Big United Airlines News: 1,600+ New Premium Seats Coming Across The Fleet


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United Airlines has announced that it plans to add more than 1,600 Polaris Business Class and “United First” seats to approximately 250 international and domestic aircraft.

As well as adding extra premium cabin seats to its mainline fleet United has confirmed that it will be adding the 2-cabin Bombardier CRJ 550 aircraft to “key regional routes” in a push to offer customers “more legroom, storage and amenities than any other 50 seat regional aircraft operating today“.

Wow.

What has Oscar Munoz done with Scott Kirby??

Is this really the news coming out from an airline whose President is the poster-boy for cuts, cuts and more cuts?

Here’s what United has planned….

United Airlines Boeing 767 Refurbishment

In a few weeks time United will begin to add the first (of 21) reconfigured Boeing 767-300ER aircraft which will all offer an additional 16 Polaris Business Class seats (when compared to the previous cabin layout) and 22 United Premium Plus (Premium Economy) seats too.

The reconfigured 767-300ERs will also be home to 47 Economy Plus seats and 52 standard Economy Class seats.

United has said that the first reconfigured 767 will operate between Newark and London Heathrow (no date has yet been provided) and the airline expects to have all 21 reconfigured aircraft in its fleet by the end of next year.

United Adds First Class Seats To Its A319 & A320 Aircraft

Starting this fall United will be adding 4 more First Class seats to all of its Airbus A319 aircraft….

…and 4 more First Class seats to the frontmost cabin of its Airbus A320s too:

Both aircraft will also offer 36 Economy Plus and 78 regular Economy Class seats.

The expansion of the First Class cabins will see the A319s lose 6 Economy Plus seats while maintaining the number of regular Economy Class seats it already has and the A320s will lose 3 Economy Plus seats and just one regular Economy Class seat.

United Adds The 2-Cabin Bombardier CRJ 550 To Its Fleet

By the end of 2019 United plans to have added fifty 50-seat Bombardier CRJ 550 aircraft to its fleet and all will offer a 2-cabin configuration.

Here’s how the airline has introduced its newest aircraft:

In addition to becoming the only 50-seat aircraft in the world to offer true first-class seating, the innovative new aircraft will provide customers with a truly exceptional flying experience, including a state-of-the-art interior featuring LED lighting, a self-serve beverage and snack station for customers seated in the premium cabin, Wi-Fi and more overall legroom per seat than any other 50-seat aircraft flown by any U.S. carrier.

Additionally, the CRJ 550 will feature four storage closets, providing customers ample room to store their carryon bags and making the CRJ 550 the only regional jet in the skies where customers will not need to routinely gate check their bags.

And here’s the infographic that’s accompanying the new CRJ 550:

As the infographic shows, the new Bombardier  CRJ550 will offer 10 First Class seats, 20 Economy Plus seats and 20 regular Economy Class seats and has been brought in to eventually replace United’s existing single-cabin 50-seat aircraft.

The airline has confirmed that it anticipates the first CRJ 550s will begin operating “in the second half of this year” on routes out of Chicago O’Hare before also beginning to offer service out of Newark.

Thoughts

I have to admit that as I read through the details of this announcement I must have said “wow” to myself at least 3 or 4 times because I’m struggling to believe that this news is coming out of United.

Scott Kirby isn’t exactly Mr “let’s give passengers what they want” and United is the airline that has been rolling out its Polaris Business Class product on a timescale normally reserved for describing the ages of man.

And yet here we have an announcement which says that United will soon be offering a LOT more premium cabin seats than it does right now…and that’s fantastic news.

The 50-seat configuration in the new CRJ 550 seems incredibly generous considering aircraft of this size normally offer upwards of 70 seats so this should be very welcome news to United’s long-suffering regional jet flyers.

The news of the extra Polaris Business Class seating in the 767s is good too and, in this case, when the airline mentions “Polaris Business Class” it’s referring to the actual modern Polaris Business Class seat and not the antiquated seats it has in its Dreamliners (and other aircraft) which it also calls “Polaris Business Class”.

Even the A319/A320 news is great as I never expected to see United (or any legacy US carrier) increase the size of an existing First Class cabin…and yet that’s exactly what United has announced.

The airline isn’t actually decreasing the number of seats in the aircraft all that much to incorporate the extra First Class seats so it will be interesting to see if seat pitch will be remaining the same in the Economy Class cabin or if United plans to adopt the American Airlines policy of squeezing seats closer together.

Bottom Line

This is undoubtably fantastic news for United’s premium cabin and regional jet flyers and may end up actually winning the airline quite a bit of Business from disenchanted flyers from one of its biggest competitors – American Airlines,

All we’ve been seeing from American recently is the expansion of “Project Oasis” which is the ridiculous name the airline has given to its “lets make passengers more miserable” project whose aim is to reduce personal space through the short-haul fleet while, at the same time, removing amenities and shrinking the size of the onboard lavatories too.

American Airlines flyers living in markets where both airlines have a good presence (e.g. LA) now have an extra incentive to take a look and see if the grass is any greener on United’s side of the fence.

Overall it looks like United’s management actually deserves a big pat on the back for pushing forward with some really positive news for premium cabin flyers….and if they can do all that they’ve promised without making the Economy Class cabin any more miserable then the news will be even better.

3 COMMENTS

  1. it’s a very smart and shrewd way around those stupid SCOPE clauses that tied UA’s hands regarding 2-class 76-seaters by creating a plane that bypasses all of that

    must suck for those militant pilot unions to have their stupid SCOPE side-stepped like that hhahhaahha

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