Delta lets passengers choose in advance the option to skip a meal, and save the airline money. Japan Airlines even suggests that doing so is a moral imperative.
This is a trend sweeping the industry, reducing food cost by getting passengers to pre-committing not to eat. United is a part of it too, and they are offering customers more than one choice now to nudge them not to eat. Both of these options that appear when pre-ordering mean the same thing, United can spend less on catering:
- I’m not going to eat
- I’m going to eat before my flight
I’m not sure I’d consider United Club offerings to be a meal. And I’m also not sure it’s a good idea to decide in advance that you’re going to make it to the airline early enough, and not face a backup at security, so that you’ll have enough time to do so. You could face traffic on the way to the airport! It might take longer than usual to get an Uber! You might get to the United Club and remember that what they’re offering is… barely food?
At least Japan Airlines gives you an extra amenity kit when you don’t take the meal this way, and China Southern has compensated passengers with miles. United gives you nothing – except not having to eat their food.