Eating Dinner for Breakfast in United BusinessFirst

Aug 13, 2015

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Last night, TPG Editor-in-Chief Zach Honig decided to make an unusual request on his flight from Newark to Dublin.

Some international airlines have mastered the on-demand dining concept, such as what you’ll find in Etihad first class. Naturally, US carriers have plenty of room for improvement when it comes to catering and in-flight service, but they do sometimes make an attempt to deliver semi-personalized service in premium cabins. On a recent AA flight, my request to eat a quick meal right after takeoff was all but ignored, but United does a pretty good job of accommodating on-demand dining requests, albeit rarely with enthusiasm.

If you read a United BusinessFirst or Global First menu carefully, you’ll see a mention of the airline’s “Executive Dining” option. If you opt for this service, you can have the appetizer, salad and entree from your flight’s main meal served on a single tray at any point during the flight. You’ll miss out on some of the other courses (including the ice cream sundae), but it’s a great option if you’d rather sleep or work than sit through a two-hour in-flight meal.

Eating dinner for breakfast on United.
Eating dinner for breakfast on United.

On my flight from Newark to Dublin last night, I decided to push the service to its limits, asking for the salmon with crabmeat dinner option to be served just before landing. After a quick discussion with a colleague, the flight attendant granted my wish. I reclined my lie-flat seat and slept for the next five hours. My dinner was served around 9:15 a.m. local time in Dublin, just 30 minutes before landing.

Since I far prefer the dinner options to what United’s normally serves for breakfast, I’m definitely going to make this a regular practice. I arrived full, well-rested and ready to start the day.

United's new business-class amenity kit.
United’s new business-class amenity kit.

As an added bonus, this was my first flight with United’s new amenity kits, which are actually pretty fantastic. The bag itself looks like it’s made from leather (it’s not) — I think I’ll be much less likely to leave this one behind on the plane.

Booking BusinessFirst with Miles

There were at least nine BusinessFirst award seats available for redemption during the days leading up to my flight, though none when I originally booked this flight a couple of months ago (as a coach fare upgraded with a Global Premier Upgrade). Four seats went out empty (including the two next to me, pictured up top).

A one-way flight will run you 57,500 United MileagePlus miles. United operates nonstop 757-200 service to Dublin from Chicago, Newark and Washington, D.C. You can connect from elsewhere in the US for the same number of miles. Currently, the easiest way to quickly earn United miles is with the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, which offers a sign-up bonus of 40,000 Ultimate Rewards points (instantly transferrable to United) after spending $4,000 in the first three months, plus another 5,000 points after adding an authorized user and making a purchase within the same period.


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