United lures top fliers with a hot meal

NEW YORK – To win the hearts of frequent business travelers, United Airlines is going through their stomachs.

The carrier has been looking for ways to woo back some of its top fliers who defected to other carriers following a rocky merger with Continental Airlines. So, it’s upgrading first class food options and replacing snacks with full meals on some of its shortest flights.

The changes, announced Thursday, mean that instead of potato chips, chocolate chip cookies and bananas, passengers on flights of at least 800 miles will get meals such as chicken and mozzarella on a tomato focaccia roll and turkey and Swiss cheese on a cranberry baguette.

Currently, meals are only served on flights of 900 miles or more – trips that usually last close to two hours.