Go Back  FlyerTalk Forums > Miles&Points > Airlines and Mileage Programs > United Airlines | MileagePlus
Reload this Page >

Discussion of the Quality of UA's In-Flight Meals

Discussion of the Quality of UA's In-Flight Meals

Old Jan 9, 20, 11:53 am
  #91  
 
Join Date: Feb 2015
Programs: united
Posts: 1,229
Originally Posted by spin88 View Post
I think we can all agree that United has a better network, and better hubs than does Delta. Pre "changes you will like" UA+CO used to be bigger than Delta, and more profitable than Delta (which was then one carrier). Despite several billion in synergies from the merger (which to some extent offset some of the damages from Jeff's horrible business plan), Delta is now not only bigger but more profitable. In the 3rd Quarter 2019 (latest quarter we have) United had $11.38B in revenue, and $1.349B in pre-tax income, a 11.9% margin. Delta had $12.56B in revenue, $1.947B in pre-tax income, and a 16.5% operating margin.

So Delta, which has edible meals, better wine/booze/coffee, in-seat IFE, new more comfortable new planes (A220s/A321s/A350s) and much better service in general, and not as good of a route-network, manages to not only attract a much higher rate of revenue growth over the last 9 years, but to become much more profitable as well. And this is quarter, after quarter, year after year.

The reality is that with consolidation and an economy that is doing well, as well as stable moderate fuel prices, only a complete and total idiot would not make money in the current market. United's business plan over much of the last 9 years has been the equivalent of an idiot (just not a total idiot) driving away enough high value traffic with sub-par product and service, to become a serial laggard in financial metrics. Things had started to get better under Oscar in 2016, but United is back to it's old penny wise, pound foolish cost cutting, and the results show.
I don't believe this one bit. United is immensely popular with a lot of high value customers in Silicon Valley, for instance.

And honestly, I think considering on-board food in isolation of Polaris lounges is a huge mistake. I don't think HVF's care THAT much about getting a five star meal in the sky.
dilanesp is offline  
Old Jan 9, 20, 11:57 am
  #92  
Moderator: United Airlines; FlyerTalk Evangelist
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: SFO
Programs: UA Plat 1.85MM, Hyatt Discoverist, Marriott Plat/LT Gold, Hilton Silver, IHG Gold
Posts: 51,755
Topic Reminder

Let's stay on the food topic, if a discussion of financials is desired, best to start a separate thread. While costs and food are related, a deep financial discussion would get into a multitude of non-food issues.

WineCountryUA
UA coModerator
WineCountryUA is offline  
Old Jan 9, 20, 12:28 pm
  #93  
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Morris County, NJ
Programs: UA 1K/*G, Avis Pres, Marriott Plat
Posts: 1,739
Originally Posted by dilanesp View Post
I don't think HVF's care THAT much about getting a five star meal in the sky.
Schedule > Comfort > Amenities.

For food, I think the entire idea of the Polaris lounge is excellent. Have a well prepared meal on the ground (and yes, the Polaris burger is stinkin' delicious)... and then sleep through meal service in the air. This is exactly what my family & I did on our transatl trip this past summer and it works extremely well.

Originally Posted by WineCountryUA View Post
Ovens were removed (in the front, not the back) of TED aircraft -- which had no F. But restored when F was re-instated on those aircraft. This was a couple of years prior to the merger
Thank you for the confirmation! I must be thinking of the rear galley ovens, which only came back when warm BoB offerings came around. That had to be in the ~2010-2011 timeframe, right? At merger time I was a purely pmCO flyer. I remember having hot food and lousy coffee on pmCO, but good coffee and cold food on pmUA!

Anywho, can I be the first to start the "Bring back the BoB Asian Noodle Salad" campaign?

Last edited by dmurphynj; Jan 9, 20 at 12:53 pm
dmurphynj is offline  
Old Jan 9, 20, 1:19 pm
  #94  
 
Join Date: Feb 2015
Programs: united
Posts: 1,229
Originally Posted by dmurphynj View Post
Schedule > Comfort > Amenities.

For food, I think the entire idea of the Polaris lounge is excellent. Have a well prepared meal on the ground (and yes, the Polaris burger is stinkin' delicious)... and then sleep through meal service in the air. This is exactly what my family & I did on our transatl trip this past summer and it works extremely well.
If I ran a legacy airline (or one of the major foreign carriers), I would work with one of the companies that operates airport lounges to create Polaris-style lounges at major destinations, and then build Polaris-style lounges at my own hubs. And access would be restricted similar to the way Polaris lounges are- no FF'ers, no memberships, no day passes, reserved for premium cabin passengers on the longest routes. The contract lounges might allow other airlines' passengers, but again with the same restrictions- business and first class tickets only, only on the longest routes.

