United Cost Cuts Domestic First Class Catering

Filed Under: United

United has invested quite a bit in their “Polaris” international premium cabin experience, in terms of food, wine, and amenities. However, it looks like the investments in their premium cabin product don’t apply across the board, as United has introduced some cuts to their domestic catering as of September 1, 2017, as noted by Live and Let’s Fly.

As far as the big three US airlines go, United is the most detailed in showing customers what they can expect to eat onboard. The North America premium cabin dining page on united.com has a lot of information about what they’ll serve onboard based on how long your flight is, when you depart, etc.

United-787-Business-Class - 11

FlyerTalk member qukslvr619 notes that United quietly introduced catering changes as of yesterday:

Flights 2:30-2:59 hrs:
Breakfast: Remove breakfast breads only
Lunch: Two cold meal options and a chocolate truffle (vs one hot and one cold option, mixed nuts/bread//side)
Dinner: One hot meal/one cold meal option (vs two hot options); offers mixed nuts/bread/salad/dessert

Flights 3:00-3:59
Breakfast/Lunch: No change
Dinner: One hot meal/one cold meal option (vs two hot options); offers mixed nuts/bread/salad/dessert

Flights 4:00-5:24 (exc. transcons)
Breakfast, lunch and dinner have cold and hot meal options (vs two hot-meals)
Pre-plated dessert replaces ice cream/sorbet on lunch/dinner flights

On top of that, United will no longer have real food on domestic redeyes, with the exception of their premium transcons. All other flights will just have a snack basket in first class.

Ultimately these changes are fairly minor, though I think it’s always interesting to see the direction that airlines take with their premium cabin catering. In this case, all domestic flights with the exception of premium transcons will feature at most one hot option, compared to the two that were previously offered in many markets.

Then again, given the quality of food domestically nowadays, I almost prefer cold options, since they’re a safer bet.

  1. That’s disappointing. For the past few years, UA has really lead the way in domestic F catering among the legacies. To see them fall back to AA’s standards – and therefore lose out on a key differentiator – is pretty dumb. Airlines are enormously profitable right now, and cutting back on F catering is unnecessary. A cheap cost-cutting move that’s penny-wise and pound-foolish. Who does that remind me of? Oh, yes: Jeff “I’m Innocent!” Smisek

  2. “How does this effect the Newark Honolulu Non-Stop?”

    Hahaha that was my last flight EVER on Untied three years ago. Dirty cabin, no free meal in economy, and 10+ hours of “WTF”… have never looked back since.

    Google “Bob Crandall olive salad”; lots of interesting results. Here’s the first one I see:

    “In the 1980s, Robert Crandall, then head of the airline, cleverly calculated that if you removed just one olive from every salad served to passengers, nobody …”

  3. Oh boy, going SAN-TPA in a few hours on United, can’t wait. But at least its a mileage tkt; trying to burn them up so I can turn my back on this sorry airline.

  4. Not surprising, after all, this is the airline where premium passengers flying domestic non-premium transcontinental flights don’t even get lounge access unless they are United Club members!

    Who knows, maybe eventually, even premium passengers flying those routes will have to start paying for food on the plane as well…

  5. Well that means I can no longer even eat anything on the red eye. With a medically required ketogenic diet, United has little to nothing for me.

  6. Kirby and Parker only know how to cut cost, they honed their skills when times were tougher and it’s the only skill they have. When times are good and there are opportunities to grow unit revenue or customer base, they don’t have the skills to capitalize on the opportunity, so they just do what they’ve always done – cut their way to higher profits (and take credit for the oil market doing most of their work for them).

  7. If I paid $1200 for a first class ticket from LAX to BOS I would expect a wrap or salad or something on a five hour red eye.

  8. Aside from the red eyes this may be an improvement. Uniteds salad main courses are the best in the domestic skies and very healthy.

    The fAAnboys can’t take that their AAirline is the bottom of the market.

  9. hustler americans. anything, everything to make a buck. A bad joke, the failed empire. why should their “airlines” be any different as they are the reflection of the hustling, opportunism, and huckstering.

  10. Just when we thought United started to care about its customers … oh i see, that was only a dream.

    At this point UA should not be cutting back on anything. They still have not won back 100% of my business. It is things like this – yes, as minor as they are – that keep my business away from UA.

  11. Nothing but a snack basket in F? C’mon, even the cheapest seats on jetBlue get that!

    If anything, F is the last place you want to cheap out. These people aren’t price-sensitive like the cattle classes.

    Then again, this is the sort of asshattery I expect from United, irregardless of who’s running the show. DL’s rewards program is rightfully called SkyPesos, but at least they have some customer service up in F. It’s not that DL’s good, but they suck the least out of the legacy carriers.

  12. And to think BA serves a full 3 course meal, plus cheese and biscuits, in business class on a 900 mile journey from London to Alicante, where fares can be had for £215 return. And unlimited drinks…

  13. @Juno:

    none of the US airlines provide lounge access in that situation. The US model is different than the rest of the world.

  14. Best airline lounge I’ve ever used is Lufthansa. Real food, beer on tap, cheeses, omelets, sleeping compartments. Great!

  15. UA: upgrades cabins to “premium” seating and travel experience…
    then kneecaps themselves by cutting amenities to said “premium” seating and travel experience.

    Everything UA does is like Bizzaro-world.

  16. I’m not surprised given the down-classing of the food options in the United clubs.. boring, little selection , and pretty unappetizing. They didn’t even have the coffee machines working.
    I’m thinking that United has really lost its edge in their premium products.

  17. Actually, my recent flights on American FC, the meals, if there are any, have decline massively in the last three years.

    Also, I flew Delta One JFK-Sea twice recently, and the food sucked. In fact, the breakfast egg was so awful, I actually went to the bathroom to spit it out.

    UA, AA, DL are cutting everything, and I am sure I am not the only one noticing.

  18. I would be very interested in hearing, how many business class domestic seats are paid up front compared to mileage/free upgraded tickets. It’s hard to bitch if you paid 100-200 bucks for a flights and expect unlimited booze and a hot meal.

  19. Wasn’t it just 2-3 years ago that United has a big marketing blitz around the new and improved F catering? Now it’s basically gone.

    Guess they will let it deteriorate for a year or two, then improve it marginally again with another big marketing blitz, then cut back again shortly thereafter. Rinse and repeat.

    This airline’s service is a joke. Despite the record profits they still make cuts. Went from 1k to a ‘member’ and have never looked back.

  20. Spent too much on marketing their half-assed Polaris product that now they have to penny pinch on the actual experience

    Typical United talk the talk but can’t walk the walk

  21. I wondered what happened the pre-arrival muffin/scone on the HNL-SFO red eye last night. This explains it. So sad that UA decided to cut it.

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