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United Is Finally Bringing Back This Beloved In-Flight Service, Starting Dec. 1

The airline is making long-awaited changes after receiving major backlash.

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Travelers have been subjected to so many different changes over the last few years, it's hard to keep up. As a result of the pandemic, most airlines mandated masks, banned the sale of alcohol, and altered other regular services for passengers. But while several of these changes have since been reversed, there are plenty of things about flying that are not quite back to normal yet. If you've been waiting on one in-flight service from United Airlines, however, you'll be thrilled to learn they're finally bringing it back after some serious complaints. Read on to find out what you can look forward to on your next flight.

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United Airlines is expecting a significant increase in passenger demand soon.

united airlines customers

The end-of-year holiday season has always been a busy season for air travel. But United Airlines recently revealed it believes demand this season will return to pre-pandemic levels for the first time since COVID started.

On Nov. 16, the carrier said it is expecting to carry 5.5 million passengers during the Thanksgiving travel period—which would be a roughly 12 percent increase from the same timeframe in 2021, per Reuters. According to the news outlet, United forecasts that Nov. 27—the Sunday after Thanksgiving—will mark the airline's busiest travel day since before COVID. More than 460,000 passengers are expected to fly with United Airlines that day alone.

"Really, this is the first normal Thanksgiving since [2019]. This is like our Super Bowl. We figure there will be more than two million people flying each day," Nick Calio, CEO for the airline trade association Airlines for America, told TravelPulse.

With this significant uptick in air travel demand expected, United Airlines is now gearing up to have something available for passengers once again at the start of December.

The carrier is bringing back an in-flight service for the holidays.

United airlines flight USA; a flight attendant is seen helping travelers in first class on an airplane in mid flight

While Thanksgiving passengers will just barely miss it, United is preparing to get one thing in order before the December holiday surge. On Nov. 17, Live and Let's Fly revealed that the carrier is planning to bring back a beloved in-flight treat for certain customers.

According to the travel news outlet, United will finally reintroduce its full ice cream sundae service on Dec. 1. But it will only initially roll out on four routes. Passengers in Polaris business class will be the first to have access to the service if they are flying from San Francisco to any of the following international cities: Brisbane, Frankfurt, Singapore, or Sydney.

United is calling this a "soft launch" return for the start of December, but Live and Let's Fly said it hopes that the airline will be quick in bringing back the full-service dessert option for other long-haul routes as well. "American Airlines and Delta Air Lines brought back their full ice cream sundae service months ago, so this move only begins to match what competitors have previously brought back," the outlet noted.

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This dessert service was beloved by passengers.

Ice cream sundae in big bowl

United Airlines currently offers Polaris business class passengers a "pre-dressed" ice cream dish, Live and Let's Fly reported. This dish is usually just vanilla ice cream with a single topping. But back in the day, the carrier had a three-tier dessert cart for its in-flight ice cream sundae service, which "was a staple of Polaris service prior to the pandemic," according to the outlet.

In a recent memo to flight attendants, United revealed that the decision to bring back this offering is because it is so beloved. "Based on customer and flight attendant feedback, we're revamping the Polaris dessert service and are bringing back a new three-tier dessert cart for our signature ice cream sundae service," United said in the memo, per Live and Let's Fly. "Cheese plates with fruit and tarts will be included as additional dessert options offered."

United passengers recently slammed the airline for its food.

Passenger eating meal on plane
Jaromir Chalabala/Shutterstock

This is an important time for United to bring back this beloved dessert, as the carrier has been on the receiving end of major criticism for its food service. On the subreddit r/unitedairlines, one Reddit user posted a picture of what he described as an "inedible" breakfast meal while flying economy from Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris to San Francisco International Airport. The photo shows eggs, which he wrote "consisted of the hardest egg white and some yellow sauce on top."

Another Redditor who also flew from Charles de Gaulle (but to Chicago O'Hare International Airport) posted a picture of their "'Lunch' aboard Polaris Business Class," which showed a burger patty alongside a bun with a yellow substance and a red-orange spread. "Is this what $7700 gets you? Any guesses as to what we think this is?" the Redditor wrote. "I would actually be really embarrassed, I know it is a plane and expectations for plane food are not high. But c'mon, food in SPACE is better than this 'burger.'"

Following this backlash, United Airlines has acknowledged the problems with its food service. During a Skift Aviation Forum in Dallas, Linda Jojo, United's chief customer officer, addressed some of the criticized offerings and revealed the carrier would be revamping things, The Points Guy reported. "I know you probably love the za'atar chicken and the Impossible meatballs," she said sarcastically. "Sorry to say, they're probably not gonna be around much longer."

According to Jojo, the carrier's food had been impacted by COVID. "What I would say is that we definitely got slowed down first by the pandemic itself and now by the supply chain challenges that have been there," she said, adding that United now allows customers to pre-order meals on certain flights and collects that data to help its catering decisions. "We will be feeding that data through our analytics engines and we now know what customers want and will have a better chance of putting that on the plane."

Kali Coleman
Kali Coleman is a Senior Editor at Best Life. Her primary focus is covering news, where she often keeps readers informed on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and up-to-date on the latest retail closures. Read more
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