So that if a flyer of my airline was getting on a plane in, say, Buenos Aires or Osaka, he or she could go to a lounge at the same standard as a Polaris lounge. And of course, if that passenger got on at any my hubs, same story.

Because ultimately, something like that would add a boatload more value to a business class ticket than onboard meals do.
dilanesp is offline  
Old Jan 9, 20, 1:44 pm
  #95  
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: PDX
Programs: HHonors Diamond, United 1K
Posts: 673
You guys are going to roast me, but yes, would rather have a meal in the Polaris lounge over Polaris meal service when I vacation twice a year. Frankly, I think the snack boxes or fast food is more enjoyable than Polaris meals on TATL flights. Only take Polaris so I can get decent sleep really, not for the meal service.
ekwang is offline  
Old Jan 9, 20, 1:57 pm
  #96  
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Programs: UA Plat, BA Gold
Posts: 1,555
And Brussels Airlines recently upped the quality of their TATL food as well (as well as refreshing the seats, and adding an in-flight Belgian beer bar). UA is really at the bottom in terms of quality of in-flight food, and starting to be matched with seating as well..
Artpen100 is offline  
Old Jan 9, 20, 2:53 pm
  #97  
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Programs: 6 year GS, now 2MM Jeff-ugee, *wood LTPlt, SkyPeso PLT
Posts: 6,506
Originally Posted by dmurphynj View Post
For food, I think the entire idea of the Polaris lounge is excellent. Have a well prepared meal on the ground (and yes, the Polaris burger is stinkin' delicious)... and then sleep through meal service in the air. This is exactly what my family & I did on our transatl trip this past summer and it works extremely well.
Your post reminds me that there are two VERY different sets of fliers, and it helps to put ourselves into each others shoes. You are (I assume from your handle and prior posts) flying ex-EWR. If you are taking a TATL flight ex-EWR, you are in the air for 6-7 hours, 10 hours max. Rome is 8.5 hours, Athens is almost 10 hours. But UA is not flying anything longer than that in Europe, and a lot of the TATL traffic is shorter (e.g. EWR-LHR is 7 hours).

Most people will routinely go that length of time and not eat, or you can eat before you board, then you can just eat the breakfast before landing, or skip food all together. Given the late night depatures ex-EWR, I can see eating first in the lounge, trying to get as much sleep as possible.

I am flying out of SFO. LHR-SFO is 11+ hours; SFO-HKG is 14+ hours, SFO-SIN is 16+ hours. If I fly on UA, I eat at the AMEX lounge. I can skip the first meal, but usually don't as it falls in lunch time, but I am going to have to have something decent to snack on, and I would be ravenously hungry by the time I landed without food. E.g. Just came back from HKG on SQ. I ate at the AMEX lounge (and the SQ lounge as well) skipped the first meal, but went and got a snack,and I was quite ready for breakfast when it arrived.

Just not eating because UA gives you dog food is just not in the card.

And for those who are not initiating at EWR, going to the Polaris lounge may not be an option. United sells a lot of connections - and usually this is what is offered - with a hour, hour and a half max connection. That is usually not enough time to go to the lounge, let along to go and order food. So for the guy/gal flying into EWR, or going through customs at EWR then running to catch a plane, going to have a relaxing time at the Polaris lounge is not in the cards.

I would go so far as to say that for nearly all passengers (those initiating at EWR on short hops to Europe) the option of eating at the Polaris lounge and just skipping what UA serves on the plane is not an option. Your situation is the exception, not the rule.
dmurphynj likes this.
spin88 is offline  
Old Jan 9, 20, 2:59 pm
  #98  
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: AVP & PEK
Programs: UA 1K 1.6MM, Hertz PC
Posts: 3,978
Originally Posted by spin88 View Post
Your post reminds me that there are two VERY different sets of fliers, and it helps to put ourselves into each others shoes. You are (I assume from your handle and prior posts) flying ex-EWR. If you are taking a TATL flight ex-EWR, you are in the air for 6-7 hours, 10 hours max. Rome is 8.5 hours, Athens is almost 10 hours. But UA is not flying anything longer than that in Europe, and a lot of the TATL traffic is shorter (e.g. EWR-LHR is 7 hours).

Most people will routinely go that length of time and not eat, or you can eat before you board, then you can just eat the breakfast before landing, or skip food all together. Given the late night depatures ex-EWR, I can see eating first in the lounge, trying to get as much sleep as possible.

I am flying out of SFO. LHR-SFO is 11+ hours; SFO-HKG is 14+ hours, SFO-SIN is 16+ hours. If I fly on UA, I eat at the AMEX lounge. I can skip the first meal, but usually don't as it falls in lunch time, but I am going to have to have something decent to snack on, and I would be ravenously hungry by the time I landed without food. E.g. Just came back from HKG on SQ. I ate at the AMEX lounge (and the SQ lounge as well) skipped the first meal, but went and got a snack,and I was quite ready for breakfast when it arrived.
Not all flights from EWR go to Europe.
UA from EWR has plenty of (almost) ULH flights!

