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Apr 23, 2013 12:35 PM

Well, sort of about food - preordering meals on US Air....

This is sort of like that old joke about the two women complaining about the food they ate at their recent stay in a Catskills resort: "The food was awful!" "Yes, and they served such small portions!..."

I was very nervous about how to handle my food necessities on an upcoming (short) trip to Chicago. I have to work until around 2pm on Friday with no real break, then head straight to the airport to catch my flight. I do change planes in Phoenix, but with less than an hour there I can't count on having time to buy food. (And really, I may not have enough time to purchase anything at the airport before I leave). I know there are meals for sale onboard, but it always seems that they run out of everything before half the plane is served, and the variety/portion size doesn't make for a satisfying meal.....and I have been on flights where there were no real meals available, only snacks....

So I was trying to convince my hubby to have a lunch ready for me when he took me to the airport after work, but his culinary strengths don't lend themselves to grab and carry meals. So I was actually pleasantly surprised to receive an email from US Air: apparently they now offer you the chance to pre-order a meal before the flight (and you can change it up to 24 hours in advance). Then when you get on the plane they just bring it to you and charge your credit card. If the flight is cancelled or you miss it due to delays, no meal and you don't have to pay.

Sure, its the same old lousy food, but at least you know that there will be enough for you to have some. (Or should I not count on it working as advertised?) Have any of you ever done this, and if so is there a particular meal choice that is better than the others? Is the fruit/cheese plate enough for a light supper? How about the salads (the one offered comes with chicken....). Remember, I would normally bring my own or buy something at the airport, but the timing (including an event the evening before) makes it very difficult for me to do so this trip.....

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  1. The whole concept of actually paying for an in-flight meal is beyond my ken. All I can say is I hope it works out and you are pleasantly surprised. Please report back on the outcome.

    1 Reply
    1. re: grampart

      We fly a good bit and still find it one of the best bargains around. With the legitimate financial difficulties that US carriers face, I think charging for meals on shorter flight (or any for that matter) makes a world of sense.

    2. I would just not do this. It's not that hard to stop somewhere like a grocery store the day before and run in and get a ready to eat sandwich or salad that you can take with you the next day. Airplane food, pre-ordered or not, is horrid. You could buy a few things Thurs night - snacks, a sandwich, whatever, or make them even, and then just take them with you. You could take a packet of tuna and crackers or something if you're worried about spoilage. Anything is better than airplane food, seriously.

      3 Replies
      1. re: rockandroller1

        r&r's right. Put down the fork, Morton, there are more choices available.

          1. re: rockandroller1

            The main problem isn't airplane food; the problem is airplanes. Low humidity, low pressure, and engine noise all interfere with our sense of taste. The food itself is pretty much the same quality as any other cheap pre-packaged convenience food (though they charge about twice what it's worth).

          2. I would eat in the car on the way to the airport, perhaps your husband can bring a sub sandwich or something like that. I would also bring a snack or two, like nuts or a granola bar, if I start feeling peckish on the plane. Then, have a late dinner once I got to where I was going.

            9 Replies
            1. re: juliejulez

              That's my point. There're always more choices.

              1. re: juliejulez

                Well, the flight doesn't land until midnight Chicago time, so a late dinner once I get there is probably not a good option, especially since I have to be up and semi-alert at 7:30 or so the next am. And I plan on bringing a snack or maybe a sandwich to work to nibble on before I get off at two. And I HATE sub sandwiches.....reminds me of Subway (see the thread somewhere about the smell...). I just wondered if anyone had actually TRIED the options bad can a fruit/cheese plate be anyway? And the drive from work to the airport is about 10 minutes, max, so eating in the car on the way is not a good option. If I had an hour to kill I would go to a favorite pho joint just a block or so from the airport and fill up there. But I really don't. When I said "short" trip to Chicago, I didn't mean it is a short fight for me....just one of those weekends where I will spend as much time in airports and airplanes as in meetings....

                1. re: janetofreno

                  My experience with in-flight meals is that fruit and raw veggies can get really really bad.

                  Personally, I would go for whatever is the most "cooked" (microved on the plane...) or packaged (cheese & crackers, yogurts, nuts, etc) and treat it as a case where the inflight meal is there to make sure you don't arrive hungry and/or cranky. Aside from raw vegetables and fruit, I've never had an inflight meal that was so bad I'd describe it as inedible.

                  1. re: cresyd

                    I think I go with you. Every inflight meal I've ever had the salad was the weak link. Limp greens, pink tomatoes, etc. I'm not real picky with airplane food. We recently had a pasta saucy thing that was actually quite good. Along with the ubiquitous roll, butter, packet of cheese and dessert, it was fine. Fuel but fine.

                    Recently we weren't sure if our connection was going to allow us to grab lunch, so I packed some cheese, pate', olives and crackers in a little divided refrigerator container. Really enjoyed that. Not what you asked but just saying.

                  2. re: janetofreno

                    Another thing to keep in mind is the option of ordering a kosher or vegetarian meal. As those are more often made to order, there's a greater likelihood of freshness.

                    1. re: cresyd

                      Good point Cresyd - I've always found the vegetarian option the best of all options, although I've never ordered a kosher.

                    2. re: janetofreno

                      I have not had the fruit/cheese plate on US Air, but I've had it on United and it's not good. The fruit was not really fresh and had no flavor.

                      1. re: janetofreno

                        Can your hubby manage a good ol' PB&J? That can be eaten in 10 minutes :)

                        1. re: juliejulez

                          Haha, that was exactly what I was thinking. OP put it very diplomatically: `his culinary strengths don't lend themselves to grab and carry meals.' Not sure what culinary skills are involved in something like PB&J and dropping an apple and some cookies in a bag.

                          Of course, OP's real question is regarding people's actual experiences with calling ahead and pre-ordering. I have no experience with this except on the few occasions back when serving hot meals was standard, and I'd sometimes put in a special meal request. They got it right about 75% of the time --out of maybe four occasions I tried it, so hardly a statistically meaningful estimate.

                    3. Ask your husband to stop by the store on the way to pick you up and buy a couple slices of salami/ham/turkey, a couple of slices of various non-stinky cheeses, and a mini baguette or roll. Order a glass of wine and enjoy your own little picnic as others eat their wilted salads and fruit plates. Relax and peruse the SkyMall catalog to find your husband a personalized steak-branding, vibra-massage wine opener tuned to the Atomic clock as a thank you for the nice lunch.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: seamunky

                        Probably the best suggestion so far:-) Unfortunately DH doesn't eat steaks so won't appreciate the branding. And since he doesn't eat meat and has cheese very rarely, he might not be the best person to trust to buy the picnic. Wish this town had a decent chaat house; he could be trusted to pick up some bhel puri and maybe some that would make a good picnic!

                      2. I'm very interested to hear how this works out if you do order the meal. Given the size of the country where I'm living now, the vast majority of all my flights are international which I think usually lends itself to vaguely better meals (but at least they're free).

                        I personally don't mind eating the free airline meal over bring my own, because I find most brought meals to always end up smelling really strongly on the flight. No matter how tame it seems ahead of time.