What is United Airlines First and Business Class Food and Menu Like?
A Pictorial Guide
I had always wondered how 'the other half' ate. Then I got the chance to sample some of their fare on a recent United Business Class flight to Germany. I'll share my findings below.
Snacks & Drinks
They're great! Obviously we had our pick of drinks- beer, wine,
champagne, juices, coffee, etc... I'm just a water drinker myself, but I
even enjoyed that experience more, as I was given a real
glass from which to drink. Imagine that, kids!
The snacks were also wonderful. We were served mixed nuts in ceramic Japanese sake cups, which were heated. The heat is, of course, a total afterthought, but warm nuts seemed utterly posh in this environment. Yum!
Yeah- a menu! That's kind of nice- a whole lot nicer than being asked if
you prefer chicken or beef and being told, in the end, that you had
better like chicken because there's no more beef left. Instead of the
upfront choice question, we were given this lovely menu (printed on
luxuriously heavy cardstock) and asked what we would like for a starter
and what our first two choices would be for the main course.
The menu was in both English and German (we were on a flight to Frankfurt), and I noticed that there was one vegetarian alternative in each course, which made my order for special vegetarian meals completely superfluous.
The Main Meal
The main meal was quite the affair. Before the food was served, our special tables were folded out and adorned with crisp, white table cloths. We were given warm moist towels to cleanse our towels (and faces, and necks... whatever) as well as additional napkins to deal with any/all spills and crumbs.
For a starter, we were given Genoa salami prosciutto, and vegetable
crudite with sun-dried tomato dressing with fresh seasonal greens (and
our choice of dressing- Classic Caesar or Asian Sesame Ginger
Because I ordered special vegetarian food, I was given mixed greens with dressing on the side, a roll, and a cheese plate with fruit (which, I discovered, also serves as a dessert option).
The Main Course
For the main course, we were given the choice of:
1. Grilled chicken breast with eggplant strewn quinoa with arugula pesto
2. Braised beef with peppercorn sauce paired with potatoes au gratin and sauteed spinach
3. Spinach lasagna rolls with rosetta sauce and Parmesan cheese
My travel companion ordered the braised beef and said it was OK, but brilliant by airplane standards. I was given a special vegetarian meal (probably the same thing that the other vegetarians on the plane were served- yes, the economy class vegetarians), but had the benefit of a real plate and silverware, and to be honest, this vegetarian meal (which was some sort of couscous with chickpea curry-ish stuff and some sort of eggplant dish) was pretty good, though the servers could have done a slightly better job at making it look as though they had not dumped the food straight onto my plate from tin containers.
Dessert was lovely- we had a choice of either the "International Cheese
Selection" (which I, as a non-meat-eater, had been served as a starter)
consisting of 4 year aged cheddar, St. Rocco Triple Creme or the
"Specialty Dessert," which on this flight happened to be Tiramisu.
I enjoyed the Tiramisu thoroughly.
The 'Light Snack' Prior to Arrival
Before landing, we were given the choice of a continental breakfast
"Featuring a fruit appetizer, yogurt, breakfast bread and fruit
preserves" or, "For the heartier appetite," a cheese frittata with
My travel companion ordered the continental breakfast, which was lovely, and I was served some sort of horrid vegetarian concoction- like over-sweet grits/oatmeal with fruit in it- which I promptly ignored, but appreciated marginally more as, again, it was served on a real plate.
Food in Business Class isn't great, but it's a huge step up from what you get in Economy. The biggest upgrade is not in food quality, but rather in presentation. Being served in a civilized manner with real plates, glasses, and utensils can make a huge difference when one is struggling not to feel like chattel.
A special note to vegetarians: If you ARE flying first class, there's no need to request a special meal. The first class menu has a vegetarian option for each course, and that'll be better than the special meal you request, which would be the same for all classes on the flight.
Happy Flying and Munching!