United Airlines has introduced a new service that allows travelers to purchase food, snacks, and beverages up to five days before their flight. United’s website and mobile app are both available for placing orders. United claims to be the “first and only” airline to offer this service to economy passengers.
Previously, only premium passengers on specific flights were able to preorder food and beverages. United is now making the choice available to all ticket holders. Only travelers flying from Chicago to Honolulu, Orange County, Sacramento, and San Diego will be able to preorder food and beverages at first. United said it would expand the choice to travelers on all flights over 1,500 miles by early September.
As part of its campaign to entice customers back inside its planes, United has been boosting amenities and reducing annoyance fees. Last year, the airline permanently ended its change charge policy, and its main competitors, Delta and American, immediately followed suit. For in-flight entertainment, United just added a Bluetooth option. With passenger demand remains below pre-pandemic levels, the airline industry as a whole is attempting to make flying appear secure, stress-free, and, most importantly, inexpensive.
The food and drink preorder option is being marketed by United as a method to improve service by allowing flight attendants to travel around the cabins more quickly and provide more customized treatment to passengers. United’s contactless payment method is used for preorders, which the airline maintains is safer for customers and flight attendants (although evidence suggests that COVID is rarely transmitted through surface contact).
Customers who do not wish to pre-order food and beverages may do so during the flight. However, United advises passengers to deposit their credit card into the app’s digital wallet to enable contactless payment on board.
United unveiled new food and drink menus for flights longer than two hours earlier this year, including alcoholic seltzer brand White Claw.