Is United Airlines and Jeff Smisek flying too high to keep an ear to the ground?

United First Business Vegetarian (strict) Lunch in business First from Europe. It is steamed Broccoli, Carrots and some other vegetable on white rice.
United First Business Vegetarian (strict) Lunch in business First from Europe. It is steamed Broccoli, Carrots and some other vegetable on white rice  with a dab of tomato based sauce.

The trend in eating today is generally moving towards healthy alternatives and Vegetarian or even Vegan options. Many people are concerned with the effects on their bodies from over eating and eating things that may not be as good for us as we once thought. It seems to me that this is something that has totally flown by the radar unnoticed by anyone at United Airlines, and in particular the ones that are responsible for coming up with food items to be served on United flights.

The above picture is an example of just that. It was the main course for lunch on a flight from Paris (CDG) to Washington D.C. (IAD) in the beginning of January 2014. Pretty uninspiring may I say, some steamed veggies on top of white rice! Really?  Is this First Business food? It is un-inspiring, and just a sign of laziness on the side of the kitchen in any class of service. Mr. Smisek, would this meal make you a happy customer if you were a vegetarian or vegan person? Well it certainly didn’t make me very happy and I am one, vegan that is. Here is another kicker, all other meals get a fresh salad – the vegetarian meal does not have a fresh salad to go with it!  The cabin crew was very nice and managed to get me a salad and some other vegetarian food that they had to spare.  This is not my first such experience with United, and if I continue being a United customer, likely not my last unless we can stir some changes up at United.

Below is another example of the un-inspired Vegetarian food items that is served on United Airlines flights. This time it is an Economy class breakfast box on a Transatlantic flight, Newark (EWR) to Stockholm Sweden (ARN). It consists of a rock hard cold bagel in plastic, a minimalist tub of margarine, a cup of fruits in heavy syrup, and a packet of mrs. Dash (?!). I can only speculate on why the mrs. Dash is included, not something I think anyone in their right mind would put on their bagel or their syrupy fruits, it must have something to do with Mrs. Dash being salt free…

United Airlines Economy Vegetarian (strict) Breakfast February 2014
United Airlines Economy Vegetarian (strict) Breakfast February 2014

It is interesting to observe that all the regular meals have a small tray of fresh fruits included in them, but not the Vegetarian box. The standard meals also come with warm croissants.

Dinner service is not much different from the breakfast service, the standard economy class dinner meal have a fresh salad included – if you chose to order the Vegetarian special meal, there is no fresh salad but a half frozen tub of some mix of middle eastern style grains.

Maybe we need to impress on United’s responsible parties in the catering department, that being a Vegetarian generally means that you like eating fresh fruit and vegetables. In addition there are plenty of really tasty dishes that can be prepared from all plant based ingredients, pretty much the same way that one would prepare non vegetarian food – just replace the meats with plant based ingredients.

So, Mr. Smisek, what are you going to do about this? I certainly hope you will do something, let me know if you need any help. I can probably steer you to some really good Vegetarian chefs, if nothing else.