In Flight: Breakfast and lunch with United short-haul

My mileage run to Hawaii a couple weeks ago included 16 segments over five days and roughly 23,000 miles flown. It also included two nights on airplanes and a number of flights that had meal service. I showed some of the food from the longest segment – Newark to Honolulu – here but there were a few other United Airlines meals that offered up interesting dining options.


Three of my flights were during a traditional breakfast time. I had Phoenix to Houston, Dulles to Houston and San Francisco to Chicago and the choices on each were a bit different. I usually take the safe option at breakfast, opting for the cereal. I eat it dry which always seems to confuse the flight attendants but between that, the yogurt and the fruit I’m usually reasonably full for a few hours. On the Phoenix to Houston flight the cereal was served in a rather interesting way:


Tasted just fine and it was actually probably easier to eat this way, but I was still rather entertained with the service approach.

Meal number two, Dulles to Houston, was actually probably my favorite of the three. The offering was an egg sandwich. It was surprisingly similar to an Egg McMuffin. I’m not saying that it was delicious – airplane food rarely is – but it was definitely a different option from the usual I’ve had over the past few years.


The third meal is what I consider the traditional alternative to the cereal breakfast. I tend to avoid it but I figured I’d give it a try once just to make sure I still don’t really like it. Eggs, meat and potatoes seems like a great breakfast, I know, but the flavors just don’t work for me on this one. It was fine, I suppose, but not something I’ll likely be ordering again.



Two of the flights – Houston to Pittsburgh and Houston to Phoenix – were at lunch time. Apparently one of them was actually only at snack time, not lunch time, so the meal was the cold chicken breast salad plate, but an actual salad, not the pasta. The flight attendant made sure to ask everyone if they wanted the chicken or not so that it could be served vegetarian; that was a nice touch. I had the chicken and it was decent. Consistent with the other times I’ve had the same plate and reasonably good.


The other flight offered a hot lunch. I ended up with the "chicken parmesan roll" or something like that. It was, umm, interesting. It definitely had some flavors like chicken, tomato sauce and  cheese. That said, I wouldn’t recommend ordering it if there is another option. Not particularly impressive.


These were all short-haul flights so I’m never expecting fine dining. And some of them didn’t completely suck. Sadly that seems to be the standard by which in-flight domestic dining is measured these days.


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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


  1. Hey, I eat my cereal dry too! I once sent my tray back and asked for a new one because the flight attendant had dumped the milk on my cereal.

    They should have opened the cereal and poured it in the bowl before serving your tray. You had a lazy flight attendant on that one.

  2. @Brian, I think the Chicken Burrito was better than the carbo bomb hot pocket.

    Simply put, the old great mid con meals were moved over to the 5+ hours flights, where they used to serve an even better meal with 3+ choices.

    Like I have said before, get rid of the cookies and the nuts in a ramekin and give me the old CO meals. I don’t know if anyone noticed, but the nuts I have had in the last few months were stale 🙁

  3. @Golfingboy I agree. Overall there’s less variety and choice and a lot of former lunch and dinner flights are now snack flights, and a lot of former snack plate flights are now drinks and packaged snacks.

    1. The downgrades on the meals are pretty unfortunate. My biggest complaint is actually the snack basket as there is nothing in there I find at all appetizing. I’ve also stopped eating the nuts prior to the meal because they’re so ridiculously salty.

      As for the cereal thing, I know it is supposed to be poured out into the bowl. Not a huge deal, but I did find it entertaining.

  4. The “traditional” breakfast always tasted better to me when I remembered to pick up a few packets of ketchup from the food court beforehand. I agree that the breakfast sandwich is a nice change, although I miss the potatoes. Last weekend on DEN-SFO they had the sandwich, but its meat component was a sausage patty. Curiously, the FA still presented the options as “eggs or cereal”, so the sandwich was a bit of a surprise, particularly for those people who did not want the sausage or carb portion and had to deconstruct it.

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