United Airlines to Better Dining Options for Domestic Fliers - Analyst Blog

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In an effort to augment travelers' on-board experience, United Continental Holdings Inc. ( UAL ) has launched intriguing food and beverage options for its domestic premium customers. The latest offering will include four new salad choices, replacing the previous chicken and shrimp salad options.

Beginning Sep 1, 2014, premium cabin customers within North America will get chilled sandwiches and wraps, which includes Italian prosciutto on tomato focaccia, Cobb salad wrap, a Thai style chicken wrap and caprese on Asiago baguette. Apart from these, new warm sandwich options will also feature on the menu.

The new salads and sandwiches will be served fresh with a gluten-free soup, along with the carrier's traditional offerings which include warmed nuts, premium snacks and warmed cookies. In addition, beginning this fall, first and business class customers will be able to enjoy a glass of Prosecco - an Italian sparkling white wine - on all of United Airlines' North American flights.

In early 2015, United Airlines plans to offer premium cabin meals on flights that travel more than 2 hours 20 minutes or span 800 miles. According to the Chicago-based carrier, more than 100 daily flights under the United Airlines banner will offer the new menu to passengers availing its services.

Further, United Airlines intends to serve freshly prepared food to the front cabin passengers of United Express in place of the snack boxes served currently. Meanwhile, economy class passengers on all long-haul flights will be served enhanced meals and beverages, subject to departure and arrival timings, flight duration, and places of origin and destination.

United Airlines' decision to revamp its on-board menu comes right on the heels of rival American Airlines Group Inc.'s ( AAL ) decision to curtail food service for premium passengers on flights shorter than 2 hours 45 minutes. The largest carrier in the U.S. has expressed its intention to have a similar food policy for its group carrier U.S. Airways as well.

Meanwhile, Delta Air Lines Inc. ( DAL ), which upgrades in-flight food options on a regular basis, offers meals for its domestic premium passengers on flights spanning 900 miles or more. However, as an exception, all traditional carriers including United Airlines provide full meals on a number of shorter flights on popular and significant business routes.

Passenger carriers in the U.S. consider it a customary investment to enhance customers' in-flight experience to counter competition. United Airlines ensures that it does not lag behind in this regard. The carrier has introduced lie-flat premium seats on all its long haul international flights apart from offering Wi-Fi service and in-flight entertainment. The culinary revamp is yet another attempt by the carrier to remain competitive and lure higher number of domestic passengers.

United Airlines currently carries a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). Another stock worth considering is Southwest Airlines Co. ( LUV ), with a similar Zacks Rank #1.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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