Ice cream sundaes are coming back, but United’s catering still disappoints

There is a cherry on prime of United’s pandemic-era catering woes.

Starting in February, the Chicago-based service is bringing again its fan-favorite ice cream sundae cart to all long-haul worldwide flights within the Polaris business-class cabin.

This information was first teased on the airline’s social media channels, and United did not reply to TPG’s request for remark.

United introduced again its ice cream sundae cart on a handful of long-haul flights from its San Francisco hub on Dec. 1, 2022, as a part of a phased method to restoring elements of its onboard catering that it lower in the course of the pandemic. (This included routes to Brisbane, Frankfurt, Singapore and Sydney.)

Ice cream sundaes have lengthy been a staple in premium cabins, giving flyers a candy deal with to finish what’s normally a multi-course meal service.

United sundae cart from March 2020. ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

The ice cream is normally saved on dry ice within the galley, after which defrosted in the course of the flight by flight attendants. The sundae carts are then arrange for service with a topping bar, normally consisting of combined nuts, chocolate and caramel sauces, whipped cream and a few candies and fruits to enrich your creation.

On the outset of the pandemic, the ice cream sundae service was halted as a part of a larger revamp to onboard dining protocols. United (and its main rivals) have since introduced again many components of the pre-pandemic service, although the ice cream sundae cart has been noticeably absent on United.

Earlier than the cart returned to United, the airline provided business-class vacationers a scoop of ice cream topped with chocolate brownie bites on most long-haul flights departing from the U.S. Now, nevertheless, with the return of the sundae cart, you can decide your required toppings.

In the meantime, American’s sundae service returned final yr, however the airline is creating these Haagen Dazs ice cream treats within the galley after a flight attendant takes your order.

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American’s ice cream sundae in October 2022. ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

Delta, however, introduced again three-course meals to enterprise class final March. This included the return of a create-your-own ice cream sundae bar, with the ultimate creation pictured beneath.

Delta’s ice cream sundae from Could 2022. ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

Whereas sundaes are making a comeback, United nonetheless has a protracted method to go to revive its pre-pandemic catering requirements in its premium cabins.

In latest months, the service’s meals choices have drawn criticism from frequent flyers and trade analysts. Feedback on United’s announcement in regards to the return of the ice cream sundae cart included flyers asking the airline to “repair the remainder of your Polaris service.”

Others took a stronger tone, saying that “about the remainder of the catering, which might be worse than jail meals…. Your [top-tier Premier] 1K and GS [invite-only Global Services] members are shedding persistence.”

Personally, I’ve taken a handful of Polaris flights not too long ago and have been particularly unimpressed with United’s catering choices. I not too long ago posted in regards to the airline’s catering woes on Twitter, and vacationers typically agreed with my sentiments in regards to the want for United to enhance its catering.

United’s pandemic-era catering issues appear to be restricted in scope to the airline itself.

Each American and Delta have stepped up their premium-cabin choices, and I not too long ago had scrumptious meals on routes from the U.S. to Israel on United’s two most important rivals.

Even TPG’s founder, Brian Kelly, had a latest encounter with United’s subpar catering, exclaiming on Instagram that “immediately is the day United formally gave up on catering!”

Kelly shared photographs of what was described as hen tikka masala, and his publish drew a robust response, with over 1,000 followers commenting on the unappetizing meal.

The issues have gotten so dangerous that even United’s top executives have publicly acknowledged that the airline wants to enhance its catering.

“What I’d say is that we positively bought slowed down first by the pandemic itself and now by the provision chain challenges which were there,” chief buyer officer Linda Jojo mentioned in response to a query about United’s catering on the Skift Aviation Discussion board in Dallas again in November.

Including to the complexity is the truth that United contracts with 130 totally different catering kitchens the world over, Jojo added.

Hopefully, United can really handle its catering woes as soon as and for all earlier than the joy across the return of the sundae cart melts.

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