N777UA
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United To Begin Selling Food On Planes

Tue Apr 22, 2003 1:44 pm

United Tests $7 Breakfasts, $10 Lunches
Mon Apr 21, 6:39 PM ET Add Business - AP to My Yahoo!


By DAVE CARPENTER, AP Business Writer

CHICAGO - United Airlines is upgrading to "restaurant-quality" meals on some of its flights this week. But just like in restaurants, most passengers will have to pay for them.

The nation's No. 2 airline, looking to raise revenue as it overhauls its money-losing operations in bankruptcy, began a six-day experiment Monday selling meals on its daily flights between Denver and Seattle.

Reflecting difficult times in the airline industry, United is the latest and biggest carrier to test the concept of charging for in-flight meals. America West, Northwest and US Airways conducted trials in select markets earlier this year.

United, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in December, scaled back its food service in January, eliminating meals on domestic flights lasting less than 3 1/2 hours. It is now considering restoring them in some markets, but this time they won't be free for economy-class passengers who want them.

Breakfast will cost $7 and lunch and dinner will be $10, while passengers in first class and business class will get the same selections for free.

"It's a convenience for our passengers and a possible new source of revenue for United," said Bill Dove, director of worldwide catering.

United is teaming with Gate Gourmet to offer what it characterized as restaurant-quality meals from Eli's Cheesecake Company. Passengers will have their choice of two options for breakfast and lunch/dinner, with different selections on the return leg.

For breakfast, they can opt for continental — cinnamon crumb cake, hazelnut biscotti, fresh fruit and berries — or hearty brunch, which consists of a croissant sandwich with smoked turkey, Swiss cheese, hard-boiled egg slices and lettuce plus a raspberry strudel pastry bar and fresh fruit and berries.

One of the lunch/dinner offerings, served in a decorative basket, is a grilled turkey sandwich with a bowl of fresh fruit and a chocolate chunk cookie. United spokeswoman Chris Nardella didn't immediately have information on the other choices.

The selections didn't entice analysts, who are skeptical the concept will take hold in the industry despite all the recent tinkering.

"Airline food has been so bad — and getting scarcer — that people have been buying airport food to bring on board," said Scott Hamilton (news - web sites), an independent airline analyst based in the Seattle area.

"Buying food on board will eliminate the hassle of having to carry one more thing, but the question will be whether passengers will get what they perceive to be a good value for the price paid, and whether food quality will be better than before."

Airline travel analyst Terry Trippler said the concept isn't likely to generate huge revenue and would open the airlines up to new complaints from passengers and even flight attendants at a time they can't afford them.

"Under the circumstances, the way things are, now is maybe not the time," said Trippler, of Minneapolis-based cheapseats.com. "With the war in Iraq (news - web sites) over, travel is about to take off so I don't think airlines should make drastic decisions like that. Let's get people back on the planes and see what happens."




 
UALPHLCS
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RE: United To Begin Selling Food On Planes

Tue Apr 22, 2003 1:50 pm

Insteresting side fact. Its the inflight caterer who is paying for the tests and the concepts. Apparently with the carriers pulling food service from shorter flights inflight caterers like GateGourmet and Skychef are felling the finacial pinch and are pitching new ways to offer thier products on the airplanes.

That being the case is say go for it. It competition raises the quality of the food and brings it back to more flight s I am all for it.
A little less Hooah, and a little more Dooah.
 
usair330
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RE: United To Begin Selling Food On Planes

Tue Apr 22, 2003 1:51 pm

I seen that on the news today (for yaw in Philly channel 6) and the news anchor said they should be paying us to eat there food.  Laugh out loud
 
UALPHLCS
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RE: United To Begin Selling Food On Planes

Tue Apr 22, 2003 11:24 pm

HA HA HA. Thats why they are a news anchor and not a comedian.

Frankly the airline food thing has always rubbed me the wrong way.

People hate airline food dateing back to some genuine problems from 30 years ago when the technology for prepareing food for high altitude was not as good. Quality has improved but the joke is still a cheap laugh.

