United Airlines set to trial new self-serve snack bars onboard planes where passengers will be able to get up from their seats and grab free food for themselves

United Airlines will be trialing a new self-serve snack bar on some of its flights - where passengers will be able to get up from their seats and grab some free bites and refreshments


  • Travelers will now be able to serve themselves at a walk-up ‘Grab-N-Go’ station
  • United will be implementing the process on its newest aircraft, the A321neo 
  • The kiosks will offer a ‘limited supply of water and the snacks’

United Airlines will be trialing a new self-serve snack bar on some of its flights – where passengers will be able to get up from their seats and grab some free bites and refreshments themselves instead of relying on a flight attendant to bring them.

If you’ve ever been on an airplane, you know all too well that long-anticipated wait as you see the cabin crew slowly making their way down the aisle with the food and beverage cart.

But now United Airlines is trying out a different method – one where travelers will serve themselves at a walk-up ‘Grab-N-Go’ station.

The airline will be implementing the process on its newest aircraft, the Airbus A321neo, which will make its first flight on November 30 from Chicago O’Hare International Airport.

United Airlines will be trialing a new self-serve snack bar on some of its flights – where passengers will be able to get up from their seats and grab some free bites and refreshments

According to the company, the kiosks will offer a ‘limited supply of water and the snacks offered during the complimentary service’ – but for now, it will only open up after the airline workers finish making their first round of service.

Some of the items that will be available include fruit bars, chocolate quinoa crisps, and savory snack mix, according to Business Insider. The stand will only be offered on flights that are longer than 801 miles.

‘This new offering is just the latest in United’s ongoing efforts to up-level the customer experience for every customer, in every cabin,’ United said in a statement to the outlet.

Jetblue has been offering a similar snack bar on a limited number of its flights since 2014.

Travel industry analyst Harry Harteveldt weighed in on the change to The Washington Post, explaining, ‘What these self-service pantries do is help the airlines do a better job of pleasing customers.

‘Passengers really like this. And when passengers are happy, the crew is happy, and when the crew is happy, passengers are happier.

‘[The snack kiosks] make it easier for passengers to have more enjoyable flights, and to reduce the burden on the cabin crew having to run back and forth to serve individual passengers.’

He added that the service acts as a ‘small but meaningful point of differentiation’ for United ‘in an industry that long ago became a homogenous blob of sameness.’ 

The items that will be available include water, fruit bars, chocolate quinoa crisps, and snack mix - and will open up after the airline workers finish their first round of service (stock image)

The items that will be available include water, fruit bars, chocolate quinoa crisps, and snack mix – and will open up after the airline workers finish their first round of service (stock image)

‘Where 80 to 90 per cent of what an airline does is the same between airlines, that puts an awful lot of importance on remaining 10 or 20 per cent to help stand out from key competitors,’ he continued. 

‘If part of that differentiation is a self-service pantry, then so be it.’

So will it eventually become the new normal on every airline and one day eliminate flight attendants passing out snacks once and for all?

Robert W. Mann, an airline consultant, told the Post, ‘It likely depends on costs, customer acceptance, comments and flight attendant post-flight write-ups.’

He also pointed out that there are a few potential drawbacks – explaining that if a large line forms on the aisles it could ‘inconvenience and annoy’ customers sitting nearby.

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