Like many carriers today, Alaska Airlines is attempting to make the first class travel experience more seamless by letting you pre-select your meal before departure. It’s annoying to find that the airline has sold out of your preferred meal, and it’s bad economics for the airline to over-supply and later throw out extra food. Some people end up going hungry, especially travelers have specific dietary restrictions.
With the introduction of “First Class Pre-Select” on Alaska’s mobile app, travelers seated in the front cabin can select their meal between 1 and 14 days before departure. This lets the airline can load the right number and make sure you get your first choice in the air. Passengers will get to choose between two entrees or, if neither one fits their needs, they can have the Signature Fruit and Cheese Platter on a first class plate.
It’s worth noting that this is not necessarily an increase in the amount or variety of food being offered. I know Rocky has complained often about the lack of a vegetarian option on longer flights. (Shorter flights on Alaska Airlines tend to have only one option, and it’s almost always vegetarian.)
I’ve reached out to Alaska for a comment on how they’re responding to this issue and have been told that the fruit and cheese plate will always be an option, even when there’s a normal vegetarian meal on the menu. (This is not the same as saying that there will always be a vegetarian meal in addition to the fruit and cheese plate.) However, I was also told that there’s an ongoing effort to refresh the menu that will “more thoroughly address the choices [offered] on each flight.”
The new Pre-Select service will roll out in two phases on select routes between Seattle and East Coast cities. Additional routes will hopefully be added after that trial, but as I mentioned not all routes have two meal options to begin with so it may be a moot point.
October 10 will see Pre-Select on routes from Seattle to:
- Baltimore (BWI)
- Washington-Dulles (IAD)
- Washington-Reagan (DCA)
- Fort Lauderdale (FLL)
- Orlando (MCO)
- Tampa (TPA)
October 24 will see Pre-Select routes in the reverse direction, heading to Seattle, from the same cities.
Alaska Airlines shares more on their corporate blog. But basically, once you have a confirmed reservation in first class you should be able to select “Food reservation” from the itinerary overview on your mobile phone, underneath the usual flight details and seat assignment. From there you can select a meal up to 24 hours before departure.
Wait too long (or get upgraded too late) and you may be stuck with the usual lottery, where passengers receive their meal choice only until that option runs out.