United upgrades premium-class meals

Back in the day, young women were given the advice that, “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” Apparently, what’s old is new again as Chicago-based United Airlines (NYSE:UAL) recently announced it was upgrading the lunch, dinner and beverage choices as it attempts to reach the hearts of its domestic upmarket passengers.

Earlier this month, the airline began offering customers in premium cabins on longer North America flights four new salad entrée choices, replacing the previous chicken and shrimp salad options. Additional upgraded meals will be offered starting Sept. 1, including several with an Italian theme. This fall, passengers in the premium cabins will also be able to sip Prosecco, an Italian sparkling wine.

Strawberry Fields salad
"These changes mark the beginning of an extensive overhaul of our North America and international food service, offering travelers a level of service above that offered by our peers," Lynda Coffman, United's vice president of food services, said in a statement announcing the upgrades. "Our new selections offer customers more of what they tell us they want when they travel – variety, bold flavor combinations and higher quality."

On transcontinental flights and on longer mid-continental dinner flights, the airline will continue to offer customers a choice between a pasta dish and a chicken or beef option.

By mid-2015, the carrier will expand premium-cabin meals within North America to flights of more than two hours, 20 minutes in duration or 800 miles in distance. At that time, the airline will also offer upgraded meal options to premium-cabin customers on United Express flights, replacing snack boxes with freshly prepared food.

Designed by United's team of chefs, the new salads and sandwiches will be made fresh daily and paired with a gluten-free soup, along with United's signature service elements, including warmed nuts, premium snacks and warmed cookies, the airline said.

Lest it forget that most of its passengers fly in steerage, the airline also announced that, by mid-2015, it would be “significantly enhancing United Economy means and beverages on long-haul international flights.” The airline defines long-haul flights as those longer than 2,300 miles, or five hours or longer in duration.

Snack boxes
United called its food and beverage enhancements its latest investment in its customers' onboard experience, citing prior investments in premium-cabin flat-bed seats on every long-haul international flight to and from the continental United States, WiFi on more than 290 aircraft, and live television on more than 200 aircraft, which it claims is the world's largest fleet of aircraft with live television.

It is also offering a beta version of “personal device entertainment,” which allows passengers access to a library of movies and TV shows they can watch on their personal laptop or Apple® iOS devices. It is also working to expand the service to include Android devices in the near future.

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Photos provided by United Airlines
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