United Airlines plans to add more than 1,600 new business class and first class seats across its domestic, regional and international fleet. The Chicago-based firm said the move was “the next step in its commitment to making customers more comfortable”.
Almost 250 aircraft will have their premium seating capacity increased. This includes 21 Boeing 767-300s, which will see the current 30 Polaris business class seats replaced with 46 Polaris and 22 Premium Plus options, complementing 47 in economy plus and 52 in economy. Passengers on the carrier’s transatlantic route from Newark to Heathrow will be the first to fly on the reconfigured jet “in the next several weeks”. The airline boasts that this will give its 767-300 the highest proportion of any widebody operated by a US carrier between the two airports.
As for its regional offering, United says it will increase the number of first class seats from eight to 12 on all of its Airbus A319s and from 12 to 16 on its entire A320 fleet. This is in addition to the planned introduction of 50 Bombardier CRJ550s from the end of 2019, which will feature 10 first class seats, along with 20 in economy plus and 20 economy. United reports that select routes from Chicago/O’Hare and Newark will be served by the new regional jets.
Andrew Nocella, United’s executive vice president and chief commercial officer remarked: “In an era where many airlines are adding seats to their aircraft to crowd more passengers onto the plane, we’re re-configuring more than 100 of our aircraft and doing exactly the opposite – for the benefit of our customers.”
The airline expects to introduce all the reconfigured aircraft to its fleet by the end of next year.