Per UA Insider on FlyerTalk, United is actually making some positive changes, and there doesn’t seem to be a catch!
Improved long-haul comfort with more flat-bed seats. In September, we’ll begin installing all-new flat-bed seats in the premium cabins on 26 Boeing 767s – 12 Continental 767-400 aircraft and 14 United 767-300 aircraft (the ones currently in a domestic configuration). These aircraft will also have audio-video on demand and in-seat power from nose to tail. As for our three-cabin 777s, these retrofits are continuing with 17 of 46 aircraft complete and another dozen added to that by year-end. All of these aircraft will have advanced in-flight entertainment in First and Business and on-demand entertainment in Economy. To date, we have more flat-bed seats than any other U.S. airline, with 124 aircraft reconfigured to date and 185 once the 767 and 777 fleets are completed.
Wow, so United is actually reconfiguring some of their domestic 767s for international flying. It sounds like they’ll be two cabin planes, as opposed to United’s international 767s, which are currently configured with first class. Regardless, that’s great news, since United’s domestic 767s are among the most uncomfortable in the fleet.
More Economy Plus, and soon. This fall we’ll also begin installing Economy Plus seating on our Continental mainline aircraft. We aim to have it on 38 Continental aircraft by year end (including some of the 767-400s mentioned above) and plus another 100 by next spring. Once we’re done, we will have Economy Plus on over 850 aircraft – more than any other airline. Worth noting: when installing Economy Plus on the Continental aircraft, we’ll be taking Economy Class seats out and leaving First and Business Class cabins intact.
Now this is actually huge news. When United announced that Economy Plus was going to stay, I said to myself “right, but at the expense of how many first class seats?” I figured they’d be taking a row of first class out of Continental’s 737 fleet and adding Economy Plus. But that’s not the case. Instead the Economy Plus seats will come at the expense of “regular” coach seats. Fantastic.
First Class and Economy Plus is coming to all 29 of our United Express Q400s. Enjoy!
First class on United props? Props to United!
Channel 9? Roger that. Our Channel 9 air traffic control audio channel will be added to all Continental aircraft equipped with in-flight entertainment (said another way: everything but the 737-500s). The first aircraft to get it will be our renovated Continental 767-400s, which will begin re-entering the fleet this fall.
More awesome news. I hope they discussed this with their pilots union!
Bigger bins coming to over 150 aircraft. Beginning in March 2012, we’ll nearly double the size of the overhead bins on our 152 Airbus A319 and A320 aircraft. The larger bins will accommodate a standard 22-inch rolling bag with wheels facing out resulting in increased space of 66 percent. At the same time, we’ll also refresh the interiors of this fleet.
I suppose this is good news, though I’m quite puzzled. The A320s already have the biggest overhead bins in United’s domestic fleet. Doubling the size of the overhead bins? Now people will carry on even more crap. At least there will be less of an issue with gate checking bags.
Streaming in-flight entertainment and Wi-Fi are in the works. We’re currently selecting a vendor to provide streaming video in-flight entertainment option on our 747-400 aircraft, enabling customers to access video options via their Wi-Fi-enabled handheld devices, tablets and laptop computers. This would be in addition to the audio-video on-demand currently offered in First and Business Class. We’re also continuing with our plan to install Wi-Fi on our aircraft. Last March, Continental Airlines signed a letter of intent with LiveTV to install advanced broadband Wi-Fi using Ka-band satellite technology on more than 200 737 and 757 aircraft equipped with DIRECTV. Stay tuned on this front, there’s more to come.
United’s gotta do better than this. They’re simply so uncompetitive in this respect. American and Delta are so far ahead on the wifi front that it’s downright embarrassing for United. You can’t be the airline of business travelers without having wifi on most of your planes. How about investing in this instead of bigger overhead bins?
Major facelift for p.s. We’ll be doing a complete nose-to-tail renovation of our popular p.s. fleet, which serve the New York Kennedy to San Francisco and Los Angeles markets. When completed in 2013, these aircraft will be in a two-cabin configuration with 26 flat-bed Business Class seats and 114 in Economy. These aircraft will also offer Economy Plus, power ports at every row, on-demand audio and video and Wi-Fi service.
This is probably a wash. On one hand PS planes are going from 38 premium seats to 26 premium seats. That means upgrades are getting much, much tougher, not only because of the reduction of premium seats, but because of the increased competition for those seats, since there will be about 50% more coach seats.
On the other hand, Economy Plus and audio and video on-demand are a huge step up from the current PS coach product.
So on the whole these are positive changes, and answer a lot of questions that were left about the merger. Now let’s just see what Mileage Plus looks like in 2012 (hopefully not like this).