United to Add More Premium Seats to Their Airplanes

Courtesy United Airlines

Plus, a new jet that’s 20 percent business class seats.

On Wednesday, United Airlines shared that they’d be making a change to 250 of its airplanes—and this time it’s not cutting back on legroom. Exactly the opposite, actually (and thankfully).

The airline will be adding 1,600 premium seats to its fleet, according to the Associated Press. The move to cater to higher-paying customers was made after airline executives decided that there was “a shortage of business-class seats into the premium markets, and this fixed that problem,” said United Chief Commercial Officer Andrew Nocella to the AP.

While this is good news to business class travelers, it’s also a statement on the current state of airline competition: United is not the only airline looking to improve the act of flying for more of its customers. Delta and American Airlines have also recently made moves to cater to this level of traveler.

The introduction of American Airlines’ “premium economy” was a move in this direction and Delta has already seen huge financial gains from offering more premium seats. The AP reports that increasing premium seats by nearly 21 percent since 2011 has resulted in a 47 percent increase in premium seat sales.

This increase in premium seats on United planes means some business-class-heavy routes will be getting a new bird in the sky: a 50-seat jet mostly filled with premium-level seats. Nocella shared in the announcement that these new jets will have 10 business class seats, 20 economy plus seats, and 20 economy seats.

While there’s no date on when this transition will officially happen, but it’s already in the works for a selection of aircraft. The Points Guy reports that the modified planes will be flying between Newark and London Heathrow and that 21 planes will be outfitted with “46 business-class seats  in a 1-1-1 configuration.” United has stated that a number of the 21 planes will be in service over the next several weeks, but they’re all expected to be in the air by the end of 2020.