As American and US Airways split the difference on meal service and eliminate meals from nearly all flights under 1000 miles, United decides to go the opposite direction.
Scott Mayerowitz reports that United will add back meals in domestic first class for flights of 800 miles or more.
That would make United the most generous of the big 3, since Delta is sandwiched in the middle at 900 miles.
And it makes one wonder if the elimination of garlic bread and ketchup from some flights was a head fake, or sympomatic of a schizophrenic management at United that can’t seem to come to and communicate a consistent strategy for the company.
After massive cutbacks to its mileage program and a belief that its over-entitled customers are the problem, they’re adding something back. Surprising for a company on a quest for $2 billion in cost cuts. And yet welcomed, with trepidation.
I’d focus on the IT systems still, personally, to ensure tickets are issued and re-issued properly and mileage credits correctly. Those are bigger fish to fry.
But meals matter, too.
A hot meal on a two-hour flight might not sound like a necessity, but for busy frequent fliers it might be the only chance to grab a bite.
“Business travelers, running from a meeting to catch an earlier flight, don’t have the time stop and pick up food along the way,” says Gary Leff, co-founder of online frequent flier discussion site MilePoint
I loved pre-merger American, where I’d get meals on the 612 mile DC – Chicago flight… just like I used to get years ago even on United. Back in the day a DC-10 dinner flight from O’Hare to Baltimore could mean crab cakes. More recently on American it probably meant stuffed shells.
I don’t necessarily make flight choices based on the food, but when you spend so many miles and so many days with an airline captive in a metal tube, running to make flights, and making short connections sometimes what they provide is the difference between eating something or not. And having one less thing to worry about is a phenomenal way to really take care of customers.
That’s why meals matter, even if all things equal I’d rather skip the meal and not have my tray table too full for my laptop.
The United meal window changes don’t start until February (far enough out that it could still not happen). And apparently according to Mayerowitz only give meals to 13 more
flightsroutes. But it’s an important symbol, and lets United claim to serve meals on the shortest flights out of their major competitors.