United is Essentially Serving Frozen TV Dinners in First Class

by Anthony Losanno
TV Dinner

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It should come as no surprise that I have real issues with United’s catering. When you’re paying a premium for a business or first cabin, there are basic expectations and a meal that tastes good is one of them. I always buy my tickets and rarely upgrade, so I am paying for the seat and the soft product. United has been declining for years. Polaris went the way of 1,000 cuts (see “Prison Food is Better Than Polaris” here) and while they’re making modest improvements (see here for news on the return of warm nuts), they have largely lost my loyalty.

Now, Gary from View From The Wing is reporting that United is shipping frozen meals from a central kitchen for its domestic first meals.

A FlyerTalk member posted and View From The Wing shared:

I had dinner with my friend who is the GM of the inflight kitchen last night and he filled me in a little more on what exactly UA is doing at least domestically (he does not oversee a in-flight kitchen that caters UA internationally), essentially they contracted with LSG [Sky Chefs] to prepare frozen meals and ship them and any side dishes/deserts to the local in-flight kitchen.


All the local kitchen does is wash any dishes, load the trays, oven trays, load trolley carts, etc. and it is far cheaper for UA than if an airline caters the meal locally.


…Essentially he said that UA has tried to improve the frozen meals (just like AA did) but it will only make things somewhat better, unless UA goes back to fresh, the quality will only be so good.”

This explains a lot. You can’t serve a premium meal that is going from the freezer to the plate (or tacky bowl as is the case with United). Good cooks know that fresh, quality ingredients make a good meal. It appears that UA’s CEO, Scott Kirby, didn’t get that memo (or maybe he gave it to Oscar the Grouch to trash and convert into jet fuel).

United Waffle

Anthony’s Take: This should come as no surprise as the food quality at United is lacking to say the least. I had a great meal on Delta today and a halfway decent one on American the other day. I’ll keep voting with my wallet and booking other airlines.

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Greg March 15, 2023 - 8:52 pm

Thanks for raising this issue – what a travesty by United that’s costing them more than they save

And while they’re at it, get the widebodies staffed with an additional FA or other way to get a proper multicourse service back in Polaris. Letting your main go cold is no fun, and rushing thorugh your salad and app to do it isn’t either. At least adopt Lufthansa standards.

Frankfurt Airport Lufthansa
Anthony Losanno March 15, 2023 - 9:25 pm

Agreed 100%

derek March 15, 2023 - 11:38 pm

This is why I sleep on a red eye and do not fall for the lure of free food. I ask myself “am I so hungry that I need a microwave Michelina style dinner?” If not, I sleep on the red eye.

Eric March 22, 2023 - 10:34 am

Same… United has lost all of my business after being a 1K for years. Not only is the food on board horrible, but the United Clubs and Polaris lounges are also bad compared to their competitors. I’m voting with my wallet as well and UA is getting no $$ from me this year.


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