United Airlines has opened a new test kitchen near its Chicago headquarters and is rumored to be rolling out catering improvements this spring. Based upon the sad state of dining affairs in United Polaris Business Class, this cannot come fast enough.
Current State Of Meal Service In United Polaris Business Class Cries Out For Upgrade
We’ve seen article after article on United’s catering this week, all written around this tweet by Zach Griff:
I keep hearing that @United is working to improve its inflight catering, with plans to make an announcement this spring.
And it appears that improvements are finally in the works. The carrier recently opened a new test kitchen near its Chicago HQ to experiment with new meals. pic.twitter.com/pE2mxf4pNk
— Zach Griff (@_ZachGriff) January 23, 2023
Frankly, most of the articles were 300+ words of nothing and I will not do the same here. United is incredibly tight-lipped about any potential catering changes, so the bottom line is that we are going to have to wait and see what springs bring.
But let me bring to your attention what United is serving this month in Polaris Business Class on breakfast flights out of Europe, for I think it nicely sums up the current problem:
Yes, this is what a last-minute $8K ticket from London to New York will get you. An industrial bread roll with a morsel of scrambled eggs, a bowl of sugary yogurt, and a croissant that looks like a bus ran over it.
Oh but don’t worry, a hamburger is served prior to arrival and you can have ice cream with breakfast…
Who thought this was acceptable on a transatlantic business class flight? It boggles my mind. And yet this is just one example.
I’ve said it before and I will say it again: if United wants to be the best airline in the world, it must invest more in its meal service. The slop I pictured above is absolutely unacceptable on a ticket that costs thousands of dollars.
United loyalists may reason that people do not care because planes are filling up anyway, but that’s a specious and weak argument, especially if economic headwinds and a fundamental change in business travel continue to weaken premium cabin yields.
If United is serious about improving its food, we need to see, at a minimum, these three things:
- The ability to pre-reserve meals on every single flight (American and Delta figured this out years ago)
- Fresher options like leafy green salads with a selection of dressings and bowls of fruit not covered in syrup
- The return of the bread basket and appetizers
The “supply chain” blame is woefully unpersuasive considering it has been years now and other carriers do not seem to have similar problems. Indeed, the problem is budget.
United is doing so many great things with its United Next initiative and its overall improvement in service, reliability, and technology onboard. Now it must make an investment in meal service and must do so now. Any C-Level leader at United should be embarrassed by the current state of affairs when it comes to meal service in United Polaris. It’s time to fix it.