United to charge for meals on international flights

Gradual reductions to in-flight meals have finally reached the international market. It used to be that everyone on the aircraft got a meal, wherever where you were going or in what class you were. That slowly devolved to meals in first class on some long-haul flights (exception: Continental, where all meals in domestic are still free!).

Now, spurned by cost cutting measures across the industry, United Airlines has announced that they’re discontinuing meal service on some of their international flights.

From Washington DC‘s Dulles airport, flights to Europe will now offer food for purchase instead of the standard “chicken or pasta” choices. Nine dollars will get you a salad or sandwich while six buys a snack box. I found no mention of warm food in this Bloomberg article.

To reiterate: they aren’t even charging you $9 for the soggy chicken that you used to get.

As to whether the changes will be unrolled to the rest of the international legs, the airline is still not sure. They’ll be taking input from passengers after this trial period to see how poorly it’s received.

And poorly received it will be. On a three or even four hour flight across the country I can see how someone can gorge up on food beforehand and make it through the itinerary. But on a nine hour flight you need to eat at some point. And unless you brought a sack lunch you’re going to be forced to pay whatever prices they’re charging. Yes, they only take cash.

Take this opportunity to send a note to UA protesting the changes. There’s still time to reverse the tide.

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