The new United meals: Promise versus Reality

I was reasonably excited when United Airlines announced the new meal choices coming for lunch and dinner late last year. Mostly because after a couple years of eating the same thing I was looking for a bit of variety. I was invited to a preview tasting back in August and certainly ate my fill. But this is the first week I’ve had the opportunity to try out one of the new meals in flight. So, what’s the verdict??


They don’t really look all that different to me. Didn’t taste much different, either. The roast beef was a bit more well done but still great flavor and the blue cheese (it is in there, I promise) was tangy. I even tried the onion soup which wasn’t too bad; there is a nice sweetness to it.

If I’m going to pick a complaint it is the pretzel roll served along side the meal. Not pretzel-y enough (if that’s really a thing). It was OK and soaked up the soup just fine, but not a great roll. Plus, as expected, no bread plate.

I’m not going to pretend that it was a gourmet meal served on fine china, but it was identical to the flavors I experienced during the taste test on the ground. Same portion size, too. And I liked it on the ground (read my review here) so no real surprise that I enjoyed it in the air, too.

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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. Are they planning on updating the PS and / or international Premium Cabin meals soon?

    PS has seen Delta and JetBlue blow away what United offers.

    1. When they finally get around to it. They noted that they were (finally) going to serve food on UX F, way back in August. Apparently this isn’t a priority because as of now, snack boxes that are significantly less in terms of quality and quantity than what you could buy in Y are being served on 4 hour flights.

      1. When they made the announcement about putting the meals in UAX F they also noted a timeline for it. And it is not actually going to happen for a couple months yet per the announcement.

  2. Finally, a change we’ll actually like. This looks to be a modest improvement – th food in premium cabins had gotten pretty awful (more than once sitting in United First I’ve asked for the buy-on-board meal from economy – other passengers seated in first saw this and did the same so clearly I’m not the only one who found the meals in First unappetizing).

  3. As a 1K dropping to Gold in a couple of weeks, I am unlikely going to see those meals much. And as a vegequarian I wouldn’t want it anyway. So I’ll continue to self-cater. 🙂

    1. One of the nice things about the salad is that the meat comes separate and is added by the crew. So if you want it without just tell them and you can get it that way.

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