Fast forward to just after 9-11 and airlines begin to remove food service from planes for financial reasons and customers scream bloddy murder about food they don't even like!

WN doesn't offer food. Airports are now offering really decent food that can be carried on. The airlines gets skewerd for taking away something that people dont even want in the first place.

If the caterers have found a way for airlines to sell food to passengers that is better than the stuff they ave away and is offered on more flights then good for the caterers they should be appauled for coming up with a solution that keeps them in buisness.
A little less Hooah, and a little more Dooah.
 
hi_flyer
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RE: United To Begin Selling Food On Planes

Wed Apr 23, 2003 12:18 am

"Airline food has been so bad ??? and getting scarcer ??? that people have been buying airport food to bring on board," said Scott Hamilton (news - web sites), an independent airline analyst based in the Seattle area.

This is an excellent point. Especially with low fare airlines, it makes so much more sense to grab something to eat before you board the plane. The few dollars that you spend on the meal are peanuts (pun intended) compared to the money you save on your ticket. Even on full service airlines, the quality is usually better than the airline food, and you can choose exactly what you like.

Whenever I fly (from YGK) I have to connect through YYZ, so I always take a few minutes in the terminal there to pick up a sandwich from Tim Horton's (a Canadian soup, sandwich, and donut institution, for those of you who have yet to experience it) before I board. At YVR last month, I even saw a cafe that sold pre-made airline meals, with a sandwich, drink, and cookie all in a little plastic box that you just put in the overhead compartment until you're ready to eat.

Hi_flyer
 
Sabena 690
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RE: United To Begin Selling Food On Planes

Wed Apr 23, 2003 12:27 am

Excellent initiative! Hopefully they introduce this on all domestic services.

I prefer to pay for a descent meal, instead of having to eat those pretzels.

Regards
Frederic
 
Matt D
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RE: United To Begin Selling Food On Planes

Wed Apr 23, 2003 12:31 am

Isn't interesting how food has always been abundant everywhere in this country except aboard commercial aircraft?
 
Ciro
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RE: United To Begin Selling Food On Planes

Wed Apr 23, 2003 12:45 am

With the current trends, what are the odds for airlines to partner with restaurant chains in the airports for take-on-board meals? True it requires huge logistics, but the same was already argued when selling in-flight meals, etc.
The fastest way to become a millionaire in the airline business is to start as a billionaire.
 
N777UA
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RE: United To Begin Selling Food On Planes

Wed Apr 23, 2003 12:48 am

United's had a partnership with Eli's for years...there's always a slice of cheesecake with your dinner (usually, if you get dinner).
 
ual777contrail
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RE: United To Begin Selling Food On Planes

Wed Apr 23, 2003 12:57 am

Ciro,
They will also be using WOLFGANG PUCK food.

that's a start.

ual 777 contrail
 
KROC
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RE: United To Begin Selling Food On Planes

Wed Apr 23, 2003 1:13 am

Isn't it amazing that some people cannot last 3 or 4 hours on an airplane without being fed? I mean how tough is it to eat before or after your flight. Wait, maybe even plan ahead, and bring someone on board with you? I'm not about to pay 10 bucks for turkey sandwich and a cookie. I also don't need to be fed is my flight is under the "meal limit". If I get a meal great, if not, who cares. I fly to get to point b from point a, as fast and safe as possible. Not so I can eat or complain about not getting food. The option to buy something to eat though, I feel is a good idea.
 
citationjet
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RE: United To Begin Selling Food On Planes

Wed Apr 23, 2003 2:13 am

People cannot last two hours in a movie without buying candy bars, popcorn and soft drinks either.
If you are taking a connecting cross country flight, with a 30 minutes connection, the elapsed time before you can eat can easily become 6 hours. A 3 hour flight - 30 minute connection - followed by a 2 hour flight.

UALPHLCS says that People hate airline food dating back to some genuine problems from 30 years ago when the technology for preparing food for high altitude was not as good. Quality has improved but the joke is still a cheap laugh.
However, in 1979 I remember flying the original Frontier airlines ICT-DEN and getting steak served on china, with cloth table cloth, real silverware, and free wine...on an all coach airline on a flight that was slightly over an hour.
In the 1970's, the first time I had Baked Alaska was on a Braniff DC-8 flying in south america.


