Airline food

Travel Tidbits: from United and JetBlue

United Airlines will open its Polaris lounge at San Francisco International Airport (at Gate  G92) on April 30 to passengers traveling in the premium cabin travel.

The two-level, 28,000 square foot lounge has 440 seats, 492 power outlets and USB ports, 5 daybeds with Saks Fifth Avenue bedding, 8 shower suites, valets who will steam garments for you, a bistro-like buffet and a restaurant-style dining area.

At the bar, they’ll be serving cocktails inspired by the Bay Area including, says United, the Mai Tai, invented in Oakland in 1944, and the Pisco Punch, “featuring pisco which became all the rage during the California Gold Rush of 1849.”

Not flying through SFO? In addition to this new lounge and the existing one at Chicago O’Hare, United will open Polaris lounges at Newark Liberty International Airport in early June, George Bush Intercontinental in Houston this summer and at Los Angeles International Airport this fall.

United also introduced some food and beverage upgrades for passengers on board.

Starting May 1, pasengers can purchase egg and chicken chorizo tacos (breakfast/$8.99) and barbecue chicken sandwiches (lunch/dinner; $9.99) from the inflight menu and some interesting new beers and ales, including Lagunitas Sumpin’ Easy Ale, New Belgium’s Citradelic Tangerine IPA and, this summer,  Belgian pilsner Stella Artois ($7.99 each). 

For those flying on JetBlue’s Mint flights, be sure to open and take home the limited-edition amenity kit.

In addition to a keeper pair of SuperSoft socks from Basic Outfitters, the kit includes a toothbrush and toothpaste, eye mask, screen wipe, pen, earplugs and pillow pack, and a Hudson Made New York trio of lip salve, facial mist and hand cream – all tucked in a Hayward and Hopper collaboratively designed travel bag inspired by Dennis Hopper and Brooke Hayward’s Los Angeles home circa 1963.

 

Delta brings back main cabin meals

 

Here’s something we hope other airlines rush to follow.

Delta Air Lines is bringing back complimentary meals in the main cabin on some of its longest domestic flights, including transcontinental routes between New York’s JFK and Los Angeles/San Francisco.

Starting March 1, Delta will offer complimentary meals in the Main Cabin on flights between JFK and LAX/SFO.

The following month – starting April  24   –  the airline will expand complimentary meals to 10 other major domestic markets from Seattle, New York, Boston and Washington, D.C. including between BOS/SFO, BOS/LAX, BOS/SEA, DCA/LAX, JFK/PDX, JFK/SAN, JFK/SEA, SEA/FLL, SEA/MCO and SEA/RDU.

Delta has strong competition on many of these routes, so competitors may be be moved to match meal service.

Delta’s  meal options will vary by time of day.

In the morning, Delta says it will offer customers the choice between a Honey Maple Breakfast Sandwich, a Luvo Breakfast Medley or a fruit and cheese plate.

During the day, the choices will be a Mesquite-Smoked Turkey Combo, Luvo Mediterranean Whole Grain Veggie Wrap, or a fruit and cheese plate.

And on overnight flights, passenger will be offered a breakfast bar during the pre-arrival beverage service.

In addition to the Main Cabin meal service, customers seated in Delta Comfort+ will now get a pre-arrival snack basket on all 12 routes, along with complimentary beer, wine and spirits for customers 21+ and a mid-service Greek frozen yogurt bar on flights from JFK to/from LAX and SFO.

The airline says the meal service is part of its ongoing multi-million dollar investment in the on-board customer experience that includes upgraded main cabin snacks, better blankets, refreshed food-for-purchase options, free in-flight entertainment and – for customers on long-haul international flights –  complimentary beer, wine and spirits and sleep kits.

 

 

 

Travel Tidbits from DFW, YYZ & Delta

North Pole ice santa

A few travel tidbits for a Friday in December

Dallas Fort Worth International (DFW) Airport and Coca-Cola have teamed up to bring some holiday cheer to travelers this holiday season with surprise give-aways of Coke products, Coca-Cola bears and other gifts delivered by the Coca-Cola Polar bear – who will be hidden inside giant gift boxes.

Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ) is holding its fifth annual citizenship ceremony on Friday for 50 of the countries newest citizens and marking a milestone with the commemoration the first government-sponsored Syrian refugee flight at the airport on December 10, 2015.

Many of those refugees are now obtaining Canadian citizenship.

And good news for snack-lovers flying Delta Air Lines

Starting December 14, Delta will roll out a new, complimentary Main Cabin snack line up – with larger-size portions – of Snyder’s of Hanover pretzels, Squirrel Brand Honey Roasted peanuts and NatureBox Apple Cinnamon Yogurt Bars – along with the carrier’s signature Biscoff cookies.

The complimentary snacks will be available in the Main Cabin on all flights over 250 miles.

Passengers on shorter flights within North America from 251 to 599 miles will now receive a choice of Biscoff cookies or Snyder’s of Hanover® pretzels; before this they were only only offered one choice.

Passengers on flights over 600 miles will have four choices of snacks instead of three. And customers on international flights will receive a choice of Snyder’s of Hanover® pretzels or Squirrel Brand Honey Roasted peanuts.

To celebrate the new snacks, Delta has set up branded vending machines in Los Angeles, Seattle and New York to offer complimentary samples.

Delta serving Pacific NW treats

delta northwest

Some may see it as yet another way Delta Air Lines is trying to outdo Seattle-based Alaska Airlines in the Seattle and west coast markets, but in this case passengers flying in the first class cabin will reap the benefits.

Starting this week on “select” flights from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, Delta Airlines will be serving First Class cabin passengers salmon and other Northwest-based food favorites.

If you live in Seattle or have visited, you’ll recognize the names of these local suppliers and products:

Pike Place Chowder,
Pike Place Fish Market
The Pike Brewing Company’s XXXXX Stout Mustard,
Uli’s Famous Sausage,
Beecher’s Handmade Cheese,
Le Panier Bakery,
Pappardelle’s Pasta.

Menus using ingredients from these suppliers (i.e. Pappardelle’s lavender fettuccine with Pike Place Fish Market’s wild Alaskan coho salmon and Northwest Seafood Seasoningar) are being served to First Class passengers on flights from Seattle to Los Angeles and San Francisco, and Delta said it plans to expand this line-up to other mainline lunch and dinner flights between 900 and 1,500 miles.

United starts pouring illy coffee on July 1.

United coffee art

You can stop saying “No, thank-you” when flight attendants on United Airlines flights come around offering coffee.

That’s because starting Friday, July 1, the carrier will start serving a specially chosen dark roast coffee from famed Italian coffee roaster illy on all flights.

“We acted on customer feedback and are delivering a product our employees are proud to serve, while bringing excellence and passion to every one of the 72 million cups of coffee we serve inflight every year,” said Jimmy Samartzis, United’s vice president of Food Services and United Clubs in a statement.

After merging with Continental Airlines, United had stopped serving Starbucks brand coffee in favor of the brand Continental had been serving. Customers noticed.

To fix that, United went all out – sending Illy coffee experts and caffeine-conscious employees into airports and onto flights to do taste testing and gather feedback on which coffee blend might be the best replacement – and the dark roast blend “won.”

United began serving the illy coffee in its United Club locations in December, 2015. Now that illy has had time to ramp up a special production line to make enough pillow-packs to supply United with the 50 tons of coffee it needs monthly, United passengers will be getting the better brew too.

United was really serious about this coffee switch and back in April, sent a team of key personnel to illy’s intensive University of Coffee at the Culinary Institute of America’s campus in St. Helena, Calif., where they learned about growing, roasting and preparing great coffee.

United team wiht their cups

I got to go along and wrote a piece for USA TODAY about the experience – and about United’s goals in making the switch.

You can read those stories here and here.

Coffee University_United's Jeffrey Pelch conducts taste test at illy University of Coffee in March 2016