United Rolls Out Upgrades to Premium Service Planes

Posted by Seth Miller on March 22, 2013 at 12:59:07 PM EDT | Post a Comment

Passengers on United Airlines' flights between New York City's JFK airport and San Francisco or Los Angeles will see some changes on board as of this week. United's premium service ("p.s.") airplanes are being reconfigured as part of the company's recent $550 million fleet update investment. Passengers in all cabins are likely to notice a difference as they get on board one of the planes with the new layout.

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All passengers will see an update to the in-flight entertainment system. Rather than overhead screens or personal tablets (only in business and first class), all seats will now have on-demand systems with more than 150 hours of programming available, plus music and games. The screens are 15 inches in business class and 9 inches in economy. The p.s. fleet will continue to offer in-flight internet connectivity through the Gogo service, with the latest Gogo upgrades to be installed during the coming year, further improving the connection speeds and capacity.

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For premium cabin passengers there will no longer be a first class cabin on board the p.s. planes. The 12 first class and 26 business class seats will be replaced by 28 new business class seats. These new seats offer fully flat beds, similar to the business class seats used on intercontinental trips. Business class passengers also have access to the United Club lounges at their departure airport.

Economy cabin passengers will also see a mixed bag of changes to the offerings. The old configuration offered 72 seats in an all-EconomyPlus configuration with up to 34 inches of pitch at the seats. The new configuration will have only 48 EconomyPlus seats but the pitch will be greater at 36 inches. There will also be 66 regular economy seats on board with 31" pitch. That's good news for passengers who can get the EconomyPlus seats but many passengers will now have to pay for the increased legroom rather than everyone getting it as part of the regular ticket price.

There is a lot for passengers to be happy about with these changes. But some of the changes are also not so great for passengers. American Airlines and Delta are also stepping up their trans-con service with improved premium cabin offerings and Virgin America and JetBlue also operate in the markets. That's a lot of competition and a lot of choices for passengers. United is hoping these changes let them remain competitive.

Photo credits: Courtesy of United Airlines

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