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Fast Food

Satisfying passengers' appetites worldwide is no small job

BY FEEDING CUSTOMERS on airplanes zipping through the sky at close to 600 mph, United gives new meaning to the term “fast food.” The airline maintains kitchens at airports in Cleveland, Denver, Honolulu, Houston and Newark, and partners with 180 different vendors to keep the pantries stocked on flights around the globe. The United kitchens alone keep 2,200 workers busy.

The Houston kitchen prepares 30,000 meals a day during peak season; the same goes for the Newark kitchen. For those meals, the airline boards 2 million pounds of chicken and 1.5 million pounds of beef every year, which includes 300,000 pounds of Sterling Silver Premium beef for United’s premium-cabin meals.

In numbers, here’s what it takes to keep customers satisfied system-wide every year:

* 50 million complimentary meals worldwide
* 2.3 million snack boxes
* 3.5 million domestic fresh products
* 1.6 million à la carte products
* 1.2 million bottles of premium wine
* 22 million liters of water
* 10 million quarts of orange juice
* 55 million pounds office
* 44 million cans of soda, which comes to about 4.12 million gallons of soda

Bon appetit!


With Captain Mike Bowers

Q: Pilots often report that there’s a smooth ride ahead. Does this mean they can talk to pilots in other planes?

A: We normally don’t talk to other pilots as much as we listen to what they are saying to the air traffic controller. There are several aircraft on a common radio frequency, which is controlled by an air traffic controller. While communication is normally between the controller and the pilots (not pilot to pilot), we can hear the conversations going on and are aware if a plane ahead of us is experiencing turbulence. We can also ask the controller for “ride reports,” and he or she will query the flights ahead of us to see if their ride is smooth. Many United aircraft give you the option to listen to these conversations on Channel 9 on the in-flight entertainment system.

Do you have a question for Captain Bowers? Write him at askthepilot@united.com.

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