United Airlines To Upgrade First Class Meal Offering Next Month

After over a month of snackboxes, United Airlines is upgrading its first class meal service starting October 1st. While nowhere near pre-pandemic selections, the news of proper sandwiches, a hot meal on a long trip, and the return of the ice cream cup is cause for premium passengers to rejoice.

United Airlines is ramping its first class catering back up. Photo: Denver Airport Newsroom

For months, the onboard catering offerings were progressively getting slimmer and slimmer as airlines rushed to keep contact between crew and passengers to a minimum and lessen risks of exposure from other sources.

Snack boxes became the new normal. Sometimes they were already placed on the seat when passengers boarded, which made for some tricky maneuvering. Some airlines, such as Alitalia, have completely removed inflight services, including drinks, on shorter flights.

Now, just as we saw schedules begin to ramp back up in July, slowly meal offerings are returning. While there is still a long way to go, starting next month, United Airlines is once more giving its first class passengers something slightly more worth removing their mask for.

Flights over 800 miles will get sandwiches

As Live And Lets Fly reports, United will offer first class passengers a sandwich on all flights over 800 miles that depart from catering stations. These include Chicago O’Hare, Cleveland, Denver, Honolulu, Houston, Los Angeles, Newark, San Fransisco, and Washington DC. Flights departing from other airports will remain on the snack box roster for now.

United meal boxes
United’s premium passengers have only had tapas snackboxes to choose from over the past month. Photo: United Airlines

As of October 1st, options provided include an everything bagel with cream cheese or a turkey Monte Cristo with raspberry jam for flights departing before 09:45. Passengers on flights with a later departure time will have a choice of tomato, basil, and mozzarella focaccia, or carved roasted chicken on Italian flatbread.

Longer Hawaiian flights get hot meals

For first class travelers on longer flights to Honolulu, the news is even better. Services between the Hawaiian capital and Chicago O’Hare, Denver, Guan, Houston, Newark and Washington will once more feature hot meals.

The hot meal offering will resemble that which United has been providing on some longer transcontinental flights. This includes a hot entree, salad, bread, nuts and dessert. Meanwhile, in more good news – the ice cream cup is returning! That includes international flights, with the exception of flights to and from Ireland and India.

United Premium transcon meal
Sadly, United’s full tray service is still a long way off. Photo: United Airlines

Whole cabin gets ice cream on international flights

In economy, United will once more serve coffee and tea on any flight with beverage service. Moreover, cups of water will be available in addition to the bottle provided in the prepackaged snack bag. And do not fear, ice cream will return for the entire cabin on long-haul international flights (still with the exception of Ireland and India).

Despite the nominal swerve back towards a pre-pandemic state of tray-play, many predict that airline catering could see significant changes in the long-term. Senior Vice President of Flight Service for American Airlines, Jill Surdek, believes that full meal services will not return for some time yet. She believes that we will see interim steps and that when they come back in earnest, it will be with a more modern and more sustainable twist.

What do you think? Are you missing inflight catering? How do you think it will change post-COVID?