United spokesperson Rahsaan Johnson just shared with me a new policy, in effect starting today: 1K and Global Services members receive both a complimentary beverage and complimentary food item when seated in economy.
Beginning today, January 20, 2016, we will be offering Premier 1K and Global Services members 1 complimentary beverage and 1 complimentary Choice Menu food item when seated in United Economy for all UA/UAX flights within North America (all 50-state U.S. flights, Canada, Caribbean, Mexico and Central America).
As many of you noted back in October 2015, we began offering 1 complimentary drink to our Global Services and Premier 1K members seated in Economy, and this is an expansion of that program to recognize and show appreciation for your business. We are communicating these changes to our internal teams now and an email communication with more details will also be sent to eligible members in the coming days. Before ordering let your flight attendant know that you are a Global Services or Premier 1K member and show your digital MileagePlus membership card, Premier membership card, or boarding pass.
American has offered this benefit to its Executive Platinum members for years. And Delta now includes snacks and beverages bundled into its extra legroom ‘Comfort+’
cabin seats which top elites sitting in coach will almost always have access to. So in some ways United is coming in behind their two large rivals. But it’s a real improvement for frequent travelers.
The snack and drink benefit, I can say as a top tier elite with American, is something that really improves the coach experience. It takes it from mass transportation (‘cattle car’) and helps to personalize it, because even when you don’t get upgraded there’s still a benefit to your status and individual recognition. Together with a complimentary extra legroom seat, flying coach as a top elite really isn’t bad.
United has unveiled a new domestic first class seat and rumor is that we’ll see a new international business seat soon. They’re adding free snacks back to coach and switching to illy coffee (better coffee is a move, I’ve suggested, which doesn’t just benefit frequent flyers but also benefits an airline’s bottom line).
While I wouldn’t call United ‘industry-leading’ as a result of adding a complimentary beverage and snack in coach for top elites (whom you hope aren’t sitting in coach too often), they’ve made a number of moves to improve their inflight product in a meaningful way in the past several months and deserve credit for that.