Looking to ensure that your preferred snack box or beverage is available on board? United Airlines passengers traveling in economy class will soon have that option as the company rolls out a pre-order pilot program.
On the sidelines of the United Next event last week in Newark highlighting the company’s 270 aircraft order and new Signature Interior, United employees also showed off some of the new technology tied to the travel experience. One component of that was a demonstration of the flight attendant interface for passengers’ stored credit card details.
When walking through the aisle the cabin crew can see details about a passenger, including their stored card details, 1K elite status (for a comp’d drink/snack) or other relevant details. Starting later this month on a limited number of flights from Chicago that interface could also show pre-ordered drinks or snacks.
For travelers the upside is (greater) certainty of their desired snack being available on board. It also delivers significant potential benefits to the airline.
Read More: United trials pre-order meals on board
Since the shift to buy-on-board catering airlines have struggled to optimize cart loads with the desire to reduce waste and lower costs. With the new system in place United will have a better idea of what travelers on board want and can adjust catering supply in advance of departure. Reduced waste and happier travelers should prove a winning combination.
It also gives the airline additional opportunities to develop merchandising options for the on-board offerings. Discounted bundle pricing is one angle, though not guaranteed to happen. Enabling pay with points is another that is easier to effect in a preorder environment. But simply creating additional opportunities for travelers to make the purchase should deliver incremental sales on the product.
The company must also deal with the inevitable service delivery challenges tied to missed connections and cancelled flights, but that should be a much smaller part of the program than the increase in sales.
This is not United’s first foray into the pre-order world. The company trialed similar for first class passengers in Summer 2019. That effort quietly fell by the wayside. Hopefully this time around is more successful.
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