Good news for parents traveling with young kids – United is bringing back special kids’ in-flight’ meals.
Bad news – Even though United is promoting it as “just in time for holiday travel”, the child-friendly menu option does not start serving until 2023, after the peak holiday travel season between Thanksgiving, Hanukah, Christmas and New Year’s.
Also, the special meals are only on flights of more than 2,000 miles on which complimentary meals are served, including international flights.
There’s no word in the press release about any special kids’ options in the pre-packaged for-purchase snack and sandwich choices cabin attendants offer on most flights, and no date for the actual start of the option in 2023.
The kids’ meals have to be ordered in advance, just like any other special menu request, whether it’s vegetarian or Kosher – on any United flight eligible for pre-order online or by the airline’s mobile app.
For breakfast, the kids’ meal is French toast with sausage, fruit and a croissant.
Lunch and dinner choices are young favorites like chicken tenders, grilled cheese sandwiches, fruit, dinner rolls and desserts.
The new kids’ meals can be pre-ordered on new ticket reservations, or added to existing ones up to 24 hours before flight time. Just look for the prompt “Children’s Meals” on the list of special onboard meal options.
Special meals for kids are nothing new. In the 1990s, United served McDonald’s “Friendly Skies Meals,” which were similar to Happy Meals, with items like cheeseburgers, cookies and a toy.
And other airlines offer meals to make kids happy. The Points Guy has a round-up of several – both free and not free
American has complimentary meals for kids on flights were meals are served, and parents of infants can order meals with jarred baby food.
Alaska Airlines has a $7.50 Kid’s Choice Picnic Pack with snack items like white cheddar puffs, turkey jerky, applesauce, a granola bar, gummy bears and a small toy to keep them busy after they finish their meal. These, along with other inflight meals, can be preordered online between two weeks and 20 hours prior to your flight.
Allegiant offers a $10 Deluxe Wingz Kids Snack Pack that comes with white cheddar puffs, turkey jerky, apple sauce, fruit snacks and cookies.
Spirit offers a Kids Snack Box on the inflight menu for a reasonable $5.50, for cookies, crackers, fruit snacks, candy and a hand sanitizing wipe to take care of post-snack sticky hands.
“We’re committed to providing a great onboard experience for all of our customers, and we’re thrilled to be able to offer our youngest flyers new, kid-friendly food options on select routes,” said Aaron McMillan, United’s managing director of hospitality and planning, in a press release.
“We know there’s a lot to balance when traveling as a family – especially during the busy holiday season – and hope this helps to put parents’ minds at ease as they prepare for travel with us.”
Even though – as we said earlier – the same press release also says United’s new kids’ meals won’t be available until 2023.
But that’s in time for next year’s holiday season, including MLK and Presidents Day Weekends, Memorial Day, July Fourth, Labor Day, Veterans Day and the holiday season now underway in 2022.
ecoXplorer Evelyn Kanter is a journalist with 20+ years of experience as a newspaper and magazine writer, radio & TV news producer & reporter, and author of guidebooks and smartphone apps – all focusing on travel, automotive, the environment and your rights as a consumer.
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