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Update on our Airbus Reconfigurations (Seats, Entertainment, Channel 9, etc.)

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Update on our Airbus Reconfigurations (Seats, Entertainment, Channel 9, etc.)

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Old May 9, 13, 5:12 pm
  #1  
Company Representative, United Airlines
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Update on our Airbus Reconfigurations (Seats, Entertainment, Channel 9, etc.)

Hi Everyone,

As part of our continuing investment in our onboard product, we’re making a number of upgrades to the interiors of our Airbus A319 and A320 aircraft. We recently began a new phase of installations, so I wanted to take this opportunity to provide you some additional and consolidated information on the future of this fleet.

Our Airbuses will be getting a pretty substantial refresh, including:
  • New seats in United Economy and Economy Plus, which will result in an additional half-inch of headroom an almost a full inch of additional knee space on standard seats
  • 110v power outlets in United First and United Economy Plus
  • New, larger overhead bins
  • Wi-Fi throughout
  • On-demand streaming video for Wi-Fi-enabled devices
As you know, we’ve already begun installing the larger overhead bins and Wi-Fi on many of these aircraft. And within the next week, the first Airbus with new seats will go into service. We’re looking at getting streaming capability up and running later this year, with 110v power installations starting in 2014.

New seats
The new seats are manufactured by RECARO, and you may recognize the specific model from several European carriers, who feature it on many of their mainline narrow-body aircraft. However, because we fly our Airbuses over longer stage lengths than the typical intra-Europe segment, our version of the seat will have several upgraded comfort features over the base model. These include multi-directional headrests, added lumbar support, and a different seat bottom cushion with more padding and multiple layers of soft memory foam. The literature seat pocket has been moved higher, which facilitates the above increase in knee space, and there’s a new amenity pocket specifically for personal items.

As reported here and elsewhere, the new seats will allow us to increase the capacity of these aircraft, but without compromising personal space. Although all Airbuses will see an extra row in United Economy, we will also expand the Economy Plus cabin on all A319s and many A320s (the non-ex-Ted aircraft).

Entertainment
Along with Wi-Fi, the addition of on-demand streaming video will become the standard for our Airbus fleet. As a result, when these aircraft go in to have the new seats installed, the traditional audio/video system with dropdown monitors will be removed. However, these aircraft won’t “go dark”—Wi-Fi will be available on all aircraft that have the new seats. In any case, like Wi-Fi the streaming product will eventually have pricing attached to it, although we do plan to offer a limited range of complimentary content until we finalize these plans.

Channel 9
Finally, I wanted to touch on a topic I know many of you (and I!) hold dear—Channel 9. For the moment, the move to Wi-Fi and streaming entertainment also means that live air traffic control will no longer be available in the “Channel 9” format. However, we are actively exploring options to bring Channel 9 to Wi-Fi equipped aircraft. Moreover, we remain committed to this product across much of the rest of our fleet, including all international long-haul and p.s. aircraft featuring on-demand entertainment.

Look out for more information, including comparison diagrams and an article on the United Hub, once the first reconfigured aircraft goes into service. Still, I wanted to make sure you heard the consolidated story here first.

Aaron Goldberg
Sr. Manager – Customer Experience Planning
United Airlines
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Old May 9, 13, 5:25 pm
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Thanks, Aaron! Nice to know the RECARO seats will be several steps above the base model that we see on Euro carriers.
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Old May 9, 13, 5:31 pm
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Originally Posted by flyingmusicianlax View Post
Thanks, Aaron! Nice to know the RECARO seats will be several steps above the base model that we see on Euro carriers.
+1 My bum was so afraid about these new seats.

Originally Posted by UA Insider View Post

Entertainment
Along with Wi-Fi, the addition of on-demand streaming video will become the standard for our Airbus fleet. As a result, when these aircraft go in to have the new seats installed, the traditional audio/video system with dropdown monitors will be removed. However, these aircraft won’t “go dark”—Wi-Fi will be available on all aircraft that have the new seats. In any case, like Wi-Fi the streaming product will eventually have pricing attached to it, although we do plan to offer a limited range of complimentary content until we finalize these plans.
How will you show the safety videos? Also I hope that you keep atleast a few movies free and have streaming audio at the very least.

Thanks for the update!

