United adding premium seats throughout fleet

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United's reconfigured 767-300ERs will have Premium Plus seats.
United's reconfigured 767-300ERs will have Premium Plus seats.

United Airlines said it will add more than 1,600 seats in first and business class as the airline introduces or reconfigures nearly 250 aircraft.

United is retrofitting portions of its single-aisle and widebody fleets and will begin taking delivery of 50-seat Bombardier CRJ 550 regional aircraft with a first-class cabin.

United is the launch customer for the CRJ550, which will be 18-feet longer than the carrier's existing 50-seat aircraft. The two-class aircraft will feature 10 United First seats, 20 Economy Plus seats and 20 economy seats. That compares with the four Economy Plus seats and 46 Economy seats that United offers on its existing regional fleet.

The CRJ550s will offer a self-serve beverage and snack station in the first-class cabin.

United expects that regional partner GoJet will begin flying the first of 50 ordered CRJ550s during the second half of this year. Those flights will be flown under the United Express brand.

The carrier did not reveal the space between rows, or pitch, for the various seats on the new regional jet.

United will first use them on flights out of its Chicago O'Hare hub and will follow with flights from its Newark hub.

United will also retrofit Boeing 767 widebodies and Airbus A320 and A319 planes to offer more premium seats.

The carrier expects to introduce the first of 21 reconfigured 767-300ERs in the next several weeks. The planes will offer 46 United Polaris business-class seats, up from the current 30. The two-cabin aircraft also will have 22 premium economy seats, which the airline calls Premium Plus. They'll be laid out in a staggered six-across formation. Further back in the main cabin will be 47 Economy Plus seats and 52 economy seats laid-out seven abreast.

The total seat count for the planes will be 167, down from 214 in the current configuration.

United will operate the reconfigured 767s on its Newark-London route, and expects to have all 21 in service by the end of 2020.

Introduction of the first of nearly 100 reconfigured A320s is slated to begin early next year. The aircraft will have a first-class cabin of 16 seats, up from the current 12. The total seat count will remain the same at 150.

United expects to begin flying retrofitted Airbus A319s early this fall. They'll have 12 United First seats, up from the current eight. Total seat count on those aircraft will drop from 128 to 126 as United removes one row of Economy Plus seats.

United did not reveal the pitch for the various seats in the retrofitted jets, nor did it say whether the various classes will offer more, less or the same amount of pitch as existing United aircraft.

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