It Exists: The Continental...err United... 767 & the 'new' BusinessFirst Seat

Last week I was flying from out of Houston and decided to use a soon to be expired Confirmed Regional Upgrade Region 1...err Premier Regional Upgrade I think they're called now... to upgrade my flight since I was scheduled to be on a 767. The plane was a former Continental aircraft with what I assumed to be the (early?) 90s-era BusinessFirst seat. While these seats are comfy enough, they are not as nice as either of the United Business or new Continental Businessfirst seat. However, I actively avoid these older when looking to book premium awards to Europe because there is just better hard products out there....which makes things tough as it seems like most of United's flights to Europe out of Houston that I'm interested in are on the 767.

Well much to my surprise as I checked in for this flight, I saw on the seatmap little icons showing the lie-flat seats. I had heard that they had started refurbing the BusinessFirst cabins on these former Continental flights but now it was a reality for me today on my flight.

Upon boarding the flight attendant greeting the plane was talking about how this was the new refurbished cabin. Indeed it was nice. In general I am a fan of the Continental BusinessFirst seat. I find it nicer than the United Business seat but not as nice as the United Global First seat. (Hey I just feel lucky to be in any other above!) I'll give you a look at some of the pictures. I am not sure when all the 767 former Continental planes will have these new seats but it can't happen fast enough if you ask me! I think that I read somewhere that all the Continental 767s that will be done will be done by the end of 2012 but this might very well be incorrect.

Incidently it almost seemed like the newly outfitted plane motivated the Flight Attendants to give great service. It seemed like they were serving passengers drinks etc for nearly the whole flight and not just the first third (followed by the all too often disappearing act for the rest of the flight).

These are some of the pictures I was able to get of the cabin. I used my mobile phone to take them, so the quality and light may not be the best.

When traveling alone, the center seat can not be beat.







There are 16 CO 764-ER aircraft. Of those, 4 are reserved for Hawaii service in a high-density configuration, and so far, none of those aircraft have the new seats and E+.

As for the other 16, which are used for international routes, 6 have the new seats up front and in the back (all new seats and IFE throughout the plane, with a new E+ section in the back), 2 are at HKG for the modifications right now (so they're not in service), and 4 are in service with the old configuration.

That means your odds of getting the new configuration on a non-Hawaii 764 operated flight right now are better than they are of getting the old configuration. There are only 10 aircraft in service at the moment for non-Hawaii routes, 6/10 are the new configuration, and 4/10 are the old. In the near future those numbers will shift to 8/10 new and 2/10 old once the two aircraft at HKG are returned to service and two more go in for modifications.

So, yes, they are very much on target to having the 16 non-Hawaii 764s in the new configuration by year-end, if not sooner.

The CO 762 fleet is slowly being retired, so no changes to those planes, but that's a small fleet that's only shrinking at this point.

I was on the new 764 config a couple weeks ago to Rio and back (in coach) and very much enjoyed the seats and the IFE. I had a bulkhead (16A) in one direction and a regular E+ seat the other. Both had plenty of space; great to sleep in.

The IFE upgrade is quite impressive as well. Strong selection across eras and USB-powered charging option right from the screen, in addition to the 110V power outlets at the seats.

A great upgrade and one which should be complete fleet-wide in just a couple months now.

I flew the 764 last night to Rome UA40 EWR-FCO with the new BizFirst config. Seats seem narrower than the 777s and 757s, though maybe it's just me. That said, sleeping was a dream! I flew that route two weeks ago in the old BizFirst seats with the old IFE and this is SOOOO much better.