Last edited by narvik; Jan 9, 20 at 3:08 pm
narvik is offline  
Old Jan 9, 20, 3:10 pm
  #99  
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Morris County, NJ
Programs: UA 1K/*G, Avis Pres, Marriott Plat
Posts: 1,739
Originally Posted by WineCountryUA View Post
Ovens were removed (in the front, not the back) of TED aircraft -- which had no F. But restored when F was re-instated on those aircraft. This was a couple of years prior to the merger
TED IS DEAD (or will be) 6/4/08 [Merged Threads]
Originally Posted by spin88 View Post
Your post reminds me that there are two VERY different sets of fliers, and it helps to put ourselves into each others shoes. You are (I assume from your handle and prior posts) flying ex-EWR. If you are taking a TATL flight ex-EWR, you are in the air for 6-7 hours, 10 hours max. Rome is 8.5 hours, Athens is almost 10 hours. But UA is not flying anything longer than that in Europe, and a lot of the TATL traffic is shorter (e.g. EWR-LHR is 7 hours).

Most people will routinely go that length of time and not eat, or you can eat before you board, then you can just eat the breakfast before landing, or skip food all together. Given the late night depatures ex-EWR, I can see eating first in the lounge, trying to get as much sleep as possible.

I am flying out of SFO. LHR-SFO is 11+ hours; SFO-HKG is 14+ hours, SFO-SIN is 16+ hours. If I fly on UA, I eat at the AMEX lounge. I can skip the first meal, but usually don't as it falls in lunch time, but I am going to have to have something decent to snack on, and I would be ravenously hungry by the time I landed without food. E.g. Just came back from HKG on SQ. I ate at the AMEX lounge (and the SQ lounge as well) skipped the first meal, but went and got a snack,and I was quite ready for breakfast when it arrived.

Just not eating because UA gives you dog food is just not in the card.

And for those who are not initiating at EWR, going to the Polaris lounge may not be an option. United sells a lot of connections - and usually this is what is offered - with a hour, hour and a half max connection. That is usually not enough time to go to the lounge, let along to go and order food. So for the guy/gal flying into EWR, or going through customs at EWR then running to catch a plane, going to have a relaxing time at the Polaris lounge is not in the cards.

I would go so far as to say that for nearly all passengers (those initiating at EWR on short hops to Europe) the option of eating at the Polaris lounge and just skipping what UA serves on the plane is not an option. Your situation is the exception, not the rule.
I completely agree, and yet disagree all at once... LOL.

You are 100,000% correct in that there's so many different scenarios! We all live different lives and travel patterns. Mine is pretty much exclusively domestic, with an occasional (once every few years) jaunt to Europe with the family. Otherwise, it's somewhere in the lower 48. And yes, I'm ex-EWR, so the longest domestic leg is about 6.5 hours, and longest even to Europe is 9 hours. No desire, need or want to go to Asia, so not too concerns with TPAC's.

That's my travel pattern. If United has 10 million customers, they have 20 million flight patterns!

That said ... with the coming IAD Polaris lounge, as well as the ORD lounge, that covers the vast majority of the European traffic. Sure, you can do SFO-LHR, but that's, what, twice a day? EWR-LHR is at least double that, even more during peak seasons. And even SFO-LHR is only 10h:35m... shorter than EWR-HNL.

I don't disagree at all that a meal would be necessary during SFO-LHR. But let's assume you eat at the Polaris lounge first, then sleep the first 5-6 hours onboard. The next meal doesn't need to be nearly as heavy - a nice light-ish style breakfast would be perfect. Tide you over just fine till you're boots on the ground, even from SFO.

As for connection times - you've got ORD, IAD and EWR all with European connections. If you time it right, a 2-2.5 hour layover at any of those is achievable from almost anywhere in the domestic system.

Now, the return back to the US - absolutely a problem. 100%.

And I'm certainly not letting UA off the hook for bad food ... but really, it's not as dire a situation as it appears. Anything 12 hours or less, a Polaris meal on the ground + an inflight mid-course is fine.

I don't expect a steak from Bern's or Sparks, but a decent quality (Panera-like) mid course would be fine with me ...
dmurphynj is offline  
Old Jan 9, 20, 3:33 pm
  #100  
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: DAY
Programs: UA 1K 1MM; Marriott LT Plat Premier (+AMB); Amex MR; Chase UR; Hertz PC; Global Entry
Posts: 7,679
I disagree overall with the whole notion that United food is an either / or option when it comes to on-board versus Polaris Lounge. Flying J should be about options for each particular traveler, to fit their particular schedule. There should be acceptable food choices everywhere. And PL are only available at some hubs, and none overseas. So irrelevant on "return" flights.