Boeing Flown: 701,702,703;717;720;721,722;731,732,733,734,735,737,738,739;741,742,743,744,747SP;752,753;762,763;772,773.
 
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yyz717
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RE: United To Begin Selling Food On Planes

Wed Apr 23, 2003 5:01 am

Isn't it amazing that some people cannot last 3 or 4 hours on an airplane without being fed?

That's why there's an epidemic of obesity in North America. Too many gluttonous pigs.
I dumped at the gybe mark in strong winds when I looked up at a Porter Q400 on finals. Can't stop spotting.
 
UALPHLCS
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RE: United To Begin Selling Food On Planes

Wed Apr 23, 2003 5:16 am

Citationjet That was truly the excepyion not the rule. I remember as a kid in the late seventues being treated to my first steak and eggs for breakfast. Now one of my favorite breakfasts. The steak was the size of a hockey puck but it was decent and it was in Y class on a United DC-10. I also remember a Honey lemon chicken with Cracked peppercorn I was served on a flight from DEN-PHL. I tried and failed to duplicate it a home. So you can get some truly good fod on airlines.

This myth that airlines alert the caterers after a bird strike persists. But airlines had better not take away my free bird strike sandwich. Its a catch 22 the airlines can't get out of.

But we are making broad generalizations here about airline food. That being the case quality has improved. I like what I get served for lunch in the little box on UA but I hate the breakfasts.

Last truly great food I was introduced to was called Heart of Palm in my salad LHR-IAD last summer. I've been introduced to more new foods on airlines than anywhere else. That's a credit to the caterers.
A little less Hooah, and a little more Dooah.
 
captaingomes
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RE: United To Begin Selling Food On Planes

Wed Apr 23, 2003 5:21 am

I personally enjoy having a meal on board an aircraft. A 3 or 4 hour flight is not how you should look at it. First, everybody is assuming the flight is not delayed. Then, everybody assumes that everything goes as planned, and you make it to the airport with enough time to stand in line to check in, stand in line to go through security, and then stand in line to board the aircraft. In that time, there is often little or no time to .... stand in line to purchase food to bring on board. If you include all that time and effort, having to budget time to buy a meal at the airport is sometimes just not feasible. After all is said and done, you have the flight which in this example is 3 or 4 hours long, then you have to arrive, pick up your baggage, and leave. You can sometimes add another 2 hours after landing. So after all is said and done, if you don't get food on board, you are looking at a very long time before you can feed yourself for just a 4 hour flight. Do you all see the need for some food now?

I think for an airline like United charging for meals might prove to be a mistake. They must trim costs as well as increase revenue. How to accomplish this becomes the hard part. In my opinion, if the airline starts charging for food, they might as well drop ticket prices, becuase a lot of people wont be flying with them because of that. You can kiss some revenue goodbye because of that. In a move such as this, United is saying they aren't any better than a LCC, and wont give more than a LCC. So with these messages, how can they charge more than a LCC? People just wont pay the difference.

Then you have the fact that the airline must estimate how many meals they bring on board. These meals still cost money. If you bring too many on board, it costs the airline more than it should. If they bring less on board, it's less revenue and more pissed off customers who wanted a meal and didn't get it.

I wish people would see that eliminating meals is much more complicated than the simple cost per meal per passenger. So many other variables are at stake, and must be painstakingly analyzed by the airline so they can determine if it makes economic sense. One final revenue related item. People will not directly pay more than a certain amount for an airline meal. However, airlines that offer full service can probably get away with charging more than this X amount, and give that meal away. It's a matter of perception that the customer is getting more for little money. This is of course more true when travel isn't suffering as much as it is today.



