Last week, the Chicago Tribune published an insightful article focused on a United-Continental merger related item not often reported in such detail – the consideration given to airline meals and galley equipment. Reporter Gregory Karp spent a day at the United Airlines test kitchen in suburban Chicago speaking with chefs, executives and other staff who make the decisions about what we as passengers eat and which items are best suited for onboard preparation and service.
Effective May 1, 2012, we as passengers will be experiencing the new menu, wine and service items under consideration in this article when we travel in First or Business class. According to John Yeng, United’s Director of Product Marketing, “We’re serious about this merger. Part of the reason we’re going through these details is that we want our customers to know that it’s not just merging things together. We’re paying attention.”
Fortunately, the article hints at the fact that chefs are “trying to emulate Continental’s food, which traditionally received high ratings, compared with United’s food, which usually scored poorly.” I tweeted a picture of my breakfast on United earlier this month noting how good it was for a change and one of my followers mentioned it’s Continental’s influence already being seen.
My recent domestic dinner flight also was a pleasant surprise with a salmon appetizer and a main dish including gnocchi.
Some decisions have already been finalized as to which way to go – the United way or the Continental way. Among them are:
- Continental’s slimmer, sleeker serving pot for coffee.
- Continental’s salt shakers vs. packets on United.
- United’s metal bowls for serving hot fudge and salad dressing.
- United’s longer, safer oven mitts.
- Continental’s cloth hot towels vs. United’s paper.
- United’s custom of serving warmed nuts in a ramekin.
The article goes deeper into the logistics and factors that determined the “winners” in each category, so I’d encourage you to read it to get a behind the scenes look into just how many decisions are made for what many travelers take for granted.