Hot Plated Meals Return To United Airlines Domestic First Class

Hot Plated Meals Return To United Airlines Domestic First Class

47

United Airlines has just announced plans to restore hot meal service on more flights in domestic first class, which I’d consider to be great news.

United first class meal upgrades as of June 15

As of June 15, 2021, United Airlines will be restoring plated hot meal service on more domestic flights. Meals will include a main course, a side dish, and a dessert, and will be served individually wrapped and on one tray.

United Airlines will serve meals in first class on:

  • Domestic flights of over 1,500 miles
  • Hub-to-hub routes of over 800 miles

While no pictures are available of the new meals yet, here’s what we can expect to see on the menu:

  • For breakfast, expect an egg scramble with plant-based chorizo or Belgian waffle with bourbon berry compote, served with a side of a peach-flavored Greek yogurt parfait
  • For lunch and dinner, expect grilled chicken breast with orzo and lemon basil pesto or an enchilada with chile verde, served with a side of Spanish rice, plus a chocolate pie flavored cheesecake

This is a huge upgrade over what United is currently serving on these routes, which is the choice of a snack box, or an absolutely disgusting sandwich that I’d argue is almost not fit for human consumption.

United Airlines’ current first class snack box


United Airlines’ current first class hot sandwich

Will other airlines in the USA follow?

United Airlines is leading the way among the “big three” carriers in the USA when it comes to restoring inflight service in first class (though Alaska Airlines is also bringing back hot meals in first class).

As a point of comparison, currently Delta serves first class passengers snack boxes.

Delta Air Lines’ current first class snack box

Delta has revealed plans to restore more inflight service as of this summer, though details remain limited:

  • As of early June, Delta One and first class passengers on select domestic and coast-to-coast flights will see hot food options return
  • As of early July, first class passengers on other key routes in the USA can expect fresh boxed meals

It sounds like hot food will only return to transcon markets as of June, and then as of July we can expect boxed meals on more flights in first class, but not hot meals.

Meanwhile American Airlines is taking a completely different approach. American currently serves passengers the choice of a sandwich or cheese plate on most routes.

American Airlines’ current first class snack

On flights of over 2,200 miles the airline serves a “Fresh Bites” box.


American Airlines’ “Fresh Bites” box


American Airlines’ “Fresh Bites” box

However, American has made it clear that it doesn’t plan on ever offering the same meal service that it used to domestically. Instead American will restore meal service in a way that “has a premium feel but is different and more modern.” The airline views the pandemic as a way to “reset” meal service.

Bottom line

United will be restoring a plated hot meal service in first class as of June 15, 2021. The airline will initially offer meals on flights of over 1,500 miles, as well as on hub-to-hub flights of over 800 miles.

United is leading the way here when it comes to restoring meal service in first class, and I’m curious to see if this causes American and/or Delta to follow.

What do you make of United restoring a hot plated meal service in domestic first class?

Conversations (47)
Newest comments are displayed first.

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Type your response here.

If you'd like to participate in the discussion, please adhere to our commenting guidelines. Anyone can comment, and your email address will not be published. Register to save your unique username and earn special OMAAT reputation perks!

  1. Garland

    i’m flying united first from
    EWR to santos domingo glad to hear first class is back

  2. Gina

    Flew United from Newark to Punta cana last week business class both ways. Breakfast and lunch meals were quite good. I chose the waffles and chicken options.

  3. erie

    Flew UA first from IAH to RDU last week. Dinner was the same grilled chicken pesto sandwich which Lucky posted the photo as pre June 15 first class dinner option. Maybe because less than 1500 miles flight / non Hub to Hub flight. I wish I didn’t threw away the chicken wrap I bought at IAH prior to CPU… The grilled chicken pesto sandwich was terrible.

  4. Dr. PLM

    Flew Delta LAX-KOA last week in first class and received a snack box option, "Market" or "Bistro" and a choice of potato chips or cookies as a snack. Perks of FS travel are lost on Delta. Definitely not worth the extra money for an uncomfortable seat and no hot meal on a 5+ hour flight.

  5. Joan

    Flew first class from EWR to LAS and only meal was boxed cheese and crackers.

  6. TRACY VANCE

    Yes they are. It's not getting any better to travel right now. If you have the means to cancel your trip and travel later, I would highly recommend it. The airports are full of people with masks, and we are all hot and taking them off to drink seems so stupid.

  7. Robert J Rustman

    I flew from Fort Lauderdale to Chicago this past week and had a horrible pre packed sandwich….nasty…where is the real food?

  8. chris

    Flew UA transcon Newark to LAX two days ago and what a huge improvement! UA had solid catering pre-Covid, so it was great to see it return (including Sundays served in the iconic globe bowl), on a Dreamliner in domestic Polaris. The seat, service and ground staff were all superb. However, we were denied access to the Polaris lounge in Newark, which may be reserved for international travelers only. The regular United club in terminal...

