Some airlines around the world let business and first class customers select a meal in advance from a variety of options, and then they’ll make sure to have it on board for you. Other airlines – including U.S. airlines – have been letting you choose mostly from what would otherwise be on board but choosing in advance ensures you receive your first choice.
American Airlines introduced pre-order meals up front nearly 7 years ago. Since then they’ve expanded to also offer “pre-order only” options such as a fruit and cheese plate and a charcuterie plate, as well as special diet meals such as Kosher and Asian Vegetarian.
American Airlines Charcuterie Plate
Delta finally announced pre-order meals this year. So not surprisingly United shares that they are currently testing a per-order meal option with a subset of customers.
During this first phase, a select group of customers seated in United First class with travel scheduled for July 31 from Los Angeles to Washington Dulles received an email inviting the customer to visit a meal reservation page on united.com to select their meal preference from a menu of available options.
Customers can select their meal five days before departure and up to 24 hours before their flight. If they choose not to choose a meal they can request from the flight attendant once on board. Our teams will follow up with our customers, review test feedback and adjust as needed.
Interestingly Washington Dulles was also the test market for expedited meal service on overnight transatlantic flights. (Update: Contra the statement from United the tests will be for departures from LAX and from Dulles, not from LAX to Dulles.)
The testing is presumably less about whether United will adopt this and more about whether they need to refine their execution processes in order to cater flights correctly.
The only frustration I’ve found is that when flights cancel or I have to switch flights my meal choice doesn’t follow me, since I’m making the change generally day of departure rather than a day in advance of travel. The option though is one that’s much appreciated by customers.