United Airlines Is Making These Major Seating Changes for Future Flights
You might have already noticed some updates, but more are on the way.
Airplane seating is a hot topic of discussion, and controversial booking strategies have even stirred up debate on social media. For the most part, people prefer the aisle or the window seat—and not the dreaded middle—and spots with extra legroom or bells and whistles are even more coveted. United Airlines offers different seating and booking options, allowing you to choose an experience you can afford and enjoy. But now, the airline announced seating changes and amenity upgrades, which will be put in place this year. Read on to find out what you can expect to see on future flights.
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The airline said that 100 planes will be updated in 2023.
In a Dec. 2022 press release, United said it's continuing "its unprecedented effort to upgrade the interiors of its existing fleet," noting that United Polaris business class seats and United Premium Plus seating were added to its international planes. However, plans for domestic aircraft are a bit different.
"United also will retrofit 100% of its mainline, narrow-body planes with its signature interior," the press release reads. "About 100 aircraft are scheduled to be completed in 2023 with the remaining expected to be completed by the end of 2025."
Citing a "United Airlines tipster," travel site View from the Wing reports that United will actually be retrofitting about 175 planes this year. The goal is ambitious, the outlet reported, but the tipster noted that United plans to move through the process quickly.
Changes include additional seating and tech improvements.
Per View from the Wing, domestic, narrow-body planes (those with one passenger aisle) will soon have additional premium seats, seat-back entertainment screens (which can connect to your headphones using Bluetooth), larger overhead bins, and improved WiFi. With these changes, United will be more in line with its competitors, Delta Air Lines and American Airlines, both of which offer in-flight WiFi. Delta ups the ante, as it already has seat-back screens on aircraft, the outlet reported.
United also discussed some updates in a recent issue of its Hemispheres magazine. A photo of an article was posted on Twitter, which explains that the airline is introducing "innovative technology to every seat" with "the next generation of United."
"We are in the process of enhancing the interior of every United aircraft," the article reads. In addition to the changes pointed out by View from the Wing, by 2025, narrow-body Airbus planes will have "refreshed lavatories" and "luxurious interior features," per the Hemispheres article. It also suggests that the new seating will be added to United First, a premium cabin available on domestic flights.
Planes will have "mood lighting," too.
United's website suggests that even more "exciting changes" are in store. The airline states that updated aircraft interiors will also boast more in-seat power outlets, new carpeting, and mood lighting—in addition to the expanded overhead bins, WiFi, and private seat-back screens.
Best Life reached out to United for more information on retrofitting plans but has yet to hear back.
Upgrades are part of a larger initiative.
According to View from the Wing, these changes were first announced in Sept. 2021, as part of a plan called United Next. The expansion effort included the purchase of 270 new planes and the creation of 25,000 jobs, the airline said at the time, per The New York Times.
But after a little over a year, plans are just now starting to take shape. In Dec. 2022, the airline confirmed that it's ordering 200 new wide-body Boeing planes (those with two passenger aisles)—stating that it was the largest sale ever for a U.S. carrier. An additional 56 narrow-body planes will be ordered as well, with the option to add 44 more, the airline said.
"United emerged from the pandemic as the world's leading global airline and the flag carrier of the United States," United CEO Scott Kirby said in the Dec. 2022 press release. "This order further solidifies our lead and creates new opportunities for our customers, employees and shareholders by accelerating our plan to connect more people to more places around the globe and deliver the best experience in the sky."