    Flew UA transcon Newark to LAX two days ago and what a huge improvement! UA had solid catering pre-Covid, so it was great to see it return (including Sundays served in the iconic globe bowl), on a Dreamliner in domestic Polaris. The seat, service and ground staff were all superb. However, we were denied access to the Polaris lounge in Newark, which may be reserved for international travelers only. The regular United club in terminal C is just adequate, with so-so food options and views, but everything else was top notch. Looking forward to flying United to Frankfurt in August and hopefully another great inflight meal.

  9. W H

    Is United still aggressively telling people in domestic FC and BC to mask up between bites and between sips? I'm flying in September and would like to know. Thank you

    1. Gina

      Yes, but not really enforced. I kept mask off until I was entirely done.

  10. Rita J Seely

    I flew United first class from Dulles to Las Vegas yesterday. I had a hot lunch which consisted of a small chicken breast, Italian pasta of some kind, a roll and what I think was a chickpea salad. Additionally there was a delicious little chocolate pie cake thing.. I have to say it was pretty good. The chicken was tender and the pasta was good. I only took a couple of bites of the salad but I did not finish it because it was not something that I liked.

  11. Eve Alvarez

    I agree with Hans Meier's post. When I flew United from ORD-HNL last July 2020 on first class we were served a snack box with pretzels, crackers, jerky, etc. Mind you this is a 7am flight and with 8 1/2 hours of travel time. Needless to say I was starving. And how with hopes of some decent changes my parents came to visit me here in HI. Direct 10 hr flight from EWR-HNL, they were...

    I agree with Hans Meier's post. When I flew United from ORD-HNL last July 2020 on first class we were served a snack box with pretzels, crackers, jerky, etc. Mind you this is a 7am flight and with 8 1/2 hours of travel time. Needless to say I was starving. And how with hopes of some decent changes my parents came to visit me here in HI. Direct 10 hr flight from EWR-HNL, they were given a snack bag containing sanitizing wipes, bottled water and 2 small packages of pretzels and Stroop waffle. No other choices. My parents are both 65+ years old and to have pretzels for a 10 hr flight is horrible. Good thing I told my parents
    to bring a just in case lunch box with decent and real food on it.
    I understand the costs and all of that but common now... food is cheap and most of these big companies pay cheap labor too and yet we consumers get charge premium for 3rd class service. If you want a little comfort, you have to shell out another chunk of cash. It is very absurd and disgusting.

  12. Pat Bailey Leslie

    Mike,
    I believe if the words American cuisine were used you would not have missed the point.

  13. Hans Meier

    United is "leading"???? Is this a joke? All 3 US airlines are the worst in the world to fly with! No america first, its unfortunately america last! You get better meals on emerging country airlines. Qatar, Singapore or CX should be the benchmark for US airlines. This should be mentioned in every blog otherwise they will never change.

  14. Orville Wright

    Just flew United first and received a snack box. Main part was Flatbread and hummus spread. Are u kidding me? Like eating roof shingles with tar paper. Something hot and towards American taste will be very welcome.

  15. Mike

    Not American, so I might be missing something here, but...
    I don’t think I enjoyed food on an American Airline in well over a decade, most probably closer to two decades. It was always somewhere on the spectrum between disgusting to unremarkable. Why are so many people so fixated on being served mediocre, low quality food on a plane rather than eat at the airport or on the way to the airport? To me...

    Not American, so I might be missing something here, but...
    I don’t think I enjoyed food on an American Airline in well over a decade, most probably closer to two decades. It was always somewhere on the spectrum between disgusting to unremarkable. Why are so many people so fixated on being served mediocre, low quality food on a plane rather than eat at the airport or on the way to the airport? To me the hassle of trollies and smells and blocked isles and spills is just not worth it.
    But as I said, maybe I am missing something

  16. Kent

    Hooray for the return of disgusting airline food!

  17. David

    Seems like COVID is the latest sad excuse and code word for no service.
    No housekeeping and/or breakfasts in hotels, no (or severely limited) food and/or beverages on flights.
    In the race to the bottom, the luxury properties have transformed themselves into decaying road side motels , and the "premium" offerings of the majors have become indifferent and indistinguishable "no frills' flying buses.
    Happy new normal, fellow travelers.

  18. Charles Measel

    I know many of us are sick and tired of the airline food offerings . Passengers should be demanding better food quality . Airlines have gotten away with serving garbage to passengers for way too long . It has nothing to do with ticket prices or Covid19. Most of the items are unappetizing and unhealthy ladrn with salt, sugar and disgusting . The flying public has tolerated subhuman offerings from most air carriers for way...

