United Eliminates Free Alcohol On Asia Economy Flights

United seems to have quietly updated their policy on alcoholic beverages in United Economy for travel to/within Asia. Per a memo posted on FlyerTalk, the following policy will kick in on January 1, 2014:

Pacific market
All United Economy beer, wine, sparkling wine and sake in the Pacific market will no longer be complimentary. We are confident that our overall product remains competitive in this market.

There are still some inconsistencies on their website as to the policy, which I guess isn’t surprising since this is a new change and hasn’t even officially been announced yet.

The international economy class beverage page still lists beer and wine as being complimentary on transpacific flights and flights within Asia and Micronesia:

International United Economy:

Red, white and sparkling wines are available for purchase in most markets, and are complimentary on trans-Pacific international flights and on flights within Asia and Micronesia.

Meanwhile on their international economy class seating page they added “Asia” to the markets where wine, beer, and spirits are available for purchase:

United Economy on flights to Asia, Africa, Europe, the Middle East, South America and the South Pacific

Meals and beverages

  • Complimentary soft drinks, juices, tea and freshly brewed coffee
  • Wines, beer and spirits available for purchase
  • Complimentary meal service
  • Mid-flight snack service on longer flights
  • A light meal served prior to arrival on longer flights

Really what actually amazes me (and admittedly I’m easily amazed, but…) is that someone can say “we are confident that our overall product remains competitive in this market.” Have you seen economy class on United’s 747s? And then there are airlines like Singapore, that have modern cabins, amazing IFE, friendly service, and edible food.

I guess the two billion dollars in cuts at United has to come from somewhere.

Meanwhile earlier this month Delta added free spirits in international economy, not just to Asia, but on all longhaul international flights.

Filed Under: United
  1. UA’s food has been the worst on long haul Y class for as long as I can remember among all three American carriers, to take one step further, I am actually not that surprised.

  2. This really surprised me. I always had to beg for more than 2 drinks during a 12 hour flight to asia, so the savings won’t be that dramatic. I need to burn my miles….and quick!!

  3. It’s as if UA management has decided that the best way to cut costs is to chase away passengers. No pax=no costs (and no revenue).

  4. I flew one flight on United-ORD-FRA. I hadn’t flown United in 30 years. It started badly with the most disorganized boarding procedure, flight attendants who stood around and did nothing the whole flight, and I paid extra for Economy Comfort. Which that seat was on a bulkhead, with only about 4 inches extra space. Needless to say, I avoid United. Delta’s SkyMiles program leaves a lot to be desired, but at least Delta’s inflight experience is much better than United’s.

  5. More changes United flyers are sure to like. Cost cutting as a method to increase profits will be rendered futile if UA elites and even the occasional flying passengers continue to leave the airline in droves. It is ironic that many now think DL has a better service and product than UA.

  6. They are competitive still (hint: it’s not on the product!!)

    Seriously though their 747s are horrible and the price had better be low low low.

  7. I would also add that they downgraded the Japanese meal in Business Class this year, it previously was much better, an absolute treat, just so-so now.

    Lots of bad news for us in the Pacific since the “merger”: Downgrade of aircraft HNL-GUM to domestic service but requires GPU, loss of CPUs on intra-Asia GUM flights, loss of BKK route, plus the worldwide changes we all are seeing.

  8. United Airlines has become an absolute joke since the merger. UAdbaCO has destroyed what was once a great airline. Cut after cut after cut. Has anyone at Willis Tower ever flown on another airline? Do they have any CLUE how poor their product is compared to their competition? And now, even more cuts???

    What a bunch of fools.

  9. Looks like it’s time to call American and set up that Exec Platinum Challenge …

    Sad I’ll end up wasting a half dozen GPUs, but with UA’s W restriction on those, they’re not that useful anyway …

  10. oh dont forget the friendly sky theme. about the only good about UA is the miles and now they trashed that too, so what else is there about the friendl sky.

  11. Seems like UA is doing everything possible to earn only the lowest fares in the market.

    So many moves to cheapen their product.

  12. Just returned from Seoul – the UA 747 facilities were disgraceful – like going back in a time machine. Even the flight attendants were embarrassed when I asked them about it. I haven’t had such a poor experience since I took the UA final leg home from SFO to BOS…at least that was only a 6 hour flight of boredom as opposed to the 12 hours on the 747.

  13. Hi Lucky, I’d be interested to know how you got the info so early. I’m in travel in Oz and only had the email from them today! Bad timing as I’m in Y with them on Jan 1st. Lucky me!

  14. anyone flying united before 1/31/14 i have two Global Premier Upgrades available will hook you up! GRATIS

  15. Took a 13 hour flight from San Francisco to Taipei and was AMAZED that when I asked for a beer that I was charged 8 dollars! I actually handed it back to the attendant and said no thanks. Forgive me, but after paying $1,600 USD for a flight in Economy Plus I felt this was wildly inappropriate. That with poor and unfriendly service guaranteed that I will never fly international on United ever again.

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