United Airlines Is Restoring Hot Meals In Domestic First Class

United Airlines has been behind the curve bringing back meals. Alaska Airlines has done a phenomenal job. JetBlue has a smaller portion of its domestic flights with meal service (there’s “Mint” on only so many routes) but has brought it back. I’ve even been nicely surprised by the domestic first class meal quality on American Airlines for those flights with hot meals as well as the breakfast lox platter.

Delta has its failings, for instance readers report they’re serving coach meals in premium economy and they’ve made permanent service cuts pretending it’s about the environment (any time Delta promotes their eco-consciousness, ask them about their oil refinery).

United, though, is finally bringing back more meal service. They were early to offering it on a limited number of flights (1500 miles and up). Now they’ll offer,

meal trays in domestic first class on all flights that are longer than 800 miles, replacing the packaged sandwich it has been serving during the pandemic.

For mainline flights, the plated meals will include hot entrée choices, while cold plates will be on offer for United First customers on regional flights.

Notably American Airlines meal service only begins at 900 miles.

As I’ve previously written, coursed meals return to United’s international business class by June 1 with table linens and separate salad, entrée and dessert served separately one at a time.

Polaris Salad and Appetizer

June 1 is also the date that spirits return to international premium economy and economy (there was already beer and wine, and premium economy had spirits before it was taken away last month).

Nature is healing. Food matters. Customers may not have time to eat before a flight, or buy food on connections. The point of first class isn’t just “the Big Front Seat” unless you’re flying Spirit Airlines. It’s buying a less stressful and more effortless experience. Earning a revenue premium for the product means delivering things that make travel better for passengers, and time and again customers have stated that inflight meals matter.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I just flew LAX-PVR-LAX this past weekend on UA in F. It’s about 1200 mi. They still served the same inedible hot cheese sandwich that they’ve been serving for the past 2+ years. I chatted with the FA and she said that all of the FAs who work this flight routinely are just embarrassed to serve this crap any longer. This will certainly be a welcome change when I take this same flight again, in F, on UA, later in June. And while I can certainly grab some decent snacks in the United Club at LAX – one of the nicer locations in their portfolio, lounges are sparse and food service not so great in PVR

  2. Do they have a set date, though? Or is everything happening June 1st??

  3. Alaska has been serving proper meals in First for months. About time the others joined the party.

  4. Yawn…boring…..Let me know when they restore beating the shit out of customers onboard.

  5. Gary, this is the first time I’m gonna disagree with you. Nature is NOT healing. Whether covid is a man-made or a natural disease is up for continuous debate. BUT covid is Mother Nature’s warning to humanity that our actions must be held accountable and there has to be sustainability and responsibility. IF we get through covid and there is no change in our behavior, which doesn’t seem to be, Mother Nature will return with something even more lethal than covid and reclaim what is rightfully hers. I, too, am guilty of flying in J/F.

  6. When will United restore Polaris to what was first advertised and sold at launch?

  7. Be still my heart. Too bad domestic F pax are not allowed into their sub par garbage lounge without coughing up $59. UA still sucks, they destroyed their frequent flyer program, kicked their first class passengers out of their lousy lounges, and I am not impressed with anything they do. Sorry Gary, I know you are just the messenger.

  8. I agreed with Chris Jensen’s comment. United customer service is not good. The food they serve is nothing special. Don’t waste money to fly F/C with them; It’s a joke!!!

  9. What Gavin said plus one. Reminds me of the Austin Airport. And it’s called ABIA not AUS pretentious idiots! AUS is an airport code not a name. Poorly designed with limited room for growth. So limited they now are going back on their word (the 30 year lease for 2 ULCC’s. Does honor mean nothing anymore?
    So now too many pax want to use ABIA. Uh, wow, too bad. Cry me a river. Keep the same number of flights. This will allow the airlines to raise prices, thus making more money per flight (supply and demand) and cap the amount of pollution they produce. The amount of pollution the airlines crank out now is what, I read somewhere, 10% of all pollution from all sources? Growth/Greed is not sustainable. Tourism does not produce well paying jobs. We need to go back to making things and be less dependent on dictator countries for stuff. Right now they have us by the balls and Wall Street makes all the money but oh, everything great because short Sharon and tall Brad get to jet off for the weekend to see Broadway plays. This is not sustainable. I think whomever invented Supermans story in the comics was clairvoyant. His home planet blows up because of the stupid, greedy, shortsighted policies of the super rich/powerful. Well, let’s party like it’s 1912 on the Titanic!

  10. @Chris Jensen -> you’re obviously not an american. None of the big 3 airlines, UA, DL or AA let domestic F passengers into their lounges. Why should they? The lounges are already super crowded as it is, letting more people in for “free” is silly. Now sure they let you get into the lounge for free in australia if you’re flying J, but Qantas nor Virgin aren’t giving out free complementary domestic upgrades to their elite fliers either so there’s that.

  11. United has room for improvement but when people like Chris mention their “garbage” lounge, when exactly is the last time you were admitted into ANY domestic carrier’s lounge for free on a domestic ticket? They don’t do it. So to single United out on this is ridiculous. And also in fairness, of all the things United has been doing, the United Clubs have actually been drastically improving food options since the pandemic. The standard was insanely low before, I’ll admit that, but I’ve actually found hot breakfast entrees with real protein lately. It’s not on like Centurion lounge levels but it’s a major improvement. And the new Newark lounge shows how the future of these clubs is going.

    In any case, about the food… those sandwiches were atrocious. I couldn’t even bring myself to nibble on one, I always asked for the tapas snack box or had food I brought on board. In terms of their hot meals though… for the love of god stop offering the chicken and the total salt lick “Ragu with polenta.” It’s to the point now where you’re actually happy to get served legitimate chicken breast since some catering locations are loading on rubbery, inedible pressed chicken on that chicken dish.

    United was ahead of it with bringing hot meals back, but Delta and American are now doing a better job with it so being first doesn’t matter anymore.

    And no, I never buy domestic F for the food (who does?), but they definitely can shake it up a bit at this point.

  12. @Joey “when exactly is the last time you were admitted into ANY domestic carrier’s lounge for free on a domestic ticket? They don’t do it.” Alaska Airlines paid and award first class tickets = Alaska lounge access

  13. yeah the useless 7 Eleven warmish brown bag sandwich has been shameful. Same as others here, I was getting the tapas box, Flight Attendants seemed ashamed too. And would agree with others, the United lounges are actually really very good now compared to other US airlines and to what they were prior.

    But last year AA was already back to full service on Central America to US biz class, and despite being Premier 1k, ton of points and plus points (which I can’t seem to even use as there is never anything but waitlist), I’ve made the switch to AA after decade + being loyal…

    Pre flight drinks, hot towels, warm nuts and a full meal service OR a convenience store sandwich….hmmm who wins my business…

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