served the dreaded packaged sandwiches. Yes, this is technically hot food, but not the good kind.

United’s first class packaged sandwiches
United’s first class packaged sandwiches

So a full service on a tray should be a great improvement for flights between 800 and 1,500 miles.

United first class will get more substantial meals

United international business class meal service changes

As of June 1, 2022, United Airlines will be largely restoring its pre-pandemic service in international business class (known as Polaris). Since the start of the pandemic, United has been serving meals all at once, with main courses generally served covered.

The service will finally be restored to something similar to what was offered pre-pandemic. This includes the reintroduction of a coursed meal offering, including table linens, and mixed nuts and a drink before the meal starts.

Also as of June 1, 2022, United will bring back spirits to international premium economy and economy, to accompany beer and wine. Liquor will be complimentary in premium economy, and will be available for purchase in economy.

United is restoring international business class service

Bottom line

United Airlines is further restoring its inflight service as of June 1, 2022. The airline will be bringing back “real” meals in domestic first class on flights of 800+ miles, while the airline will be restoring a coursed meal service in international business class.

While United was largely leading the way when it came to restoring pre-pandemic service at first (in mid-2021), the airline has been lagging a bit since then, as most competitors have restored pre-pandemic service at this point. It’s nice to see United finally catching up there.

What do you make of United restoring service in domestic first class and international business class?

Conversations (39)
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  1. Len rubin Guest

    All first class meals for the past two months, regardless of cities, have had the same miserable choices. There is no different meal choice even on a round trip so you get the same meal going each way. The choices are the same horrid pepper filled options. Why should I pay first class and not have any meal variation?

  2. Eric Guest

    I hope this will put pressure on AA to return hot meals in domestic first class on flights 800+ (or even 900+) miles. Currently AA only offers hot entrees on 1500+ mile flights, and the cold options on shorter flights are very bad. A charcuterie plate for dinner? Come on.

  3. T.V. Guest

    Just returned from Italy on United. The coach class food was in edible. Some balls that were supposed to be chicken a cold couscous type salad with No flavor and for a snack, dry unappetizing bread sticks with non dip or sauce, no peanut butter just the dry flavorless bread sticks. Next time can I have a cold sandwich and chips. It would be a huge improvement!!

  4. iamhere Guest

    Nobody flies for the food or chooses an airline because of it

    1. Pradeep Chandra Guest

      True, but food n drinks do matter for a long distance or overseas passenger. I flew business class (Polaris) in 2021 n 2022 fm Seattle to Delhi, n found food very tepid. I will have to rethink before flying United again if they don't improve food. It's good to learn that they are improving from June 1 I will wait n watch before booking flight for my September trip.

    2. Nightliner Guest

      True - but I think people avoid certain airlines because of the food (or lack thereof). When prices and timings are not much different, I would for example choose AF over KL or TK over LH. I have not got many memories of actually GOOD airline meals (save for TK, who are one of the few carriers to actually serve restaurant quality stuff), but plenty of inedible "but why?!" memories.

    3. Mark Guest

      Not true. I always check meal service and, if it’s poor or non-existent, I’ll choose another airline or fly economy. I’m not saying I represent “everybody,” but neither do you.

    4. John Guest

      @iamhere

      Sweeping statement, much???

    5. James W. Guest

      I do. The hot meal is one of the main things I look for when flying First.

  5. Eric Guest

    Glad that it looks pretty, Lucky. For me, yet another first class cross country with no gluten-free meal option. OK, only used those expiring plus points to upgrade and it only happened the day, before but United apparently has no ability, and apparently has no intention, to use the information in my United profile to try to make even something modest available. Gluten-free is not a choice but a medical necessity for some people. At...

    Glad that it looks pretty, Lucky. For me, yet another first class cross country with no gluten-free meal option. OK, only used those expiring plus points to upgrade and it only happened the day, before but United apparently has no ability, and apparently has no intention, to use the information in my United profile to try to make even something modest available. Gluten-free is not a choice but a medical necessity for some people. At least at this point my expectations are normalized so I bring a couple Kind bars - just like in coach. Lol

  6. Razzak Memon Guest

    They should try harder to be like American Airlines . The food on AA is so delicious that I would rather fly than eat my wife's cooking. American is the only airline that makes me proud to be American.
    Full Disclosure: I am CK and my wife is also CK.

