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United Airlines Is Going To Start Serving Free Hot Food To Economy Passengers (But There’s a Small Catch)

There’s always a small catch, isn’t there?

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BY Chris Matyszczyk - 04 Jun 2017
Exploring Historic London Post Brexit Vote
Just imagine how much more edifying flying with United will be.

 

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.

 

Roasted chicken with smoked barbecue sauce.

Butternut squash tortellini with sage cream sauce.

Free drinks.

There, now I have your attention and have also revealed some of the hot new meals -- or, rather, new, hot meals -- that United Airlines is about to serve in Economy.

For free. Without charge. Gratis.

I can feel your excitement that, after so long seeming to suck (and drag) things out of the flying experience, United is trying to put something back in.

And now for the slightly less appetizing parts. (This is United. You can't expect unvarnished good news.)

The hot meals (and cold ones, depending on the time of day) will only be served on the Newark to Los Angeles, Newark to San Francisco, and Boston to San Francisco routes.

These might be defined as "routes where United actually has competition."

You'll remember, perhaps, that Delta has already announced it will be serving food -- albeit cold food -- on similar routes.

I can feel your extremities twitching and your epiglottis vibrating at the idea that United has gone one better. For once.

I must, sadly, disabuse you without dragging it out.

While Delta is giving food to all Economy passengers, United is only doing it for Economy Plus passengers. Yes, the ones who've been tickled into paying a little more for a few millimeters of extra legroom.

Hark the beautifully crafted words of United's vice-president of marketing Mark Krollick: "Customers traveling in Economy Plus will receive the industry's best economy cabin dining experience."

He added: "Customers in Economy should be ashamed of themselves for not paying a little more in order to avoid deep vain thrombosis and get a decent bowl of pasta."

Ah, no. That last quote was merely from my imagination.

Of course, this is all nibbling at the margins.

United will see what effect offering free hot food will have on bookings. If it doesn't work, it will yank the benefit just as dexterously as it yanks more dollars from your life savings with its nickel-and-diming.

I confess that I'm quite often perched in Economy Plus. I live in the hope that being there will assist me in survival. The mere thought that it might come with some roasted chicken is entirely tantalizing.

Then again, what if the roasted chicken tastes like soggy duck? What if I complain to the Flight Attendant?

Will they cook me a new one? Or will they have me arrested when we arrive?

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