Polaris service has turned into a cookie-cutter, assembly line affair. Staffing cuts and high density...
goodeats21 is offline  
Old Jan 9, 20, 4:00 pm
  #101  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: IAD/DCA/FLL/MIA
Programs: UA*Lifetime GS, SQ*PPS, AA*EXP, Hyatt*Globalist
Posts: 10,984
Originally Posted by goodeats21 View Post
I disagree overall with the whole notion that United food is an either / or option when it comes to on-board versus Polaris Lounge. Flying J should be about options for each particular traveler, to fit their particular schedule. There should be acceptable food choices everywhere. And PL are only available at some hubs, and none overseas. So irrelevant on "return" flights.

Polaris service has turned into a cookie-cutter, assembly line affair. Staffing cuts and high density...
I totally agree!

This thread is about UA’s in-flight meal quality. If one wants to praise or criticize Polaris Lounge offerings, then there are other threads dealing with that.

Similarly, as the moderator has constantly remained us, as an example, this thread does not deal with financial results of UA, so let’s just focus on UA’s (lack of) quality of its in-flight meals instead bringing lounge food or profit into the discussion.

There is also a thread on “Polaris Experience”, so if one wants to talk the total Polaris experience (Lounge, in-flight meals, services, IFE, seats and comfort), feel free express views in that thread.

I would like to have thread that we can solely focus on the discussion of UA’s quality of in-flight meal objectively.
UA_Flyer is offline  
Old Jan 9, 20, 4:47 pm
  #102  
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: AVP & PEK
Programs: UA 1K 1.6MM, Hertz PC
Posts: 3,978
Originally Posted by UA_Flyer View Post
I would like to have thread that we can solely focus on the discussion of UA’s quality of in-flight meal objectively.
Fair enough.

Subjectively it would be a very short thread: "It's awful. The end."
narvik is offline  
Old Jan 9, 20, 5:36 pm
  #103  
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Programs: 6 year GS, now 2MM Jeff-ugee, *wood LTPlt, SkyPeso PLT
Posts: 6,506
Originally Posted by dmurphynj View Post

That said ... with the coming IAD Polaris lounge, as well as the ORD lounge, that covers the vast majority of the European traffic. Sure, you can do SFO-LHR, but that's, what, twice a day? EWR-LHR is at least double that, even more during peak seasons. And even SFO-LHR is only 10h:35m... shorter than EWR-HNL.
I am not going to fly SFO-EWR-Europe on UA so I can stop off at a Polaris lounge so as to avoid eating United's dog food (and Polaris is not available on a PE ticket, which is what I usually fly with the family). Only way I would ever connect at EWR is (a) if it was materially cheaper, and (b) I had a lot of back up to deal with flight issues. E.g. I have to take my daughter to Zurich in April, Combo PE/J fare are running about $2K, if UA sold it to me for $1300-1400 I might pop. But then the flight that connects to a decent lie flat plane only allows an hour and 15 minute connection, so Polaris is useless to me. On a work trip, I will never connect in IAD or EWR. Never. Not once. I will fly every single time to Europe on the direct, change at LHR, FRA/MUC, CDG, CPH, etc.

I think that decent food, coffee, drinks, and wine is table stakes to compete in the J market. And it is also relevant in the PE market. Arguably less so in Y. But I think that perhaps 80% of J passengers, and 50% of PE and Y passengers probably come away dissatisfied with the food being offered by UA over time that is not sustainable, it costs United business.
AeRoSpaceman likes this.
spin88 is offline  
Old Jan 9, 20, 6:37 pm
  #104  
A FlyerTalk Posting Legend
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Programs: UA 1K .97MM, IHG AMB-Spire, HH Diamond
Posts: 53,532
The garlic bread used to be small nicety (pretty decent) while the food quality took a dive. Is that still the case? Bread basket in general? My next TPAC in J isn’t for another 5-6 weeks

I also wish they would offer nut ramekin refills. I got that a couple times PMUA IPTE.
uastarflyer is offline  
Old Jan 9, 20, 7:24 pm
  #105  
 
Join Date: May 2001
Posts: 4,409
Originally Posted by ekwang View Post
You guys are going to roast me, but yes, would rather have a meal in the Polaris lounge over Polaris meal service when I vacation twice a year. Frankly, I think the snack boxes or fast food is more enjoyable than Polaris meals on TATL flights. Only take Polaris so I can get decent sleep really, not for the meal service.
And for those who prefer to eat on the plane it's acceptable to serve them a dogs dinner in their highest cabin?
AeRoSpaceman likes this.
worldtrav is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search Engine: