United Upgrades Food

United upgrades food at clubs and brings back free wine and beer on international economy flights

United upgrades food at clubs and offers free drinks on int'l flights

Sampling of new food offerings at United Club
Samplings of new food offerings at United Clubs at  Bush Intercontinental Airport. Photo by Clifford Pugh
Passengers at United Club try the new food
Passengers at the United Club load up on the new healthier offerings. Photo by Clifford Pugh
United Club food selections hummus and peppers
Among the new food selections at the United Clubs is hummus and peppers. Photo courtesy of United Airlines
Greek yogurt and fruit among the new food offerings at United Club
Among new morning food selections at United Club is Greek yogurt and fresh fruit. Photo courtesy of United Airlines
Sampling of new food offerings at United Club
Passengers at United Club try the new food
United Club food selections hummus and peppers
Greek yogurt and fruit among the new food offerings at United Club

No more carrots in tiny plastic bags.

That's one of the first things that travelers who frequent United Club locations in Houston and Chicago will notice about the new food offerings.

The airline announced in February that it planned to upgrade the complimentary snacks at its members-only airport lounges. Gone are such munchies as cheese in plastic wrappers, cold cereal and trail mix in big cannisters. The new menu, which debuted in Chicago last month and Houston this week, is laid out like a buffet with choices that are decidedly healthier.

 The new menu, which debuted in Chicago last month and Houston this week, is laid out like a buffet with choices that are decidedly healthier. 

On a recent weekend getaway, we stopped into the club in Terminal E to check out the breakfast offerings, which include a Greek yogurt bar with strawberries and blueberries as toppings, a hot oatmeal station, and scones and bagel sticks with creme cheese and a variety of jams.

There's also a coffee machine that prepares a tasty cappuccino, espresso or latte with steamed milk. (Just remember to press the "medium" button if you put a cup under the spout; I accidentally pressed "large" with a small cup, and the result was overwhelming.)

When we stopped into a club in Terminal C after a return flight to Houston, offerings included hot vegetable soup, hummus with pita chips and fresh sliced red bell peppers for dipping, a fresh corn salad and, for dessert, Sheila G's Brownie Brittle. It was quite a contrast from the club in Cleveland, where our flight had originated, with continues to offer packaged cheese and crackers and the ubiquitous baby carrots in plastic bags.

The new items will be added to at United Clubs in Denver, Newark, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington Dulles by the end of summer and all United Clubs worldwide by the end of the year.

The airline also announced this week that beginning this spring, United Airlines economy customers on long-haul international flights will receive complimentary beer and wine, along with a three-course meal with bigger portions. Flights between the United States and Europe, most trans-Pacific flights as well as routes between the United States and Argentina, Brazil and Chile will be included.

It's not exactly like the good old days of air travel, but a welcome perk for those in the back of the plane.