On my way home from California, I had the chance to sample the lunch fare on a United Premium Service BusinessFirst flight from San Francisco to Newark. I had previously flown in BusinessFirst on several morning (breakfast) and evening (dinner/snack) flights between Newark and Los Angeles/San Francisco. However, this was my first opportunity to taste something from the redesigned lunch menus offered by in the premium cabin of United’s signature transcontinental route.
Thus, I was especially excited to fly up front that afternoon.
There is currently a lot of construction going on in Terminals 7 and 8 of LAX where United rents out most of its gates at the giant Los Angeles airport. Current estimates put the completion of the remodeled interior several years away so any traveler traversing through those terminals should be aware that there is a lot of construction noise and extended walk times to transit from one terminal to another. However, boarding was still efficient and I did not have any trouble getting settled into my seat.
Departure and takeoff was smooth and we were up in the air and at cruising altitude relatively quickly. The entree options for the day were lamb with gnocchi, chicken breast with sauerkraut and wild rice and a vegetarian ravioli. I decided to be adventurous and chose the lamb. I figured that this would be a great way to test out United’s new menu designs while also branching out beyond my usual dining choices of steak and chicken (regardless of whether I am on an airplane or not).
To start, we were served warm nuts with the drink of our choice. I normally go with a Bloody Mary or whiskey sour but I wanted to get some work done while watching a movie after lunch. Thus, I ordered some cranberry apple juice instead. Service was fast and efficient, and I soon had a starter plate filled with breads, a salad, and a warmed shrimp with pineapple appetizer sitting in front of me. I love how much the salads and appetizers have improved on United flights since Oscar Munoz took over as CEO of the airline. Portions are larger, fresh ingredients are used, and the appetizer is often warm.
After I had finished the salad, my lamb arrived. At first, I was worried because the piece of meat seemed rather hidden under the sauce. However, the portion turned out to be quite generous. The meat itself was soft and moist and the sweet, rich sauce paired well with the dark meat. Nothing was overcooked and the gnocchi was only just slightly firm (in the way good pasta should be). My seatmate allowed me to photograph his chicken entree, which also looked quite delicious.
Of course, the signature ending to a fine meal on flights like these is the ice cream sundae dessert that United offers to its BusinessFirst passengers. With a choice of toppings and a full cup of ice cream before me, I settled on warm fudge and whipped cream as my weapons of choice the finish the meal. I also ordered coffee, which too has improved greatly since United changed to serving Illy on all its flight and in the United Club.
After all the food had been thoroughly consumed, the flight attendants cleared my tray table and I settled in to get a few hours of work done before we landed. Work on an airplane always feels better when you have lots of space at your seat and you were just fed a good meal (although I suppose that is always the case, whether you are on the ground or in the air).
Before I knew it, we were descending into the New York area and it was time for me to pack up my stuff for landing. Completely stuffed with good food and tired from the long travel day, I felt happy that I was able to finally review a Premium Service lunch flight from the BusinessFirst cabin. Of course, I had a long line of work meetings ahead of me the following day and I was still a train ride away from my home. But things were good.
Things were good.
Overall, I was impressed by the new lunch menu and hope things continue to improve for United. Oscar Munoz seems to be turning the airline into something much better than what it was when he first took over, and that should give us all hope for the future. Let the leadership in Chicago take one step at a time. At least that means they are moving forward.
Another experience checked off the list. So many more floating on the horizon.