"it's kind of like an Airbus, it's an engineering marvel, but there's no sense of passion" -- J. Clarkson re: Coxster
 
swaluvfa
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RE: United To Begin Selling Food On Planes

Wed Apr 23, 2003 5:35 am

Airlines are in the transportation indusrty NOT the restaraunt and food services indusrty. The general public has made it VERY clear what they want when they fly. Affordable fares, no thrills. The airlines are only giving passengers what they want now. Point A to point B with a reasonable fare. Passengers never liked the meals that we served anyway. I used to fly for United and people ALWAYS complained about the meals we served. This was before 9/11 when we served meals on practically ALL of our flights!  Smile
Geez those were the days. Hot Dinner from ORD-DCA on a packed A320.
 
captaingomes
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RE: United To Begin Selling Food On Planes

Wed Apr 23, 2003 5:49 am

Airline meals don't have to be poor. I used to work for a charter airline in Canada, and we rarely got meal complaints. We had a couple of meals that were truly poor, but all the others that we served were not bad at all. If UA is getting lots of complaints about their food, maybe it really is poor quality.
"it's kind of like an Airbus, it's an engineering marvel, but there's no sense of passion" -- J. Clarkson re: Coxster
 
DIA
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RE: United To Begin Selling Food On Planes

Wed Apr 23, 2003 5:55 am

They should go way back, when everyone on the plane was handed a menu, or a menu was in the seat pocket. They would make a lot of extra cash that way. And yes, I'd order. I have always enjoyed eating at altitude as I gaze down at the geography. Have I had some bad meals? Of course, but the majority have been good enough, especially in business and/or 1st Classes.

DIA
Ding! You are now free to keep supporting Frontier.
 
UALPHLCS
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RE: United To Begin Selling Food On Planes

Wed Apr 23, 2003 5:57 am

Where did anyone get the idea that UA had been getting compalints about thier food? That was never said. Mostly what was said was that people have been omplaining about airline food in general for 30 years. UA was never singled out in this post as having worse food than others.
A little less Hooah, and a little more Dooah.
 
N777UA
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RE: United To Begin Selling Food On Planes

Wed Apr 23, 2003 6:01 am

I dunno about other airlines, but back when there was money, United had awesome food. In Aug. 2001 on a ORD-LAX flight (A320), had an awesome swiss cheese omelette, in coach, which was one of three options.

Even now, the food they still have is awesome. When I flew LAX-ORD on a 777 a couple months ago, had an oriental chicken salad, which was huge, and quite filling.

By the way, meals will still be free in First and Business, only in Economy will they charge for them.
 
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yyz717
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RE: United To Begin Selling Food On Planes

Wed Apr 23, 2003 6:21 am

I think for an airline like United charging for meals might prove to be a mistake.

I think it's the right approach. If you eat, you pay for it. If you don't eat, you don't pay for food. Business travellers can claim on-board food expense with their company travel expenses. Vacationers who are lower yield can complain but they are less relevant to airline profitability.

Anyway, in the worst case scenario that someone flies transcon with no food.....you aren't gonna die! Fasting for 6 hours will not kill you.





I dumped at the gybe mark in strong winds when I looked up at a Porter Q400 on finals. Can't stop spotting.
 
captaingomes
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RE: United To Begin Selling Food On Planes

Wed Apr 23, 2003 6:34 am



I think it's the right approach. If you eat, you pay for it. If you don't eat, you don't pay for food. Business travellers can claim on-board food expense with their company travel expenses. Vacationers who are lower yield can complain but they are less relevant to airline profitability.


As I outlined above, I fear that taking away the food altogether might have more of a negative effect on revenue than just selling it on board. It is that perception that passengers aren't getting anything for generally higher fares compared to LCC's.

I would like to see a full service airline continue to offer a minimum of on-board catering, but have additional items for purchase. That way everybody has a minimum of food to keep their system's happy for the duration of a flight, and if they want more, then they can purchase more. I think it would do well, especially with well thought out sandwiches or even pasta salads. These would be items that would not necessarily be thrown out after and might be good for a few days if kept in a sealed package.
"it's kind of like an Airbus, it's an engineering marvel, but there's no sense of passion" -- J. Clarkson re: Coxster
 
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OzarkD9S
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RE: United To Begin Selling Food On Planes

Wed Apr 23, 2003 9:01 am

Crap from a cart! Yeah buddy if I can save a few hundred dollars and get a scuzzy sandwich for a few extra bucks, why not? I admit I eat fast food and most of that junk is worse than anything I've gotten on an airline.
Next up: STL-OAK-RNO-LAS-ICT-STL
 
alexchao
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RE: United To Begin Selling Food On Planes

Wed Apr 23, 2003 9:07 am

I kind of like getting a meal inflight, even if its 2 hours (like Taipei - Hong Kong). Its part of the whole flying experience for me.

