New seasonal complimentary food menu at United Clubs effective today

Back in April, United introduced a major overhaul to the complimentary food selection at their United Club locations worldwide. The meager selection of pre-packaged cheese and crackers was supposed to make way for a healthier, more diverse and more nutritional selection including a yogurt bar with mixed fruit, hard broiled eggs and oatmeal at breakfast, and salami, soups and salads throughout the day.

There was much rejoicing at the time, though in retrospect, the roll out has been somewhat disappointing.

  • The enhancement was promptly followed by an increase in membership prices.
  • United’s complimentary offer remains overall weaker than Delta’s, and both Delta and American Airlines, unlike United, also offer premium food (for purchase) at select locations.
  • The roll-out has proven to be monumentally slow. As of today, only United Clubs at hub locations in San Francisco, Washington, DC, Chicago, Denver, Houston and New York-Newark feature the new offer, in addition to the clubs in Boston, Orlando, Cleveland, and San Diego. United operates over 80 lounges worldwide, so most clubs still have the legacy spread at this time.
  • Some menu items such as the hard broiled eggs and salami rarely make an appearance, and the selection at non-hub locations appears to be somewhat more limited.
  • Food presentation is often lacking, and the staff is typically slow to replenish items.

A new autumnal offering is being rolled out at hub locations

Via the popular frequent flyer community FlyerTalk.com, United announced today the introduction of a new menu at United Club hub locations, confirming informal reports from a few travelers.

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United’s announcement:

Today we’re beginning a seasonal rotation of the United Club complimentary fresh food menus at our hubs. The menu launching today features more autumnal produce, hearty soups, and other seasonal items. We continue to progressively introduce a version of the previous menu at our line stations, and starting next year we’ll be introducing a new menu at all clubs with each season.

The menu reads as follows.

Morning:

  • Greek vanilla yogurt with fruit salad featuring pineapple chunks, sweet honeydew and cantaloupe chunks, and crisp red seedless grapes
  • Sliced hard boiled eggs with assorted toppings including bacon bits, minced red onion and capers
  • Cream of rice with golden and dark raisins
  • Assorted croissants and pound cakes
Afternoon:

  • Salami nuggets, sweet capicola, panino meats and assorted cheeses including gouda, Muenster and Swiss
  • Monthly soup rotation with assorted artisan bread and wheat crackers: Corn chowder with chicken; Butternut squash; Tuscan style white bean with chicken
  • Fresh cut zucchini, yellow squash, cherry tomato medley
  • Monthly fresh leafy greens salad rotation with assorted artisan bread and wheat crackers: Dressed kale leaf salad with carrots and raspberry vinaigrette; Dressed spinach leaf salad; De-constructed wedge salad

Overall, the new breakfast offering feels like a downgrade — we mourn the loss of the oatmeal, yoghurt and fresh berries, which were a highlight. Overall, the emphasis on fresh salads and veggies during the day sounds like positive news. We also like the idea of a more frequent rotation of soups.

Ultimately, implementation is key, and if the full menu isn’t consistently available, then the official offering is irrelevant. United’s wording (“Here’s what you might see in our hub locations in the new rotation”) is not especially encouraging. United’s announcement is also somewhat difficult to parse. Somehow, the airline is hinting at the fact that non-hub locations will continue to receive the previous selection until next year, which sounds surprising.

Delta's complimentary food selection remains the standard. | Delta Sky Club - San Francisco, CA (LAX)

Delta’s complimentary food selection remains the standard. | Delta Sky Club – San Francisco, CA (LAX)

Instead of announcing seasonal offerings, we wish United focused on completing the transition system wide as soon as possible, and on maintaining higher standards where the new spread is available, by replenishing items more promptly better maintaining the appearance of the buffet. A new premium food program was also supposedly in the pipeline, although the airline has remained coy on this topic.

American Airline's complimentary food spread is limited, but many clubs offer premium food for purchase. - American Airlines Admirals Club - Chicago O'Hare (ORD)

American Airlines’ complimentary food spread is limited, but many clubs offer premium food for purchase. | American Airlines Admirals Club – Chicago O’Hare (ORD)

Featured photo: United Club complimentary food spread

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