Eating Healthy on the Run: United Airlines Elevates its Food Game

United_Airline_MealsExperienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins

A million miles flown affords you many supplementary amenities when traveling by air, especially when your brand of choice is United Airlines (UA). I am a member of the exclusive Global Services fellowship for example. My dedication and revenue commitment to their bottom line is honored in return through time-saving and convenience perks such as complimentary upgrades into First Class, reduced membership costs for programs like the United Club, early boarding, automatic backups for disrupted flights and much more. But one thing it previously didn’t achieve was a decent meal mile-high in the friendly skies.

As a business owner of three companies including Automotive Rhythms and Fit Fathers, time is precious. I travel the globe test-driving and evaluating the latest vehicles that come to market and educate car-buyers with my findings. Equally, I host Social Workouts, health conferences and events around the world. Flying over 225,000 base miles annually require a copious amount of time in the clouds, which translates to a profuse amount of meals whether breakfast, lunch or dinner. Typically I brown bag it with a few pieces of fruit, nuts and either a hummus sandwich on whole grain bread, brown rice and lentils or a black bean burrito. For years I’ve watched meals reminiscent of those in elementary school cafeterias served to elite businessmen and woman in First Class and packaged coach grub distributed to the larger group of flyers. If you were hungry and didn’t bring your own food then nutrition became very limited. Aged cheeseburgers in plastic bags, greasy sausage links, dry, enriched pastas, lettuce based salads (I need actual greens like kale and spinach) and blood sugar raising pastries were some of the typical staples. No thank you; no, I will not be eating today; thanks, however I brought along my own food, were typical responses to congenial flight attendants. They would always rave about me being one of the easiest Global Services members to please. Yet finally, United has made specific culinary moves appealing to health-conscious jetsetters like myself.

“Our customers tell us they want greater options and fresh, savory dining choices when they fly with us,” said Lynda Coffman, United’s vice president of food services. “With these latest enhancements, we will offer restaurant-quality cuisine that enriches their in-flight experience.” Thankfully Lynda and her team have met our demands after dozens of emails suggesting healthier food options. Especially since the world is in a crises as degenerative diseases continue to multiply and kill. Moreover, food is a decisive factor in many chronic illnesses including heart disease. So why eat a diet devoid of vitamins, minerals and nutrients? Why ingest elements (most meals chosen outside the home are not actually real food) that are detrimental to life enhancement? For these reasons I will never settle for anything less out of convenience. I would rather fast for the day or fuel up at an earth-friendly, café upon landing. Heard of Happy Cow? Every traveler should download this app!

United_Airline_Choice_Menu

Bam, on UA flight 316 traveling from Phoenix to Washington Dulles I was prepared to request a cup of hot water to mix my oatmeal when the flight attendant asked if I wanted the cereal, eggs or steel-cut oatmeal? I thought she was kidding and went on to explain that today’s flight was the first to offer the oats, which of course was music to my ears. The tray was served with fruit and yogurt for those that eat dairy (I do not). Of course I have some suggestions due partly to the fact that the breakfast was as dry as desert sand and could have used almond or soy milk, cinnamon, raisons, walnuts and bananas, all of which would have collectively provided a complete meal by meeting protein, Omega 3 and complex carbohydrate needs. However, UA has made a major move commended by both my Global Services wife and I. My next request will be a baked barbeque tofu sandwich topped with kale, tomatoes, onions and avocados. Hey, a frequent flyer can dream right?

United said they will continue their multi-million-dollar investment with the in-flight food service which includes:

  • Upgrade premium-cabin meal service on United Express flights, replacing snack boxes with freshly prepared food served on chinaware on flights of at least 800 miles – or as short as two hours and 20 minutes – and offering a selection of premium packaged snacks on flights less than 800 miles;
  • Significantly enhance United Economy meals and beverages on long-haul international flights, including adding multi-course meal service;
  • Refresh its Choice Menu Bistro on Board selection, which offers fresh food for sale in United Economy on most flights scheduled for more than three-and-a-half hours within North America, to Central and northern South America and between Honolulu and Guam; and
  • Launch new premium-cabin menu choices on its p.s. Premium Service between New York JFK and Los Angeles and New York JFK and San Francisco.

Every little step towards positive living counts. A job well done UA! For more information visit www.united.com.