United Offering Pre-Reserved BOB Meals in Economy on Select International and P.S. Flights

If you find yourself on UA900 next month, United's non-stop service from San Francisco to Frankfurt, you now have the option to reserve premium meals for purchase in Economy.

Now during a special trial offer, you can reserve an in-flight meal before you fly. Rest assured that your meal choice will be waiting for you. Reserve an item from this simple and delicious menu and it will be delivered right to your seat.

Q: I noticed that Choice Menu options are now being offered on international flights. Does this mean that United is now going to charge for meals in economy class on international flights?

A: No. We would like to give our customers the option to purchase an upgraded, premium meal when traveling in economy class on international flights. If you choose not to upgrade your meal, you will be served a standard meal for free. If you do select a premium meal, it will replace the standard economy meal option for the first meal service on that flight, and payment will be collected on board.

If reserved, the international premium meal will replace the standard (free) offering on that flight. If the premium meal is refused or if a valid form of payment is not collected, a standard meal may not be available to the customer.

GRILLED TENDERLOIN - $19.00 (pay on board)

Treat yourself to a premium in-flight meal. Enjoy grilled tenderloin steak with compound butter, roasted fingerling potatoes and sautéed green beans; served with dessert, fresh fruit, selection of cheeses and crisp salad. Please note: your Premium Meal will replace only the first meal on your flight. Second and/or third meal service will be the standard United Economy® meal.

GRILLED CHICKEN BREAST - $19.00 (pay on board)

Opt to upgrade your in-flight meal. Enjoy grilled thyme chicken with stone ground mustard, basmati rice with chives, and sautéd mixed vegetables; served with dessert, fresh fruit, selection of cheeses and crisp salad. Please note: your Premium Meal will replace only the first meal on your flight. Second and/or third meal service will be the standard United Economy® meal.

CHEESE TORTELLINI - $19.00 (pay on board)

Indulge yourself with a premium in-flight meal. Choose cheese tortellini with roasted vegetables and marinara sauce; served with dessert, fresh fruit, selection of cheeses and crisp salad. Please note: your Premium Meal will replace only the first meal on your flight. Second and/or third meal service will be the standard United Economy® meal.

Coincidentally, the meals sound exactly like Business Class meals. And I can tell you right now--I wouldn't pay $19 for them.

Nonetheless, I can't fault UA for trying and if it doesn't cost much to procure these extra meals, hopefully they can make a few dollars. 

Right now, UA is testing out the international BOB service on UA900 only. More cities will be added if the trial is successful.

United is also testing out the new pre-reserved (cold) meal program on select p.s. flights between SFO and JFK.

CHICKEN CAESAR SALAD -- $9.00 (pay on board)

Grilled chicken, red and yellow bell pepper strips, shredded parmesan cheese on a bed of crisp romaine lettuce, served with classic caesar dressing and croutons on the side.

TURKEY SANDWICH -- $9.00 (pay on board)

Tender smoked turkey topped with crisp romaine lettuce and sundried tomato aioli sauce on multigrain bread, accompanied by Kettle Classics potato chips.

ASSORTED CHEESE TRAY -- $6.00 (pay on board)

Specially selected cheeses including montery jack, havarti dill and cheddar, dried cranberries, almonds and assorted Pepperidge Farm crackers.

CLASSIC SNACK BOX -- $6.00 (pay on board)

Kettle Backyard BBQ Chips, Oreo Cookies, Jelly Belly Gourmet Jelly Beans, Pepperidge Farm Goldfish Crackers, Sparrer Beef Salami, Gourmet Cheddar Cheese Spread, Pepperidge Farm Crackers.

I'd like to see UA offer hot meals for purchase in Economy on Hawaiian flights to/from Chicago and Denver and also allow Business and First Class passengers to reserve their meal choices on all flights. But I know that's asking for quite a lot, especially the second request... 

Details at united.com.


Nathaniel May 18, 2010 at 11:25 am

Honestly the second request seems like something that could easily happen. Save money and time by having the FA's ask what they want.. and maybe just maybe allow special requests for picky eaters. I tend to agree $19.00 Seems over priced to me. Maybe $12... but $19? I'll pass too.

@Nathaniel: $12 seems much more reasonable--but I'd still pass!

I'll be interested to see what the presentation will be like. I'll be very impressed if UA presents the meals like NZ does in Premium Economy--just like C Class.

HunterSFO May 27, 2010 at 04:19 pm

for a longhaul flight, I like this idea. I would much rather have UA's mediocre hot C meal than something I brought with me that is now 7 hours old! I havent tried UAs regular intl Y food but I have no desire to eat it... To me, well worth the $19.

But if you are going to charge people and have any financial success you have to give them quality that is in line with the price. UA figured this out with choice menu pretty well. I'm not sure most people would find UA C meals worth $19. ANA on the other hand is now selling C meals to Y pax on longhaul flights and it looks well worth the price. They are also marketing it as a "business class meal".

Also why not try selling F meals for $29 or $34? I would buy that. It might be a decent, low-risk option for a small revenue stram - something airlines need.

@HunterSFO: UA's LFML/LSML/HNML are not that bad in international Economy. I had four longhauls last year in Y and had a particularly tasty LFML ex-SYD.

I like the food in UA C, but I guess I'm too cheap too shell out the money for an enhanced meal. Your idea to sell F meals as well is a good one--though in many markets 3/4 choices are identical to what is offered in C.

Your idea about marketing the food as "Business Class" meals is excellent. UA would be wise to re-brand the menu as "premium class" offerings. I haven't had an opportunity to fly ANA yet, but I would be tempted to for out the money if the choices sounded good.

our firm enables pre-buy for carriers with a mult-channel software system. we welcome United's test program and their menu will likely improve over time should trial prove a success.

for instance, we envision wine/cheese pairing (in a self-contained attractive package, half of full bottle options, two wine style plastic cups, etc).

meals options are unlimited. a challenge for carriers is y class not competing with business/first hence packaging will be critical (great food within, but not a tray setup style).

welcome menu and pricing suggestions; I will pass them along to carriers.

just to be clear, my firm is not working with UAL on this trial (again, we welcome such as it benefits both industry and paxs)

Joe July 29, 2012 at 01:41 pm

Obviously the first phase of a program to desensitize travelers to the idea of paying for in-flight meals on international flights. First, get SOME people to pay for "premium" meals. Then we'll change the policy to EVERYone paying for ANY meal.

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