United Airlines Is Still Not Offering Special Meals. Blaming COVID Is Silly

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United Airlines Is Still Not Offering Special Meals. Blaming COVID Is Silly

United Airlines Is Still Not Offering Special Meals. Blaming COVID Is Silly

United Airlines is still not offering special meals to its passengers. Their reasoning is ridiculous. When the pandemic broke out, meal service all but stopped on all airlines. Now that travel is normalizing, United Airlines says it can’t offer special meals. Their reasoning is a joke.

What Other Airlines Are Doing

During the start of the pandemic, many airlines eliminated meals. Then, they went to pre-packaged meals in a box. A good example of this is Turkish Airlines. They have updated their in-flight service to say that meals are back on international flights only. Turkish hasn’t added back all of their special meal options, but they are offering the 5 meals requested most often.

American Airlines and Delta Air Lines are offering the full spectrum of their meal options. The logic is simple: if you’re having meals, there’s no extra “COVID risk” between meal type A and meal type B.

United Airlines

So what’s the deal with United?

They are only offering the Kosher meal and only on limited routes. You cannot request any of their other special meals on any routes.

The kosher meal is only available on these routes:

  • Flights between the U.S. and Tel Aviv
  • Between New York/Newark and London Heathrow (starting July 1, 2021)
  • Between San Francisco and Sydney (starting August 1, 2021)

Their reasoning: “limit potential exposure to COVID-19 on board”.

It’s ridiculous. You can’t tell me with a straight face that making a special meal for someone’s religion or allergies increases the risk of COVID. Either you have meals or you don’t. And this logic means they have to claim that vegetarian meals and Hindu meals increase COVID risks while Kosher meals don’t. And apparently Kosher meals don’t increase COVID risks on those particular routes, just on others.

I’m not buying it.

Final Thoughts

I find United Airlines’ explanation about their special meals here to be anything but logical. My wife and I have flown United twice in the past year. On the first flight, the purser was friendly and even said that the policy was stupid. On the 2nd flight, the staff was again friendly and apologetic, despite this being beyond their control. They tried to round up something for us to eat, since the company HQ wasn’t helpful.

If you are like us and need special meals for flights, I recommend avoiding United Airlines until they fix this. Paying for meals that you won’t be eating is dumb, and so is United’s reasoning. Blaming COVID for this nonsense in United Airlines’ catering is a disservice to everyone.

Ryan S
Travel hacker in 2-player mode, intent on visiting every country in the world, and can say "hello" or "how much does this cost?" in a bunch of different languages.

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  1. It would make more sense if they made everyone eat a vegan meal- better for you and the planet too. It could even be made kosher and hindu friendly.

  2. Thank you for posting this. Being vegans, with no main meals my wife and I are left to fend for ourselves on long international flights. The reasoning for no special meals is totally stupid!

    • Wait until I tell you that I flew Finnair yesterday, and they not only had special meals but actually made vegan cupcakes for me for dessert. United is ridiculous.

  3. I’ll never understand the entitlement of the “special meals” on flights. I agree the reasoning is questionable (covid). However where is personal responsibility for an individuals special diet and needs? Who buys a ticket for the food?

    • It sounds like you’re blaming customers who expect airlines to honor their “everyone gets a meal” policies. That’s an odd approach. Did I miss something here? I’m confused.

  4. Truly incompetent on United’s part. My parents are vegetarian and flew sfo-del last week. Thankfully a good portion of the meals loaded were vegetarian and they were able to eat something on the plane. But with uncertainty, they ended up packing their own food too.

    • VJ – we got lucky that they had a vegetable curry option in economy on one of our flights, so they brought us that and put it on the nice plate in business class. The other time, nothing. For both, we packed food to bring on board. As you said, it doesn’t make sense and requires passengers to bring their own food, which shouldn’t be necessary.

  5. Wow thank you for writing this and the heads up! I had no idea United is not offering special meals right now and the reason is ridiculous!!!

  6. Passengers would have been so much better off if incumbent airlines were allowed to fail and their assets reorganized rather than being bailed out as entitled entities that know they can’t fail.


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