Last edited by edcho; May 9, 13 at 5:36 pm
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Old May 9, 13, 5:32 pm
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The 319s have a scant eight first class seats. UA ought to add more. Will it?

Also, color me highly skeptical of the claim that more economy class seats are compatable with more legroom (or knee room).
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Old May 9, 13, 5:34 pm
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Great news- thanks for the update. Is there a timeframe in which you anticipate to complete the entire -319 and -320 fleet?
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Old May 9, 13, 5:53 pm
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Good to hear about the seats in Y. I've heard that closets are being eliminated from F, any truth to that rumor?

And please find a way to keep Channel 9!
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Old May 9, 13, 5:53 pm
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I like the ex-Ted A320 (leather) seats -- the older, cloth seats could use the update but I'm not optimistic about how the new seats will compare in terms of comfort.

Originally Posted by SAT Lawyer View Post
Also, color me highly skeptical of the claim that more economy class seats are compatable with more legroom (or knee room).
They're probably using slimmer seats. You can move seats closer together, but then shave off the thickness of the back of the seat, and still get the same (or better) knee-room. You do lose some of the legroom under the seat in front of you.
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Old May 9, 13, 5:54 pm
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The lack of non-wifi entertainment (and what appears to be a path to no free AV) is a downer. (as is the loss of CH9) Believe or not a significant portion of the traveling public does not have wi-fi AV device.

110VAC, new bins, wifi (for internet access)

new seats -- need to wait and see
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Old May 9, 13, 5:58 pm
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Update on our Airbus Reconfigurations

The loss of free audio/video (and without having to carry a personal device) is a negative.

Do not like.
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Old May 9, 13, 6:00 pm
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Originally Posted by SAT Lawyer View Post
The 319s have a scant eight first class seats. UA ought to add more. Will it?

Also, color me highly skeptical of the claim that more economy class seats are compatable with more legroom (or knee room).
The way that the image is shown at the manufact's site, it makes it seem like it's possible to have more leg room. I guess we'll find out though first hand.



Originally Posted by WineCountryUA View Post
The lack of non-wifi entertainment (and what appears to be a path to no free AV) is a downer. (as is the loss of CH9) Believe or not a significant portion of the traveling public does not have wi-fi AV device.

110VAC, new bins, wifi (for internet access)

new seats -- need to wait and see
Maybe they can launch (and make money on) a rent-a-ipad program or something.
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Old May 9, 13, 6:01 pm
  #11  
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So in what way are these new seats superior to the new Southwest "pack 'em in" seats known as [D]Evolve? WN made the same claim that an extra row could be jammed in yet knee space would be preserved. They are very uncomfortable seats.
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Old May 9, 13, 6:03 pm
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I look forward to hearing about the new seats... I wonder how different they are from the old CO bricks? Also, the wi-fi sounds good, but I see that anything free is being removed. IF you ever replace the Ch. 9 will it remain complimentary? (my guess is no answer to this). Why remove everything free??
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Old May 9, 13, 6:08 pm
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Originally Posted by FWAAA View Post
So in what way are these new seats superior to the new Southwest "pack 'em in" seats known as [D]Evolve? WN made the same claim that an extra row could be jammed in yet knee space would be preserved. They are very uncomfortable seats.
Those WN seats are unbelievably horrible. Knee space might be preserved on a technicality, but the rest of the seat space is noticeably reduced. It sounds as if these might be slightly upgraded seats (WN's don't have multi-directional headrests) from Devolve. If UA have gone to the logical end of informing us about the improvements to the seat one will hope they actually did thoughtfully consider these problems and aren't just messaging around it.
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Old May 9, 13, 6:09 pm
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Originally Posted by Antipode View Post
They're probably using slimmer seats. You can move seats closer together, but then shave off the thickness of the back of the seat, and still get the same (or better) knee-room. You do lose some of the legroom under the seat in front of you.
If so, I fear we're headed for a WN [D]Evolve redux.

WN made the same claim, and its new slimmer seats are cramped and uncomfortable.
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Old May 9, 13, 6:10 pm
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I won't miss the video (especially if it means I have to watch less Jeff videos) but the audio is a bit of a loss.

and...

to wifi

but...

I'm apprehensive of these seats - even with the extra padding. And hopefully nothing untoward happens to Row 7 leg room...
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