    1. Skyward Geek Member

      Maybe your wife should learn to cook better. Better yet, instead of insisting the woman cook, why don't you do some of it yourself?

    2. John Guest

      @Skyward Geek

      Aside from perhaps being trolled or maybe just an old-fashioned joke by 'Razzak'. Which highlights your lack of situational awareness(!). Just where exactly was he "insisting the woman cook"?? I don't see it. Because it's not what he said. So either lighten up and/or actually learn to read the actual words in front of, instead of merely assuming.

  7. craig Leonard Guest

    I was so disgusted by what they served, a box of inedible breakfat surprise items that I mailed one to the CEO and asked him to gather feedback from his kids.
    Never heard from him I hope his kids are ok.
    Sad thing I bet a half a dozen United execs signed off on these "meals."

  8. travel Gnome Guest

    just flew FLL to IHA and then to Seattle... utterly disgusting food, as described, lounge in Houston was crowded, only cheap draft beers available, no Texas craft beer for example. Staff untrained, overworked, couldn't wait to leave.

  9. Skyward Geek Member

    @Lucky, a small correction:

    "However, most domestic flights of under 800 miles were served the dreaded packaged sandwiches. Yes, this is technically hot food, but not the good kind."

    should read:

    "However, most domestic flights of under 1500 miles were served the dreaded packaged sandwiches. Yes, this is technically hot food, but not the good kind.

    1. travel Gnome Guest

      "food" still sucks!

  10. Cbchicago Guest

    I fly every week and have a choice of my meals before 24 hours of departure. Not sure but I’m thinking that this post is misleading have not had a sandwich in over a year. Any improvement will be appreciated. I love UAL (Lifetime 1k).

    1. jetset Member

      The sandwiches are based on flight length / time. Also - the ability to choose meals 24 hours prior to departure is limited to specific departure airports so not available when returning from a non-hub for example or if your home airport is not a hub.

      So the fact that you specifically haven't had a sandwich in over a year is purely specific to you and your flying patterns, not because United had previously...

      The sandwiches are based on flight length / time. Also - the ability to choose meals 24 hours prior to departure is limited to specific departure airports so not available when returning from a non-hub for example or if your home airport is not a hub.

      So the fact that you specifically haven't had a sandwich in over a year is purely specific to you and your flying patterns, not because United had previously made some major improvement.

      I exclusively fly United and am GS - plenty of things I like about them but their recent catering is not on that list.

  11. Sean Guest

    Will premium transcontinental routes in Polaris get the upgraded service or will the meals be the same as other domestic first routes?

  12. Rich Watson Guest

    I wonder if any United executives have flown any Asian or Middle Eastern airlines to see what high class food service can look like? I applaud United for its improvements but it is still way behind what those carriers are doing.

    1. John Guest

      @Rich Watson

      Yes, undoubtedly United executives would've flown Asian and ME carriers, and noted the superior product and service. As you imply, their food offering is simply not comparable because United's motivation to truly be among the world's best is absent. The same can be said for the other U.S. legacy carriers. More practically, I think United would be content just being the U.S. leader. But I do like Polaris overall and appreciate the efforts they've made.

    2. travel Gnome Guest

      even the first class breakfast on Lufthansa Munich to duesseldorf was better than anything I was served on transcontinental flights from the US to Europe. The Europeans just know things better.

    3. craig Leonard Guest

      Rich we said the exact same thing. We just flew Etihad first class.
      Years ago living in Japan our company required us to fly United home, we always booked a code share so it looked like United

    4. Fed UP Guest

      The simple answer is NO. US executives and airline managers are completely in the dark about what other airlines in the world are doing. From the food to the service, US airlines are terrible. Especially in the service end.. Having passengers and flight attendants tramp from Economy to Premium to Business to First like hordes of wild bison (Most international carriers keep these cabins locked down and very separate).... to the food quality... to the...

      The simple answer is NO. US executives and airline managers are completely in the dark about what other airlines in the world are doing. From the food to the service, US airlines are terrible. Especially in the service end.. Having passengers and flight attendants tramp from Economy to Premium to Business to First like hordes of wild bison (Most international carriers keep these cabins locked down and very separate).... to the food quality... to the service and attitude of the FA.... Its all about price for US carriers.. and sometimes, there is NO PRICE DIFFERENCE.

