United Testing New Pre-Order Service for First-Class Meals

United Airlines first-class meal

With American and Delta, you can confirm your in-flight entree before departure, based on the menu planned for your flight—a convenience for passengers, also helps airlines better allocate how many of each entree to load on flights. Now United is trying to keep up with the Joneses. United Airlines has begun testing a service that would allow domestic first-class passengers to select their meal five days before departure and up to 24 hours before their flight.

United emphasized that the pre-ordered entree options are the same as those that would normally be served in the first-class cabin—no specially-prepared dishes will be part of the test.

The test began on July 31 on select flights from the Chicago-based carrier’s hubs at Dulles International Airport outside Washington, D.C. and at Los Angeles International Airport.

Most of the flights where the new service option is being tested are bound for other United hubs, including Denver and Houston. United is positioning the test as a sign of the carrier’s growing “commitment to customers” as it re-evaluates every aspect of its operations.

During the test phase, select customers will receive an email directing them to a meal reservation page at united.com to make their meal selection. If passengers opt not to pre-select, they will have to work with what is available in the galley when they board the plane. The same goes for passengers who may be upgraded to first class just prior to departure.

United said it will follow up with customers selected for the test, evaluate their feedback, make adjustments, and then decide whether to go with a full rollout. But given that American Airlines and Delta Air Lines are already offering this pre-order service, the likelihood is great that United will find a way to make it work.