United Airlines has been looking for ways to woo back some of its top fliers who defected to other carriers following a rocky merger with Continental Airlines. So, it's upgrading first-class food options and replacing snacks with full meals on some of its shortest flights. The changes, announced Thursday, mean that instead of potato chips, chocolate chip cookies and bananas, passengers on flights of at least 800 miles will get meals such as chicken and mozzarella on a tomato focaccia roll and turkey and Swiss cheese on a cranberry baguette.
A hot meal on a two-hour flight might not sound like a necessity, but for busy frequent fliers it might be the only chance to grab a bite. "Business travelers, running from a meeting to catch an earlier flight, don't have the time stop and pick up food along the way," says Gary Leff, co-founder of online frequent flier discussion site MilePoint. The move comes as American Airlines goes the other way, eliminating hot meals on most flights less than 1,000 miles starting Sept. 1.