United Airlines Now Allows Passengers To Pre-Order Food And Drinks

United Airlines passengers on selected domestic flights can now order meals, snacks and beverages up to five days before they’re scheduled to travel using United’s app. The airline says it is the first United States-based carrier to facilitate this technology.

United Airlines today began allowing passengers to pre-order food and drinks on selected domestic flights. Photo: Vincenzo Pace/Simple Flying

“Our new pre-order option reflects the customer experience transformation taking place at United. Passengers in our economy cabins will have an easy, convenient way to choose their snack or drink, and our flight attendants can move through the cabin faster, delivering more personalized service,” said Toby Enqvist, chief customer officer for United.

Right now, the pre-order option is only available on selected flights departing from Chicago (ORD) to Orange County (SNA),  Sacramento (SMF), and San Diego (SAN). But United Airlines plans to roll out the option to all flights over 1,500 miles within a couple of months.

Passenger payment information can be stored on United’s app

United’s contactless payment platform allows passengers to store payment information in a digital wallet. Five days before departure, passengers will see an option in the reservation details section of the United app or on United’s website to pre-order food and drinks available for their specific flight.

In economy cabins, customers can pre-order snacks and drinks from United’s buy-on-board menu. They will be asked to enter their credit card information but will not be charged until the items are served to them onboard.

Up the front of the plane, premium cabin customers can select their meal option directly from the United app or website. Once they make their selection, they will get a receipt emailed to them.

United passengers on selected flights can preorder food up to five days in advance. Photo: United Airlines

United is flexible enough to recognize not everyone can gauge their future hunger levels five days out. Passengers can continue to buy snacks and drinks onboard and pay using the card details stored in the digital wallet. After ordering, the flight attendant bringing the order will ask for the customer’s name and seat to confirm the card on file.

“This new feature also builds on our existing contactless payment technology, which has enabled us to safely resume our inflight food and beverage program on select flights,” says Mr Enqvist.

Stay informed: Sign up for our daily and weekly aviation news digests.

New digital ordering offering coincides with inflight catering upgrade

The new digital ordering feature at United coincides with an onboard catering upgrade across United’s United States domestic flights. A recently refreshed buy onboard menu saw new drink offerings and snack boxes added to the trolleys.

United’s economy class passengers can now work their way through new snack boxes, including a tapas snack box and two other themed boxes.

New inflight catering options for premium cabin domestic passengers on flights over 1,500 miles and hub-to-hub flights over 800 miles include grilled chicken breast with orzo and lemon basil pesto and egg scramble with plant-based chorizo.

United Airlines recently improved its inflight domestic catering offering. Photo: United Airlines

According to United Airlines, the improved catering and ability to pre-order food and drinks is part of a broader program to transform the customer experience.

“As we continue to lead and innovate the airline industry, our new aircraft will give you more of what you want onboard, including state-of-the-art inflight entertainment, more premium cabin seats and a better, more comfortable experience no matter where you’re flying from,” says United Airlines.