Hahahahaha.

-alexchao
 
desertjets
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RE: United To Begin Selling Food On Planes

Wed Apr 23, 2003 9:15 am

Both America West and USAirways have experimented with buy onboard programs in the past few months. I generally think the product is pretty good, generally better than what most carriers have been offering foodwise in the past few years. I would be interested to see if any of the carriers would actually implement it system wide and permanently.
Stop drop and roll will not save you in hell. --- seen on a church marque in rural Virginia
 
speedport
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RE: United To Begin Selling Food On Planes

Wed Apr 23, 2003 10:06 am

Captaingnomes makes a good point.

Even if they do not offer a base meal for free with the option of purchasing additional food, they should offer different meals at different price points.

Perhaps a base meal for 5 dollars and a broader meal for 10 dollars. Some will not be hungry enough to pay 10 dollars for a meal or they may not want to pay more for what they can get at McDonalds in the airport. These people should be given a choice. Others will be willing to pay more but the higher price needs to be justified.

However, I do not think offering a lot of variety would be a good thing. It would be too labor intensive inflight.

The concept has great potential. As usual, the airlines will probably stumble around until someone shows them how to do it right. Then they will all end up doing the same thing. I wonder what affect this will have on peanut airlines like Southwest and Jetblue?

 
ConcordeBoy
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RE: United To Begin Selling Food On Planes

Wed Apr 23, 2003 10:37 am

And yes, I'd order. I have always enjoyed eating at altitude as I gaze down at the geography

I can really feel ya on this one. For whatever reason, I absolutely adore the experience of eating while gazing down from an airliner. Dont know why, but it's an experience I really enjoy... even if eating less-than-quality cuisine.
Faire du ciel le plus bel endroit de la terre c'est impossible sans Concorde!
 
Continental
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RE: United To Begin Selling Food On Planes

Wed Apr 23, 2003 11:26 am

Agreed, it is the whole part of the experience. Even though it's not good food, I enjoy eating food inflight even if it's from the airline!

co
 
ctbarnes
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RE: United To Begin Selling Food On Planes

Wed Apr 23, 2003 1:51 pm

First the airlines give you the food for free. Then they take it away. Then they give you the food and charge you for it. Then they up the price. Then they take it away again.

Airline customers will tolerate a lot of things, but they will not tolerate surprise. It really does feel like "the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away." That is what I think cheezes people off. And the attitude displayed by some that by providing decient service they are doing you a favor does not help matters.

As a sideline airline food is not so bad. But then I have spent much of my career eating hospital food, so my standards are not that high Big grin

Seriously though, If I want peanuts I'll buy a ticket on Southwest. If I buy a ticket on United I expect to be fed. For free. Is that really asking so much?

Charles, SJ
The customer isn't a moron, she is your wife -David Ogilvy
 
Guest

RE: United To Begin Selling Food On Planes

Wed Apr 23, 2003 2:08 pm

Funny... when I was flying home form Cville a month ago I was on my way to my connecting flight (leaving about 2 hours later) and passed a gate with a flight leaving to SFO in ~15 minutes (this is at IAD); I asked if I could switch, and they said that, though I had no checked baggage, they couldn't because they didn't have enough meals on board... I didn't make a fuss, cause I didn't expect to get on anyway.

Sometimes NOT making a fuss can do you well, as the gate agent called in an extra meal, and 10 minutes later I was stretched across 16DEF on an United A320, headed home... Good thing too, I was starving and that meal (and about 6 of the little snack bags) hit the spot.

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