United’s Catering is So Bad, is it Really a Loss When Meals are Cut From More Flights?

by Anthony Losanno
United Plane

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United Airlines’ premium in-flight catering has improved since its lowest point during Covid, but the meals are still nothing better than what you’d be served in a hospital cafeteria. Matthew at Live and Let’s Fly reports that United is making a change to which routes are catered with hot meals and that in 2024, only those over 900 miles will see them. My question: who cares?

United Meals

United Airlines currently serves hot meals on flights over 800 miles in its First and Business Class cabins (which are the same, but marketed differently based on route) in North America, the Caribbean, and Latin America.

United Meal

I’ve tried all of them and they range from blah (the chicken thighs pictured above) to downright rancid (the lasagne that is currently being served). While Matthew laments meals being pulled on flights under 900 miles in 2024, I applaud the move and here is why. United is not going to invest in its catering. It’s made this quite clear. What it serves is borderline inedible and it seems like the airline is okay with this take.

Sure, United will try to play up its in-flight dining from time to time and I give the airline credit for the ease with which a meal can be preordered. But, when the meals are so bad that I rarely eat more than a few bites (if that), is it really so bad that they’ll be cut altogether?

United Meal

If United decides to actually invest in catering, then I might change my tune. Bring back the soups Continental used to serve. Go with simple and healthy meals. Spend more than 83 cents on something you’re presenting to your highest spending, most valuable customers. There are many reasons why United was bumped to my number two carrier this year behind Delta and that I gave up on holding Global Services (or even 1K next year when I drop to Premier Platinum) and catering was on the list (along with untrustworthy Wi-Fi, mediocre service, and delays).

Anthony’s Take: United has proven time and again that catering is not important to the carrier. Planes are full, fares are high, and it’s selling most of the seats in its premium cabins. If this changes, the airline might have to do something about its soft product, but until then bring your own food or go hungry when you’re presented with the slop it serves at 35,000 feet. At least the items in the snack baskets are edible.

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United Diner December 15, 2023 - 8:46 am

I actually like the cheese enchilada. But the version with 2 cucumber slices and 2 cherry tomatoes on the salad. Not the chopped iceberg with edename which is frozen solid.

Christian December 15, 2023 - 11:01 am

I almost spit out my drink when I read the headline. Thanks for the laugh. That said I don’t really agree. While I’m not in love with United’s catering and I don’t fly them as often as you I do think that some food option is better than none.


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