Some people flying domestic on US Airways were getting the option to order their US Airways MarketPlace menu selection ahead of time. While I haven’t seen US Airways run out of all meals in coach (the way I have on American), they usually run out of the cheese plate and the salad, and leave a few unappetizing options. I shared a work around I discovered last month that allowed anyone to participate in the pre-order on board.
Then US Airways caught onto me.
Well, sort of.
I received a note from Todd Lehmacher in Corporate Communications warning me that my work around won’t work for much longer.
Busted? Actually, quite the opposite. US Airways is rolling out with pre-order on board for everyone on domestic flights 3.5 hours or longer–basically, whenever their Market Place menu offers meals.
I talked to Nick Richards from their DineFresh program about the pre-order program. At first, they rolled it out to Dividend Miles Members. The problem with that was many of the people who would use the program ended up getting upgraded to first class and were getting meals anyway.
The huge benefit Mr. Richards pointed out was that whether you were in the bulkhead or rear, you could get your choice of menu items. This is especially useful (in my opinion) to making sure you get one of the better menu items. The fruit plate is great and always available and some of the sandwiches have been huge misses. (I remember a strange turkey, mayo and maybe hummus sandwich that was a mystery.)
I’m a huge fan of programs like this beyond offering me my preferred choice of meal–it allows airlines to weed out the undesirable food options. When a flight runs out of the cheese plate, customers will order the other menu items. The airline doesn’t necessarily know that the cheese plate ran out first. This would send a quicker signal that the turkey and hummus sandwich is strange, and US Airways’ food would adjust.
The program is pre-order, not pre-pay, so if you order something and change your flight or get upgraded, then you aren’t on the hook for your sandwich. I’ve done this three times and used my workaround to get Keri into the program twice and can verify it is really easy. (The meal literally had my name on it).
The program’s window (in line with my guess) opens 72 hours before flights and closes 24 hours beforehand. The pre-order instructions will be sent out in an email ahead of time, and there’s no central place on the website to make your selections.
For international flights, on the other hand, there’s a cool way to select a premium meal ahead of time on your flight (in coach). These meals are $21.99, include premium wines, and must be ordered and paid for ahead of time. They do not stock extra ones online.
These meals were first released for east bound flights (and I’ve mentioned them before), but they just released meals on the west bound flights. You can start ordering your meal 72 hours before your flight, but this is a feature I think is really cool–you can select your return flight meal at the same time you are selecting your outbound. I really like this because I never really get a chance to do that sort of thing when I’m mid-travel.
These selections can sell out ahead of time. If you miss the email for the international domestic premium meals, you can go to this part of the website to type in your flight information and bring up your choices.
The bento boxes actually look pretty cool, and I would definitely taste test them given the chance–I especially think it’s cool you can get your choice of protein in the asian noodles. But I won’t be able to offer you a taste test any time soon. I have a pretty sizeable stockpile of points, so I’m probably flying mostly in envoy. (Though point me to a great fare, and I may fly internationally for the opportunity!) I’m really looking forward to the future in US Airways food. It looks on its way up.
But for now? For now I’m eyeballing the wine list! 😉