The pandemic forced major changes in the air travel industry, one of which was reducing in-flight meal options for months (even years) on end. But if you were afraid your family might miss out on the magic of airline food suited to the particular sensibilities of children as you fly the friendly skies this holiday season, then do I have news for you: United Airlines is bringing back kids’ meals “on select flights,” according to the United public relations team.
Which flights offer kids’ meals?
According to a United press release, “United’s kids’ meals are available now on flights greater than 2,000 miles in cabins where complimentary meal service is offered.” Usually the meal would be an entree, either lunch or dinner. However, breakfast will be served “on select domestic flights (including Hawai’i), international flights departing the U.S., and international flights returning to the U.S.”
So, if you’re traveling cross-country or internationally, you won’t have to pack a full meal for your picky eater, assuming they’ll eat the meal served on United. You’ll still have to pack an array of snacks, though, of course, or risk the flight attendants running out of Biscoff to feed your little one.
What’s on the United kids menu?
For breakfast, “United offers a breakfast meal of French toast with sausage, fruit and a croissant.” If there’s syrup, hopefully they also give you extra wet wipes.
For lunch or dinner, “kids can enjoy chicken tenders with fruit, dinner roll and dessert on select domestic flights (including Hawai’i) and international flights departing the U.S, or a grilled cheese sandwich with fruit on international flights returning to the U.S.” It’s nice to know the option of a hot meal is available for kids who won’t eat the more eclectic offerings that cater to adults on longer flights.
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How do you opt into the United kids meal?
If you want to get a kids’ meal, the airline won’t psychically divine that you have a child passenger who eats grilled cheese.
“Kids meals are currently available by request, and beginning in 2023, kids’ meals will be available for pre-order in eligible cabins on select flights,” says the PR rep. Currently you can either choose the meal when you book your ticket or add it on later via the United app. Starting next year, there will be an additional option for your kid to pick from the available menu items on the day of travel, which is a huge plus for kids who are prone to changing their minds or who eat more than one food (so, not my kids).
Some parents balk at the idea of kids’ meals, aiming to develop a more sophisticated palate in their children. They don’t want their kids to eat only grilled cheese and chicken tenders, and in a busy holiday season with lots of opportunities for less-than-nutrient-dense foods, adding yet another cheese-and-bread item to kids’ diets might not be welcome. To those parents, I say: Congrats, Sarah, you can still request the adult meal for your kid or bring something onboard from the terminal or home. For the rest of us, it’s nice that United has chosen to take one thing off our plates this year by placing something our picky kids might actually eat on the tray table.