Nearly 250 international, domestic and regional aircraft in United Airlines’ fleet will transform to include 1,600 premium seats.
At a time when many airlines are hatching plans to cram more seats onto planes, United is pulling them out to make room for its affluent customers. The airline is retrofitting its fleet—the first of 21 reconfigured Boeing 767-300ER aircraft will debut in the next few weeks—to include more United Polaris and United First seats.
In a recent press release by the airline, Andrew Nocella, United’s executive VP and COO, summarized the shift toward premium travel as a clear benefit to business travelers. “From adding more premium seats on aircraft that serve some of our most traveled routes, introducing a revolutionary, best-in-class 50-seat experience or simply offering free DIRECTV on more than 200 aircraft, we are committed to making United the airline that our customers choose to fly.”
Which Aircraft & How Many?
United will add four United First seats on its Airbus A319 aircraft, increasing the total count from eight to 12, and increase United First seats from 12 to 16 on its Airbus A320s. The reconfigured A319s will also feature 36 Economy Plus and 78 Economy seats, while the A320s will have 39 Economy Plus seats and 95 Economy seats.
The Boeing 767-300ER fleet will increase to 46 premium cabin seats total, and feature 22 United Premium Plus, 47 Economy Plus and 52 Economy seats. The reconfigured 767 will debut for a Newark/New York to London flight “with 50 percent more premium seats in the largest premium route in the world,” according to the release. United expects to introduce all the reconfigured aircraft to its fleet by the end of next year.
Introducing the Bombardier CRJ 550
A new two-cabin, 50-seat Bombardier CRJ 550 aircraft, purported to feature “more legroom, storage and amenities” for regional routes, is also in the works. Dubbed “the only 50-seat aircraft in the world to offer true first-class seating,” the CRJ 550 will include LED lighting, a self-serve beverage and snack station in the premium cabin, WiFi and “more overall legroom per seat than any other 50-seat aircraft flown by any US carrier.” Another perk that the airline highlights is its four storage closets for carryon bags, which will position the CRJ 550 as “the only regional jet in the skies where customers will not need to routinely gate check their bags.” The two-cabin CRJ 550 will feature 10 United First, 20 Economy Plus, and 20 Economy seats.