United Airlines Follows With Inflight Service Reduction

Chicago-based United Airlines is making huge changes to inflight service starting on March 29th. This move follows other airlines and is designed to help curb the spread of the virus.

United Airlines Aircraft
United Airlines is reducing inflight service. Photo: Getty Images

Widespread beverage service changes

As stated on its website, traditional beverage service will temporarily be suspended. Instead, United will only offer sealed beverages. In addition, there will be no ice or coffee and tea service. Poured alcohol is also being cut. However, in premium cabins, United will continue to offer beer and individual wines.

Polaris 777 Juice
United is ending poured beverage service. Photo: Sumit Rehal / Simple Flying

Domestic meal alterations

In economy class, United will continue to offer pretzels, a stroopwafel, or cookies on flights longer than 90 minutes. In premium cabins, on flights between one and a half hours and two hours and twenty minutes, United will offer a snack basket. However, on flights longer than two hours and twenty minutes, premium passengers will get a snackbox.

On longer flights, United will offer a snackbox in premium cabins. Photo: Getty Images

What about premium transcontinental flights?

Some of the most prestigious routes in United’s networks are transcontinental routes catering both to leisure and business travelers. In United economy (and extra-legroom economy), there will be a snack choice on offer. In premium cabins, however, passengers will only receive a packaged meal with covered entree. Pre-arrival, passengers can indulge in a packaged snack.

United Premium
On some transcontinental routes, United will offer a pre-packaged meal with covered entree in premium cabins. Photo: United Airlines

International service changes

On the few international long-haul flights on United metal, the airline is altering service onboard. In economy class, passengers will get an entree, snack, and packaged dessert for the main meal. Midflight and pre-arrival items on longer flights will be pre-packaged as well. Everything is served for passengers to unwrap.

United plane runway getty images
Economy class passengers will receive packaged meals. Photo: Getty Images

In Premium Plus and Polaris, a similar story unfolds. Meal service here will involve entree, dessert, and bread service on one tray. And, everything will be served packaged for passengers to have to unwrap themselves. Midflight service is a pre-packaged snack. And, a pre-arrival service will be a fresh packaged meal.

United Polaris 777 starter
Polaris service will include packaged meals for passengers to uncover. Photo: Sumit Rehal / Simple Flying


United will also not offer preorder meals or food for purchase. Across the system, United will also end special meal options. The only exception to this is Kosher meals on flights to and from Tel Aviv, Israel.

United 787-9 Dreamliner
Israel flights will still have Kosher special meals. Photo: Getty Images

Ultimately, these are big changes to United’s inflight service. However, in an aviation world rocked with travel restrictions and concern about passenger and crew health, this is one step the airline is taking to limit exposure and possibilities for transmission. While these changes will negatively impact the inflight experience, they are temporary, meant to limit the spread of the virus.

What do you think of United’s inflight service reductions? Let us know in the comments!