A rumor sprang up on Flyertalk this afternoon that hot food would be cut from the United Clubs in Chicago O’Hare and not expanded to additional airports. United informed me that no such decision has been made.
United’s lounge food has improved tremendously across the network. Fresh berries and oatmeal in the morning or hot soups and salads later in the day are a solid improvement over crackers, cheese, and crudités. At ORD, United went a step further, introducing hot dishes including eggs in the morning and lasagna in the afternoon and evenings.
The food was tasty, and understandably very popular. United planned to expand those hot offerings to other hubs and a permit had already been granted to do so at Newark.
But this afternoon a Flyertalk member reported that 1.) the hot food service in Chicago was just a trial ballon, 2.) demand greatly exceeded forecasts, and as a consequence 3.) hot food would not expand to additional clubs. The hot food is so popular in ORD that United’s hot food budget has allegedly been exceeded threefold.
I contacted United to see if it would confirm or deny this rumor and received the following response from spokesman Charlie Hobart—
Hi Matthew, you’re right; our customers love the new, refreshed United Club offerings. And while we always evaluate the offerings on a regular basis, we have not made any decisions to remove the hot food options.
Surely we could be pessimistic and say that United admits hot items are under evaluation, but at least United has stated on the record that it has made no decision to remove hot food options.
How United Should Handle Excessive Club Demand
For the sake of United’s commitment to be more “Flyer Friendly” and because consumers (this one included) love the new hot offerings, United should raise lounge membership prices or eliminate Chase guest passes before cutting back amenities. The Chase guest passes sell for as little as $10 on eBay. Surely a lasagna dinner with soup, salad, and red wine is worth more than that. Another, more immediate, option would simply be to get rid of big plates and use small plates only. Hopefully that would control portion size.
Hopefully United can work out a better solution that simply cutting hot food from its domestic lounges. The newly remodeled Chicago O’Hare lounge in the B Concourse is amazing and if United is serious about being best, it cannot claw back its positive enhancements.