United Airlines Trials Improving Soft Product On Some Routes

United Airlines continues to improve its economy class soft product on some key routes. A limited trial began last year. Amenity kits were made available to economy class passengers on a couple of routes. Passengers were also offered a ‘complimentary sandwich’ on certain flights. Positive feedback has seen United Airlines begin to roll out sandwiches on more routes.

United Airlines is offering economy class passengers a free sandwich on many of its Hawaii bound flights. Photo: United Airlines.

Gary Leff in View From The Wing reported yesterday that free sandwiches will be offered on some additional routes from 1 March 2020.

Complimentary sandwich only available on a few routes

But don’t automatically skip breakfast at home.  United Airlines has about 5,000 flights a day to some 342 destinations around the world. Until now, only passengers on the Chicago – Honolulu route had been scoring a complimentary sandwich.

From 1 March, in addition to this route, economy class passengers on the Newark – Honolulu, Washington Dulles – Honolulu, Houston – Honolulu, Denver – Honolulu, and Guam – Honolulu routes will also receive a complimentary sandwich. Enjoy!

It’s a very Honolulu centric list. Some might ask what has United got against hungry passengers not heading to Hawaii? However, these routes comprise some of United’s longest domestic flights and you can’t have people chewing on headrests midway over the Pacific.

It probably isn’t a case of United’s catering managers opening their dusty wallets and shaking out a few pennies either. Competitors Hawaiian Airlines, American Airlines and Delta Air Lines all offer complimentary food to economy class passengers on domestic flights to Hawaii. It’s more like a competitive decision on United’s part rather than a response to grumbling stomachs.

After all, if you’re that hungry the headrest is looking good, you’ll probably pony up and pay for something from the bistro or snack menu.

There’s also an amenity kit offered on the Chicago – Honolulu route

United Airlines also started offering amenities kits on flights between Chicago – Honolulu. There has been no word on this expanding. Judging by the post of United’s Onboard Experience Manager, Aleksandra Mietus, on Twitter earlier this month, it is a limited offering with an eye mask, earplugs, toothbrush and toothpaste.

Improvements for Kosher menu on Tel Aviv flights

But back to food, and moving away from Hawaii. United Airlines is expanding and improving its Kosher offerings on flights between the USA and Tel Aviv.

Options will include dishes such as fresh bagels, a cheese omelet, blintzes, chicken marsala, a kale quinoa burger and traditional bakery items like rugelach and black and white cookies.

Charlean Gmunder, United’s vice president of Catering Operations said in a statement;

“We are thrilled to expand our already high-quality Kosher culinary choices to include new options we know our customers will love.

“We know our customers and listen to their feedback and all of these new menu items – from savoury new snacks to wonderful wines – are the result of our on-going efforts to exceed customer expectations. We will continue to embrace suggestions as well as seek out ways to create the best possible onboard dining experience for everyone we proudly serve.”

An example of United’s improved and expanded Kosher offering on Tel Aviv flights. Photo: United Airlines.

Happily, the step-up in United’s Kosher offering extends to economy class passengers and even children. United Airlines flies to Tel Aviv from Newark, Washington Dulles and San Francisco.

Similar flight times, big difference in softy product offering

Like most airlines, United Airlines makes a clear differentiation between its soft product offering on international and domestic flights. That’s fair enough when the domestic flight takes 90 minutes and an international flight takes 12 hours. However, there isn’t much difference in the flying time between Honolulu and US east coast cities and Tel Aviv and US east coast cities. But there is a world of difference in United’s soft product offering.

Flying from Newark to Tel Aviv on United Airlines, I’d get a complimentary three-course meal, drinks, and a mid-flight snack. Flying in the opposite direction to Honolulu, I get a sandwich and possibly a grimace. Flying time is much the same.

So while United Airlines might be spinning their Honolulu sandwiches as an improvement, logic suggests there’s scope for considerably more improvements in United’s longer-haul domestic soft product.