Breakfast on a plane mostly sucks. Even in business class. There are a handful of exceptions but, for the most part, rubbery eggs or soggy pancakes/french toast/waffles and a small side of fruit salad mostly sucks as a meal. The craptacularness of that meal is compounded on flights between the US and Asia thanks to time zones and airline catering decisions.
With a 9-12 hour flight duration and similar time zone offset it is common to land on the other side of the world between mid-day and early evening, around the same time on the clock as departure. Somehow airlines seem to believe that’s a good time to serve breakfast.
For a body still processing in the origin time zone the decision makes some sense. It is probably closer to breakfast time than dinner at the point of departure. But for those who slept on the plane and are trying to adjust as quickly as possible to the destination time zone an omelet at 3:30pm just before landing generally doesn’t work so well.
There are a few airlines that at least make options available. Typically that’s in the form of a noodle dish of some sort that works pretty well as a lunch/dinner entrée. United Airlines does not offer that choice, however. Fortunately, thanks to the (relatively) new Polaris meal service, there’s a way to beat the system. Assuming you can get a flight attendant to cooperate.
On the longer flights United offers hot snacks mid-flight. My recent trips included sautéed shrimp over rice or grilled cheese and tomato soup as the choices. Either of these is, for me, a far better option for the pre-arrival meal than eggs or congee. Alas, they’re not typically offered as such. But that doesn’t make it impossible to get one.
This typically involves a friendly negotiation with the crew at some point after the main meal service is completed. I’ve had pretty good success in asking for one of the “snacks” to be put aside for the end of the flight and served instead of eggs. It is absolutely extra work for the crew – the snacks are heated separately from the rest of the breakfast meals and getting it on to the tray is also extra work for the crew.
But asking nicely and generally being a friendly person throughout the flight has worked out well for me so far.
More from this trip:
- Taking the COMAC ARJ21-700 for a ride
- Riding the Shanghai Maglev (and saving some cash, too!)
- Shanghai Soup Dumpling Throwdown: XLB v SJB!
- Beating the breakfast boondoggle in United’s Polaris
- Playing with Pandas: A day at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding
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