United will offer passengers flying in Economy Plus a free alcoholic drink during the first beverage service August 6-16. While UA has not explained why it has chosen to do this, I would guess it has something to do with UA’s aggressive new push to sell Economy Plus upgrades under the Travel Options by United℠ program.
If UA really wanted to compete with world class carries like SQ, LH, and LX they would offer alcohol for free, but I think this move is a step in the right direction and hope UA will expand this program beyond the 10 day period. Not only does it award elites, but it gives travelers another incentive to upgrade to Economy Plus. And for the lucky passengers who are seated in Economy Plus at the gate because regular economy is full, this extra touch of service *may* prompt more than a few passengers to come back to UA.
While Economy Plus cannot be properly classified as a true "Premium Economy" product, UA is laying the groundwork for a future premium class that will merge business and economy into a comfortable and affordable product. I think tri-cabin first class is on its way out (slowly over the next decade) and a truly differentiated premium economy product may allow United to hold on to three-cabin service.