Getting a premium seat on United Airlines should become easier after the US carrier announced it will be adding 1600 Polaris business class and United First seats to almost 250 international and domestic aircraft.
The airline is also adding 50 Bombardier CRJ-550 regional jets to its fleet, a move it says will offer customers on its regional routes a United First option as well as more legroom and storage than other regional aircraft.
Both moves are aimed at luring big-spending premium travelers.
United will introduce to its fleet the first of 21 reconfigured Boeing 767-300ER aircraft hosting 16 additional Polaris seats.
This represents an increase of 50 percent and brings the premium cabin seat count to 46.
United will initially operate the reconfigured 767s, which it boasts offers the highest proportion of premium seats on any widebody operated by a US carrier, between Newark/New York and London.
Comfy chairs will also be more prevalent on the carrier’s Airbus A319 and A320 aircraft.
From the US Fall, the airline will boost the number of United First seats on A319s from eight to 12. The A320s will see the number of United First seats increase from 12 to 16 from the beginning of next year.
“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,” said United chief commercial Andrew Nocella.
United says the new Bombardier CRJ 550 regional jets will the first in the world to offer true US first class seating with 10 United First seats as well as 20 Economy Plus and 20 economy seats.
The cabins will include LED lighting, a self-serve beverage and snack station for customers n the premium cabin, Wi-Fi and more overall legroom per seat than any other 50-seat aircraft flown a US carrier.
There are also four storage closets that will mean customers will not need to routinely check carry-on at the gate.
The airline expects regional partner GoJet to begin operating the CRJ 550 in the second half of this year on select routes from Chicago, O’Hare followed by Newark/New York.
Billed as the world’s first triple class regional jet, the CRJ550 has a new type certificate based on the CRJ700.
Bombardier is pushing it as an attractive offering to replace North America’s fleet of aging 50-seat jets, eying a market of more than 700 aircraft.