In a move that appears to have fired up many of the airline's frequent fliers, United will "become the first U.S. carrier to stop serving free meals in the coach cabin of some overseas flights," Bloomberg News writes. Now, starting Oct. 1, coach-class passengers flying on United flights between Washington Dulles and Europe will be offered only buy-on-board meal options.
Bloomberg says "the change expands the list of formerly complimentary services airlines are charging for as they combat a 52% jump in the price of jet fuel during the past year."
And United is making other changes. The San Francisco Chronicle writes "the airline is also dropping complimentary meals in domestic business class, effective Oct. 1, except for premium transcontinental flights (p.s. service) from San Francisco and Los Angeles to New York. And it's expanding the BOB, or buy-on-board, food offerings. Oh, and the BOB prices are going up, also Oct. 1," the paper writes. Aside from potential revenue generated from the buy-on-board options, the move could also allow the carrier to reduce its costs for meal service. In addition to the actual meal cuts, the Left Field blog at flightglobal.com notes United also will reduce "flight attendant staffing to FAA minimums" as it trims that service.
Henry Harteveldt, airline industry analyst at Forrester Research tells the Chronicle that he thinks United's changes "are flat-out stupid." Harteveldt thinks any savings United gets from cutting business-class meals will be more than offset "when corporations yank business. The challenging thing about business is that whether things are good or bad, you have to invest in your product for the sake of keeping customers and to make it harder for competitors to catch up with you. This does nothing to encourage people to pay more because you give more. They really make me question whether the inmates have taken control of the asylum," he tells the Chronicle.
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