    I know many of us are sick and tired of the airline food offerings . Passengers should be demanding better food quality . Airlines have gotten away with serving garbage to passengers for way too long . It has nothing to do with ticket prices or Covid19. Most of the items are unappetizing and unhealthy ladrn with salt, sugar and disgusting . The flying public has tolerated subhuman offerings from most air carriers for way too long as well. How come airlines such as Air Singapore can get awards for their meals and Qantas can serve better meals but others whine about cost and have a consistent across the board lack of compassion for passenger experience. Do people responsible for passenger experience ever sit in planes and eat the trash that's offered? They clearly don't care about what junk is provided to all passengers regardless of cabin class. Improved food quality is possible without increasing costs for airlines they just need to stop the mindset of how cheaply can we provide food to customers and change the way thru view passengers . How about airlines that seek to improve our inflight food experience instead of operating like they have a full flight deck and have to feed us with a small public assistance check,!!!! I believe all passengers deserve better food inflight and it can be done by all.

  19. CRAIG

    @WestCoastGuy - I assure it is is not the food that makes me consider flying First or Business over Coach. For flights 2 hours or less I deal with Coach. However transcons or international the lie flat seats or the ability to stretch out is important. Considering I only fly 4+ hours maybe a couple 2-3 times a year. The food/drinks I consider just a perk but not a deal breaker.

  20. AW

    At some point in the last year, someone at United decided that they were going to try to compete on "service." I think that you might have even reported on it at the time. They saw that Delta had a much better (and maybe even slightly undeserved) reputation for quality so have decided that they're going to try to do the bare minimum to compete with Delta. Let's see how long it lasts. My bet: no later than 6/30/22.

  21. Sean Pendergast

    You are spot-on about the United sandwich -! (It was) a freezing cold, cream cheese and chicken.

  22. WestCoastGuy

    I will never understand people who pay a premium for domestic first class tickets just to eat the trash these airlines serve in the name of 'food offerings'.

  23. Jack

    Another good reason to fly Southwest Business Select and bring along your favorite salad, sandwich and/or snack.

  24. UAPremierGuy

    Way to go, United! Very pleased to hear this news, and certainly hope AA follows soon. The boxed /wrapped "fresh bites" nonsense hardly has a premium feel to it. If people are truly going to be willing to pay for a premium product, the airlines need to offer a true premium product - both with the seat and in-flight offerings. UA's decision here is wise one that should be applauded and will certainly be one...

    Way to go, United! Very pleased to hear this news, and certainly hope AA follows soon. The boxed /wrapped "fresh bites" nonsense hardly has a premium feel to it. If people are truly going to be willing to pay for a premium product, the airlines need to offer a true premium product - both with the seat and in-flight offerings. UA's decision here is wise one that should be applauded and will certainly be one that will be a motivating factor in shifting some of my premium cabin purchases to UA.

  25. Bobby

    Just took UA F DEN-PVR today. FA did a fantastic job. You’d never know it was Covid times. She served 2 seats at a time, presented each row with a tray with the snack options after delivering drinks, again by 2 seats at a time

    Did the best she can

  26. Barry Brann

    The AA cheese plate is excellent, and it is also the dessert on their plated transcon routes. I recommend it. A few more grapes would enhance it.

  27. Slappychasez

    lol @greg. Constantly saying United is rising across all posts recently. Yet, they still serve a pile of unhealthy garbage sure to give one health issues down the line.

  28. Josh herr

    Oh YAY ! Airline food is back. You do know it's just a ride right? Get on a bus for 2-3 days and tell me what they serve you.

  29. Dan

    I don’t even understand the big deal about first class meals. It’s 50% sodium and 50% preservatives. It’s absolutely terrible for you. Give your arteries a break and buy a better option before boarding.

  30. John

    Lucky, I've never been particularly fussy about airline food, even when traveling premium. But I must say that UA sandwich looks just as you described - disgusting!

  31. Greg

    UNITED rising - now time to get intl premium cabin back to normal levels, none of this one tray limited touch nonsense - BA, LH, AF are close to serving their usual in-air menus coursed out.

    Delta a real laggard here...cold boxed 'meals' in July what a joke

    If UNITED really wants to pull ahead further - match or beat Mint's catering on trancons - and not just on lie flat equipment

  32. Jan

    Those sandwiches are 90% bread and 10% protein.

  33. VJ

    Another important service missing with United is Special Meals for International Flights. Looks like apart from Kosher option for TLV, everything else is off - https://www.united.com/ual/en/us/fly/travel/inflight/dining/special.html . This will be hard for vegans/vegetarians.

  34. Tom

    “has a premium feel but is different and more modern.” LOL someone please let AA know they aren’t being clever. That’s the stupidest thing I’ve heard. Let me translate “We are cheap and don’t care about the customer experience. Get used to sun chips and plastic cups.”

  35. Charlie

    Appreciate any food for purchase updates for those of us who fly in "Main" coast to coast.

