For this week’s Meal of the Week I look back on a unique (in terms of airline food, at least) lunch I had on United in December 2010.
United p.s. service, which ran between New York JFK and San Francisco/Los Angeles until October 2015 offered three meal choices in business class. Although two of the three choices rarely changed (some form of steak and some form of chicken) the third choice was often a wildcard. Sometimes it was cod cakes, sometimes lamb. For this flight, the third choice was beef chili in a sourdough bread bowl.
First, a step back. I went to law school in Philadelphia and used to treat myself to a flight on United p.s. at the end of every term. Back then, United’s routing rules made it easy to force in a connection in JFK. My routing for this trip was PHL-IAD-JFK-LAX-SAN. Of course Los Angeles is home and airlines generally do not crack down on those who take advantage of hidden city (“throw away”) ticketing but I flew all portions. By then I was closing in on MillionMiler status and did not want to put it at risk.
There’s a funny story in that.
December 2010 was right before my move to Frankfurt so I asked my brother to join me in Philadelphia to help me pack and move my books and furniture into storage. By then the price had gone up on the ticket I purchased (l recall paying only $140 one-way for all those flights…) so he just booked JFK-LAX on the same flight as me.
Being the good brother that I am, I bought him a Megabus ticket to New York for $1. The bus left at 5AM so we ended up leaving around the same time then meeting up in the Red Carpet Club at JFK.
I had put in for an upgrade for my brother, but it didn’t clear. He was not happy about a six hour flight in the back of the bus, but being a great brother I
gave him my seat sent back my ice cream sundae and later a hot chocolate chip cookie to him.
The Race to San Diego
Once we got to LA I instructed him to get in his car and drive down to San Diego to pick me up. I had a two hour layover at LAX, which gave him enough time to go home, get the car, and drive down to San Diego. He was waiting for me as I stepped off my flight and out of the old commuter terminal.
Being the great brother that I am, I treated him to a nice Italian dinner in San Diego’s Little Italy before we began the drive back. Only it was now 10pm and we dead tired. We stayed up all night packing, left early to catch our flight(s) back, and now were exhausted.
Nevertheless, we tried to make it home, tried being the operative word. But by the time we reached Carlsbad we both could not keep our eyes open and pulled off into a rest stop to take a short nap.
Only that short nap turned into a six hour nap. Around 4:30a we both awoke and continued the drive back to LA. We made it home in time for breakfast. On me, since I’m such a good brother.
Back to my Flight…
Anyway, the p.s. flight started with mixed nuts and United’s then-signature Sunrise Sunset cocktail.
That was followed by an appetizer of salmon-wrapped asparagus and a green salad.
The main course, admittedly, was a bit of a letdown. This was no Boudin’s sourdough bread. The beef chili inside was surprisingly good and the accompaniments nice, but it was mostly doughy bread. A+ for originality, though.
Thank goodness for a nice ice cream sundae after the meal!
United now runs p.s. between Newark and SFO/LAX and still offers a unique menu for these flights. I haven’t seen the beef chili in a sourdough bread bowl back on the menu, however…