      I remember years ago .. when I had a FIRST CLASS AWARD on Singapore Airlines, and was changing to another day, via telephone, and they tried to put me on United vs. Singapore ... Needless to say.... that did not happen...

  13. Larry Lawrence Abrams Guest

    Enroute LHR-DEN right now, 26May. Happy to report most all is well in Polaris--including the hot nuts. Still miss the hot towel, though.

  14. M.A.cote Guest

    First class meal…..!.?.!
    So cheap! US airlines company has to grow up in terms of quality.

  15. Kevin Guest

    My GF and I recently flew United Polaris for the first time, from SFO to FRA and we won’t fly them again. Glad they’re upgrading, but they got our money once and we don’t need to give them a second chance. We’ve flown Virgin Atlantic, Air France, KLM and Lufthansa, all in business class, so that was what we were expecting on UA Polaris. Every aspect of the experience, from lounge to boarding, meals, amenities,...

    My GF and I recently flew United Polaris for the first time, from SFO to FRA and we won’t fly them again. Glad they’re upgrading, but they got our money once and we don’t need to give them a second chance. We’ve flown Virgin Atlantic, Air France, KLM and Lufthansa, all in business class, so that was what we were expecting on UA Polaris. Every aspect of the experience, from lounge to boarding, meals, amenities, all of it was underwhelming and some just disappointing. All the other airlines we’d flown provided a similar level that we assumed UA would provide, especially since the UA ticket cost as much as the other airlines

    1. NFSF Member

      Surprised, as the Polaris lounge in SFO is one of the nicest business class lounges you'll find (esp in the US).

    2. Kevin Guest

      I'd read that it was nice, but it was the actual lounge, the chairs, the bar, seating, etc. that was nice. The food was generic cafeteria food and most of the time they were out. We ate at the restaurant and it was ok, it seemed warmed up as opposed to cooked. Her son likened it to ballpark food. So, none of it was horrible, but it was surprising to us how average everything was....

      I'd read that it was nice, but it was the actual lounge, the chairs, the bar, seating, etc. that was nice. The food was generic cafeteria food and most of the time they were out. We ate at the restaurant and it was ok, it seemed warmed up as opposed to cooked. Her son likened it to ballpark food. So, none of it was horrible, but it was surprising to us how average everything was. To be fair, the service industry is still recovering from the pandemic, but we both felt like average was ok.

  16. GDSFRA Guest

    The photo of the good ole sundae is misleading, as it still will not return on June 1st.
    For our safety I’m sure.

    1. John Guest

      @GDSFRA

      Yes, it must surely be an old pic. Do you recall soon after the launch of Polaris how United had numerous incidents with this exact sundae bowl cracking? They also had a similar problem with the oh-so-fancy champagne flute, which customers and crew also kept breaking.

  17. pw Guest

    The reintroduction of spirits is a bad idea.

  18. Lorne Thomas Guest

    Recently flew across to LHR and returned from CDG in Polaris. Meal service was okay but it was just a bit better than the hot meal service you got on long-haul domestic flights in economy 10 years ago. Still a huge gap in meal service between US and most foreign carriers.

  19. ECR Guest

    Have my first long haul Polaris flights tonight and next week. Interested to see a before&after (admittedly expectations not super high on food service)

  20. jetset Member

    Here’s to hoping this means they also improve the international quality and introduce more variety domestically than the 2 meal options they’ve been stuck on for the past 6+ months…

  21. Dror Guest

    EWR-HNL in Polaris (767-300) is considered domestic or international in these terms?

    1. Regis Guest

      Is Hawaii part of the United States? Therein lies the answer to your question.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

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Lorne Thomas Guest

Recently flew across to LHR and returned from CDG in Polaris. Meal service was okay but it was just a bit better than the hot meal service you got on long-haul domestic flights in economy 10 years ago. Still a huge gap in meal service between US and most foreign carriers.

1
James W. Guest

I do. The hot meal is one of the main things I look for when flying First.

0
Len rubin Guest

All first class meals for the past two months, regardless of cities, have had the same miserable choices. There is no different meal choice even on a round trip so you get the same meal going each way. The choices are the same horrid pepper filled options. Why should I pay first class and not have any meal variation?

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