United Announces the Elimination of Garlic Bread and Ketchup

While United makes excuses for losing $600 million in the first quarter, and is out of ideas so just copies Delta, they get more and more desperate.

Strategy plans are said to look like what’s “found in a typical operating department’s annual budget presentation than in a corporate presentation..”

So where do they turn for salvation? Elimination of ketchup from Europe flights and garlic bread from Asia flight premium cabins.

The airline that spent 2013 losing 250,000 customers a month is eliminating complimentary meals on their Honolulu – Guam flights.

They’re also shrinking the lavatories on 737-800 and 737-900 aircraft. They call them ‘space saving lavatories” which sounds almost futuristic… like Magic Flush.

Why you may ask are they doing this? To squeeze in more rows of coach, of course!

In a move @FakeUnitedJeff would love, the quest for $2 billion a year in cost cuts is known as ‘Project Quality’.

Without ketchup, what will passengers eat as their vegetable?

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 remember he elimination of lobster tails on American 1st Class Transcom flights back in 2004 for a cold slab of cow-meat, which was a nightmare. Then they eliminated one of four olives in a salad. What else did American do that went south?

    Oh no United! No ketchup? Doesn’t Warren Buffet own Heinz now? Garlic bread? That’s one top reason I fly Cathay Pacific, you know.

    When United and Delta screwed up the FF program, no doubt this is the result (plus an ObamaStyle -2.9% contraction in the US Economy (first it was -0.1%, then -1.0%, now -2.9% all adjusted for the same Q1)).

  2. United is really pathetic. The 777 they fly from Honolulu to Guam doesn’t even have the new business class seats. They still use the old uncomfortable seats on a 7 hour 20 minute flight. Unfortunately Smisek will never get it. He was the wrong guy to take over a global airline. I’ve been a 1K for at least 12 years but this year will probably be my last. The airline is just not worth the loyalty. If I’m going to spend a minimum of $10,000/yr in tickets I might as well fly on the best airline possible.

  3. I’m convinced Delta has a mole in UA senior management whose task is to run United into the ground. So far, so good.

  4. I thought Smisek learned at the knee of Gordon Bethune who made Continental such a quality customer-oriented airline for so many years. When I heard he went to United I thought it would transfer some of the Continental service quality to it.

    I remember one time right after 9-11 I was flying NW on a CO Award and was nearly strip searched in an arena type seondary screening ring set up in Minneapolis airport. I complained and a woman screamed in my face “If you say another word you’re not flying today” so loud the supervisor said he’d heard it from the other end of the terminal. After spending the night there I called CO and by the next morning had an apology from NW who said the President of CO had called them and told them CO doesn’t allow its customers to be treated that way. I didn’t even have any status, except I was a CO customer!

  5. Get rid of ketchup? Seriously, is this a joke post? They think that they will improve the bottom line by eliminating ketchup? I don’t know who this Smisek fellow is, but he needs to go. Soon.

  6. United could save some additional weight by going with paper plates in first class.

  7. Ffs! Take the UA business spreadsheet control out of the hands of the high school intern and bring in someone who knows about airline! New branding:

    United Airlines: Flying Blind.

  8. UA keeps getting worse and worse. They could have learned a thing or two from CO when they merged… but obviously didn’t.

  9. The Garlic Bread is only being removed from flights to Asia. Europe, PS, Latam all still have it.

  10. I flew on a UA aircraft last week with the “space saving” toilet. It was noticeable: I remembering entering and thinking “what the f!@#$.” You can get your business done in there, but it is very tight. Certainly not Bathroom Friendly. I don’t think these things are going to catch on.

    Regarding the elimination of free meals between HNL-GUM, that seems a bit nuts, no? It’s not like this is a cheap ticket. You could now actually fly from EWR to GUM (easily a 20+ hour trip) and not get a free meal. That’s certainly not Stomach Friendly.

  11. Smisek has ruined United. I was a Global Services member for years but, since the merger, I have watched the airline sink lower and lower. It’s really a shame and reminds me of the spiraling down of PanAm and TWA, fine airlines in their day but just plain awful in the end. How long will the UA Board keep these jokers at the helm?

  12. Personally I hope the screwups that United does creates lemonade for the rest of us. Here’s what I mean, about 2 more years of poor or no profits and United will be singing to the Bankruptcy Court. Could take longer, but if the economy stalls a bit from higher fuel prices, it could happen faster. This will create some lower fares, bonus miles offers, etc. And, the other airlines will probably have to match these offers. So, let United sink!