  36. ItWontMatter

    its all about the race to the bottom. and excuse to continue the awful service benchmark. If you open your mouth to eat peanuts, you can open your mouth to eat a 5 course meal (which they will never serve).

  37. SEM

    @Jason there is a chance they will consider the DCA market an exception, as it often is due to the higher fares it commands...Also considered part of the "Washington DC" hub market for UA, so time will tell on that...

    Being a resident UA defender and frequent flyer in their DC market I have to say I am really sad about this announcement...I was really hoping that they might [as the AA SVP of Inflight...

    @Jason there is a chance they will consider the DCA market an exception, as it often is due to the higher fares it commands...Also considered part of the "Washington DC" hub market for UA, so time will tell on that...

    Being a resident UA defender and frequent flyer in their DC market I have to say I am really sad about this announcement...I was really hoping that they might [as the AA SVP of Inflight suggested last year] take this time to create a whole new approach to the food offerings onboard...JetBlue is not an option for me for anything long'ish, but I have experienced their Mint offerings twice and I really think that is the way to go...The worst part of this announcement is that it means that massive orders for this garbage have now been placed, so the clean slate that C-19 offered them is now gone : (

  38. Alec

    Can airlines please just offer legit healthy and tasty food? Maybe make it so you have to reserve it advance so they're not spending too much on them and only those paying (not last gate upgrades) are getting it.

  39. KK13

    UA's current hot sandwich looks like someone threw up! Yuck!
    I will take AA's Zoe's Kitchen over UA's, any day.

  40. Jerry

    American might as well match. From ORD and DFW, there aren't very many domestic routes that even hit 1,500 miles.

  41. Jason

    Annoyed. DCA-DEN, a flight that is 1,476 miles, and flies during meal times (leave dca at 4 or so pm, arrive dEN at 6 local or 8 dc time) is just under the cutoff, so no meals. This is my most frequented flight at DCA on UA. Yes, IAD-DEN will count, but DCA is so much closer and the fares are higher and it's just convenient for me. So on my most frequent flight I'll still get disgusting food. Thanks.

  42. Mike

    I think DL and AA will follow UA in the return of hot plated meals in First. That said, none of the hot meals previously offered by DL, AA, or UA were all that great; most were barely edible. There should be a happy medium somewhere between the expensive but outstanding meals carriers like Braniff used to offer back in the 70's (back in the days when airlines competed on service and not on price)...

    I think DL and AA will follow UA in the return of hot plated meals in First. That said, none of the hot meals previously offered by DL, AA, or UA were all that great; most were barely edible. There should be a happy medium somewhere between the expensive but outstanding meals carriers like Braniff used to offer back in the 70's (back in the days when airlines competed on service and not on price) and the high fat, high carb, no nutritional value wasteland of meals about to be reinstated to one degree of another by the "big three" in the near future.

    So UA is bringing back the crap they used to serve. DL continues to blame the lack of edible food on their flights, along with the rest of their increasing woes, on the pandemic. And as for AA we all know where their more modern approach to catering is headed: its a race to the bottom.

  43. shoeguy

    Eventually, all of the US3 will align as they typically do in these situations. The offerings aren't really amazing across the board and I have doubts the quality will improve.

  44. CRAIG

    I have yet to book travel for end of June from CLT to LAX. Currently we are experiencing a semi-manufactured fuel crisis with stupid behavior icing the cake. That will settle down by then but since American controls like 92% of the traffic in/out of Charlotte based on moments while enplanements originating from Charlotte is slightly less dominated at about 78% American. American's domestic first class offerings from CLT to LAX is fairly lame for...

    I have yet to book travel for end of June from CLT to LAX. Currently we are experiencing a semi-manufactured fuel crisis with stupid behavior icing the cake. That will settle down by then but since American controls like 92% of the traffic in/out of Charlotte based on moments while enplanements originating from Charlotte is slightly less dominated at about 78% American. American's domestic first class offerings from CLT to LAX is fairly lame for a transcon on a 321 but I have little options unless I want to waste a lot of time connecting. I have to decide if its worth paying for an F or J ticket for 5 hours for a seat that offers only slightly more space than coach.

  45. Robert Fahr

    Prediction: AA and Delta will reverse course. Plated food still is expected and the biggest differentiator from main cabin in soft domestic product.

  46. UA Catering Dept

    That sAAndwich looks awful!

Featured Comments Load all 47 comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Garland

i’m flying united first from EWR to santos domingo glad to hear first class is back

Gina

Yes, but not really enforced. I kept mask off until I was entirely done.

Gina

Flew United from Newark to Punta cana last week business class both ways. Breakfast and lunch meals were quite good. I chose the waffles and chicken options.

Meet Ben Schlappig, OMAAT Founder
4,523,713 Miles Traveled

25,807,500 Words Written

28,675 Posts Published

Keep Exploring OMAAT