A Return To Normalcy at 36,000 Feet

United Airlines finally restored the business class service after nearly 20 months. There are pre-departure drinks available, including champagne, juice and water. Real glassware is used to serve in-flight beverages. Even meals are served on ceramic plates. It is a joy. Here’s a post by The Points Guy about the changes.

Initial COVID safety precautions had led to the elimination of these amenities. Do you remember fomites and touch points? It was long known that glass and plates are not vectors for the coronavirus. However, airlines did not allow these plates and glasses to be used as they were considered cost-saving measures. In fact, concierge lounges are still closed by hotels today under the pretense of social distance. Restaurants remain open. United is bringing back these benefits, and it’s a great thing. My DCA-IAH flight attendants were delighted to see the usual service items back.

But not all flight attendants like it. Recenty, United Flight Attendant Union opposed the predeparture beverage for unrelated reasons. Why? Why? This visual makes it harder to enforce the mandate.

Customers are required to use a mask when they board aircraft. Upon arrival, rows of premium customers wearing masks are waiting for them.

The union sent a message on Friday to members stating that the “visual” it created is in direct contradiction of the messages passengers were exposed to prior to boarding. It also stated that federal regulations require all passengers to wear a mask to protect their noses and mouths.

The memo said, “We have expressed concern about this being another challenge for Flight Attendants trying to achieve compliance with Federal Mask Mandate,”

This objection is reasonable. As I mentioned, enforcement of the mandate to wear masks varies greatly. Some attendants will announce it at the start of a flight but never mention it again. Some flight attendants insist on people wearing masks between bites, sips and chews, even toddlers, as they go up and down rows. For them, it is an exhausting trip.

My flight was delayed in that the beverages were not served until all passengers boarded. However, they were still available when we touched down at the airport. This may have been a compromise.

United’s 787 Dreamliner will be my flying companion on Sunday. My meal was ordered in advance, chimichurri chicken. It is something I look forward to. It is the same day domestic mileage run (point) that I will need in order to reach the next level. It was easy to maintain status this year thanks to airlines.’s first article, A Return to Normalcy at 36,000 Feet, appeared on