  13. Well as Reagan said that’s one less vegetable to worry about on our flights…….

  14. Let’s just keep on with all the UA bashing, and as a reward we can compete with 5 times as many people for limited AA upgrades and awards from slot-restricted DCA. Yay!

  15. At one point, does a company not take a hard look, and ask, why are we losing so many customers? Apparently, common sense isn’t so common.

  16. Too ironic that it is Smisek from Quality CO who is tanking his airline’s quality, while “Let’s rip the audio wiring out and charge for Cokes” Parker has AA flying pretty high right now. During storms in DFW last week the gate orchestration was so tight it was like military precision.

  17. The link for:
    “losing 250,000 customers a month”
    Seems to take me to a page where I have to purchase a subscription to see what the reference is about :/

    As for HNL – GUM, so no more ice cream sandwiches, huh?

  18. Remembering the genius from Blazing saddles “Gentlemen, gentlemen, we must protect our phony baloney jobs”………….I redid my file drawer today to order the airlines I want to fly and do business with…………Not a single American flag carrier………….well Alaska if you count an empty suit for redeeming on foreign carriers……..very sad state of affairs………our airlines are in the same state as our roads………..they are old and tired and there is no leadership from either party to improve the state of affairs……………pick the newest carrier with the most 380’s and you be just fine………….and the staff won’t all be simultaneously drawing social security between meal service………

  19. While the reductions are pathetic, what does “losing 250K customers per month” mean? They carry 140 million passengers a year, a few are bound to jump ship, most of them are probably leisure travelers who just go wherever is cheapest, and thus it is a meaningless stat.

  20. There’s a Heinz ketchup factory near me that’s closing down. Maybe UA could take a page from Delta’s book and start running their own ketchup refinery.

  21. OMG! OMG!! Such a tragedy to lose ketchup AND garlic bread!!!

    What a bunch of piling-on whiners. If it was never announced, nobody would even have noticed.

  22. Kris, UA lost more than six million dollars in the first quarter of this year.

    If UA is really “losing 250K customers per month” it means that UA loses three million customers in one year.

    Even if UA hypothetically could have made only two dollars off each lost customer, that equals six million dollar loss.

    Loss of many customers to any company is a cumulative and negative effect on income. Even if those lost customers were to return to UA, the income they gave to other airlines while they were gone from UA is lost forever.

    No, it is not a “meaningless stat” as you wrote. Don’t forget, during the same period UA lost money, the other two legacy carriers did exceedingly well financially.

  23. The food on UA is so bad as it is right now, I have no idea what coach is like but biz and F is downright horrible. I bet this means its gonna get worst, if that is even possible.

  24. @Paul – I think you’re missing the big picture. He’s getting rid of Ketchup because he can’t cut the mustard!… HA HA HA HA H AH AH AH AHAHA HAHA HA AH HA!!!!

  25. While the downward levels of service on UA are troubling, I wouldn’t make much of their decrease in passenger numbers. Much of this (if not all) is intentional. The now-very-profitable US airline industry (which certainly includes UA if you look at on an annual basis) is built upon restricting capacity and raising fares. They don’t mind fewer passengers — as long as those passengers pay more money. It would be particularly logical for UA to have decreasing pax numbers as they cut flying that is now unnecessary” due to the merger. Alternatively, I am certain that UA could lower fares and dramatically raise their passenger counts. That would also be quite stupid from a business standpoint.

  26. Gary – great post. Regarding the loss of customers, where are they going? Do you have similar stats for DL, AA, etc.?

  27. Tina says it best: “At one point, does a company not take a hard look, and ask, why are we losing so many customers? Apparently, common sense isn’t so common.” WTH do they DO at the top management levels? How can they continue to screw up so blatently?

  28. At some point the board of directors need to take responsibility and make some changes

  29. I’ve never had a good experience on United (and I’ve been trying for more than 30 years).

    Not. One. Good. Flight.

    And this seems like they’re well placed to keep up their record.

  30. Mark, what US airline would you consider better than United with same flight options? I would like to know. We have been flying with United 12-15 x each year since the merger with Continental which we loved. We would like to change but do not see a better option for domestic flight mostly between LAX – HNL. Too bad Virgin Atlantic does not have more routes within US.

  31. I usually like a bloody mary when flying. Up until about 2010 , I would ask for black pepper or they would bring it with my drink when flying on Southwest. Then all of a sudden , no black pepper. asked the flight attendant . Why they no longer have it , she said in typical lighthearted Southwest speak ” I guess they are trying to lighten the weight to conserve fuel “. Now I carry my own black pepper on flights for my bloody marys . I don`t know if this is true on all carriers.

  32. Why is it, era after era, that United Airlines ends up constantly looking like Untied Airlines???

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