Let’s face it. Service on airlines has gone down pretty much across the board in the United States. With the exception of Southwest, which has kept it simple and fun for years, you’re likely to enjoy less amenities in-flight than you might have 5 years ago.
A recent United Airlines flight caught me a bit by surprise, even though nothing really should surprise me anymore. It was the flight I noted where United was passing out mints to customers as part of a credit card sign-up pitch.
This was on a flight from Chicago-O’Hare airport to Washington Dulles airport. Those flights are generally about 2 hours from gate to gate, or about 100 minutes of flying time. Definitely not a “short hop”, per se.
When the staff finished passing out mints, they began the beverage service. It consisted of…..glasses of water.
I was pretty surprised that this route now appears to feature only water service. To my knowledge, there are no regional jets on this route, all mainline aircraft. And, most of the times I’ve flown this route, the plane has been full. I generally see a solid percentage of business travelers on the route as well.
I’ve flown shorter routes on many other carriers and gotten considerably more than a glass of water. Heck, in Europe, 100 minutes is enough time for a hot meal service and 2 drink services.
The Final Two Pennies
It really makes me wonder if this is some sort of test/fluke? The staff were pretty adamant that this was what they’d been doing for a while.
I don’t really eat or drink much on domestic flights. I bring my own bottle of water and generally eat before I board, or purchase a sandwich in the terminal to eat onboard. To that end, changes like this have little impact on me. However, I do wonder how others feel. The more an airline like United makes their product like Frontier and Spirit, the more customers choose based on price. I’d hazard a guess that Frontier and Spirit have drinks available for purchase on flights of this length. That’s something United wasn’t offering in this instance (nor do they normally sell soft drinks).
Bottom line here is that “less” is what you should expect. Basic Economy fares are spreading. And, in some cases, basic benefits are going away.
Heck, even BoltBus offers free Wifi and power outlets…..
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