My dalliance with United has been because (1) Newark is often convenient for me and (2) their miles are useful for my trips. Currently as a Platinum I have not been upgraded this year and flying them is grim, grim, grim.
A few scenes from a March paid business trip to Asia.
- United Club lounges in Newark so busy I would need to sit on the lap of others to get a seat.
- On Chicago-Beijing it turned out three of the main courses had shrimp and/or lobster, my only food allergy. I requested the flight attendant hold a steak for me in case gone by the time my order was taken. She lectured me that I should request special meals and that they aren’t allowed to hold meals. Maybe that would work at Ma’s Diner, not on the upper deck of a 747.
- On Saigon-Hong Kong, a 3:30 am departure primarily for passengers to make onward US connections, there was a blanket on the floor. I requested a pillow. “We don’t cater pillows on 737s.”
This is typical of my United flying. Doing it for convenience and miles, not the crusty seats and crustier service.
Yet I see news, the first I recall in some time, of United trying to improve in-flight. Specifically, new 3-course international economy meals with free beer and wine (Cranky Flier). The only thing I like about current United long-haul international economy is if you want to rest, they typically fling the meal at you and then you never see anyone again the rest of the flight, good compared to nonstop interruption airlines like Delta.
Last week I flew the JFK-LAX ps service in economy for business. I brought my wife, putting her in business on an award. We both came off the flight happily surprised that the crew was friendly and accommodating. She said one flight attendant happily played with children in nearby seats. In economy we frequently got water. I realize it is a flagship route of sorts, so not typical, yet that it exists on a United plane is cause for hope.
Do the new meals mark a turning point by United to reverse the post-merger decline?