Vintage Airline Menu: United Airlines Business Class – Paris to Chicago 1991

In 1991 I flew from Chicago to Paris to spend a couple of weeks with the family of an exchange student I befriended in high school. It was my first international trip (besides Canada) and I was so excited to finally leave North America. On the day of departure I got a phone call advising that my flight was cancelled and was rebooked on a Chicago to New York JFK flight on United Airlines, connecting to a Pan Am flight to Paris.

Being a Premier at the time and wanting to ensure I remained on United to accrue the elite qualifying miles, I asked instead to be rebooked via Washington Dulles where United also had a flight to Paris. Why they didn’t do that in the first place is beyond me, but I successfully got an all United itinerary. In retrospect, I wish I would have flown Pan Am.

Checking in for the flight back home to Chicago the agent in Paris asked, “Do you prefer an aisle or a window seat?” Confused as I already had pre-assigned a seat I replied, “I thought I already had seat xx booked?” She responded, “I’m upgrading you.” Why that happened I have no idea and I didn’t ask, but it was likely due to an oversold flight. I’m not so sure that would happen with Premiers today.

Not knowing that I could visit the lounge before departure as a Business Class passenger, I just headed to the gate and awaited boarding. The crew was fantastic and I do remember the movie being “L.A. Story” with Steve Martin and the then fairly unknown Sarah Jessica Parker.

Business Class in 1991 is nothing like what is today in terms of seat comfort, but service back then was stellar. It was a fantastic flight. Arriving international flights at O’Hare parked at remote stands in those days and passengers were bussed to immigration & customs, which was in the basement of the parking garage. My how times have changed.

Anyway, here was my menu. I know I had the beef tenderloin for lunch, but cannot recall what I selected for the pre-arrival snack. Only two options for entrees would probably be frowned upon today.

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