Greetings from 28,000 feet, as I travel back to Los Angeles from Las Vegas. In celebration of the return of glassware and ceramic cups onboard United Airlines, I took a brief trip to Las Vegas this morning.
In March 2020, citing fear COVID-19 could be spread over surfaces, United Airlines (and other U.S. airlines) eliminated glassware and ceramic cups in their premium cabins.
At long last, 20 months later, glassware has returned. Even as the new omicron variant threatens travel recovery once again, I’m elated.
And judging from the cabin reaction today from the other first class travelers, I was not the only passenger who was delighted by the return of “real” cups and glasses.
The guy behind me, letting out a big laugh, loudly stated, “What the heck are these? We haven’t seen ‘em in almost two years!” A flight attendant smiled. She was proud to serve him coffee in a ceramic cup.
Pre-departure beverages were also back, with another flight attendant proudly offering a choice of sparkling wine or water.
Is dignity too strong a word? Perhaps, but long before the pandemic I’ve argued that coffee is not meant to be sipped from a paper cup or wine from a plastic cup. This small change (United had simply put the glassware in storage), certainly puts some class back in first class.
And lest you think this trip was totally wasteful, I’m still a few segments short of the 36 necessary to re-qualify for 1K status without spending an extra $3,000 (1K status this year is earned by spending $12,000 and flying 36 segments or simply spending $15,000 with a minimum of four segments). I figured a sub-$100 round-trip to Las Vegas made sense as it does not appear United Airlines will offer a status extension, unlike Delta Air Lines and American Airlines.
Finally, a brief explanation to our readers outside the United States. U.S. carriers call their domestic front-cabin product “first class” even though the seats are generally regional business class seats. Perhaps I am not old enough to understand or explain why airlines have kept the “first class” label, but it does not appear to be going anywhere.
Now two segments closer to my 1K goal, I could not help but to schedule this trip on December 1st, the day that glassware returned.
As a customer and business owner who directs a lot of traffic to United Airlines, I say thank you for making this small but meaningful change.
Now, if you don’t mind, I’ll get back to my coffee:
(I brought the croissant onboard. Hint, hint United.)
Matthew is an avid traveler who calls Los Angeles home. Each year he travels more than 200,000 miles by air and has visited more than 135 countries. Working both in the aviation industry and as a travel consultant, Matthew has been featured in major media outlets around the world and uses his Live and Let’s Fly blog to share the latest news in the airline industry, commentary on frequent flyer programs, and detailed reports of his worldwide travel.
Did the coffee taste good? What brand?
Coffee was fine. Illy. I would have preferred it a bit stronger, but it wasn’t bad.
If you double bag the Ily, it delicious with a fair amount of sugar!! Half and half as well !!
It’s still illy dark roast coffee. It’s not bad at all.
“Finally, a brief explanation to our readers outside the United States. U.S. carriers call their domestic front-cabin product “first class” even though the seats are generally regional business class seats.”
I’d argue more like premium economy seats. West Jet actually is truthful that their domestic “business class” is premium economy and markets it as such.
Will any other airlines start doing the same?
It all depends upon what you refenrce it against. Against international business class? Sure, it is premium economy. But against economy class? I’d say it’s a tad above premium economy when you consider the catering (at least prior to the pandemic).
Extra legroom Economy was also somewhat heavily marketed as “Premium Economy” for a generic catch-all term by most news outlets and online travel agencies, when it was initially offered.
I’m not sure if the airlines were ever guilty of this… Main Cabin Extra, Economy Plus, and Comfort Plus all eschew the Premium Economy moniker, but I think most people in the US think of the “Premium Economy” as the above domestic products, rather than something with a wider seat.
I’m so excited about this for next week when I got out for my final four segments needed…although it seems almost impossible for upgrades to clear (I’m only Platinum though). So it seems like a lot of people have already qualified with all of the bonus PQP available.
Regarding First Class…I’m sure it’s worth a lot more when sold as “First Class” instead of “Premium Economy” even if it is the exact same product, the name will make people pay more, is my guess.
Miscalculated my PQP for the $3k promotion and ended up a couple hundred short and will now be about $1k short by end of year for $15K requirement 🙁 . Debating if it’s worth it to rebook my last flight of the year EWR>LAX in an expensive biz fare to requalify
You have to *buy* a croissant in ‘first class’? European business class catering may not be very good (apart from A3 and TK), but at least it’s included in the ticket price!
He brought it with him. Brought vs bought. You don’t buy stuff in domestic first.
Oops, I misread that!
I would call it Sanity Returns. Great to see,
While you’re still chasing 1K, any word on when requirements for next year will come out and, if there’s any chance Plus Point will be extended past the end of January? I have a bunch I haven’t been able to use and with the hysteria over the new variant, who knows what will happen.
Had the pre-departures drinks on SEA-DEN yesterday, but still all plastic. Was nice to see things getting more normal, hopefully it will roll fully before year end.
Dignity? Is there really dignity in shoving food down your gullet as quickly as possible and chugging your beverages, lest the mask police get you? C’mon. There will be no civility or comfort in flying until the face diapers go away, if ever.
To me, “first” class now is just a bigger and more comfortable seat, and a free checked bag. I eat and drink in an airport lounge in relative normalcy, and then abstain on the plane. Not worth getting scolded or worse because I dare to savor a bite or sip a moment too long before scrunching the mask back over my mouth.
Is the glassware a good sign of things improving? Sure. But we’re still nowhere close to dignity in premium cabins.
If adults stopped acting like kids and get vaccinated then we wouldn’t have a problem.
Please remove this comment, which recklessly promotes behaviors that threaten public health.
@ Matthew — I heard United will end glassware tomorrow, as it might spread Omicron and safety is their top priority,
I can’t imagine worse timing to reintroduce glassware and ceramic mugs. How can they justify this in light of the new variant? United needs to put safety before comfort and eliminate these amenities that increase the risk of transmission.
If only that were true on all flights. DSM-ORD this morning was still serving in plastic. At least Pre-departure drinks were back!
Agree with you Jay. SFO-BWI was a trip I was looking toward to. First class is a treat to me. Should hav save the extra fare and stuck with economy plus.
Plastic cups, Bad food, and practically zero service. So disappointing.
Was that trip today? Glassware only came back 12/01.
“Dignity” is not a word one expects to encounter in reading a post about a trip to Las Vegas.
So you are saying a flight from LAX to LAS hits 40,000? Interesting.
Can you show that flight pattern?
I’m aware what tremendous feats airlines are capable of once they abandon dignity.
Matt: Did you not try “fly to the finish”
Offer? I was able to retain my 1k status by going after $2700 & 10 segment spend between Aug1 thru Nov30..
I didn’t need to spend that much on travel during that period, so I didn’t. Now I’m spending (hopefully less) on travel I also don’t need…which is kind of sad for an envirometnally-progressive carrier, but I’m taking the path of least-resistance.
Does this mean your traveling glassware from the pandemic days are available? I’m thinking you should offer them on eBay. God knows they have a story tell….
Serving food and drink in flight proves the mask mandate is a farce. You are thrown off the plane and fined for refusing to wear a mask. Then 10 minutes into the flight, 100 -250 people can take their mask off for as long as needed to eat and drink all they want. Facing each other 18 inches apart.
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