In August 2011, we learned from then UA Insider, Scott O'Leary, that the combined carrier would perform a nose-tail renovation on the Boeing 757-200s used for United's p.s. service from New York/JFK to LAX & SFO. United had big plans for the renovation, which included gutting the first and business class cabins in favor of the Continental business class seat. In the main cabin, all seats would feature USB and 110v power outlets, as well as complimentary in-set AVOD.
To many of us, the news that United would be removing first class from p.s. was disappointing, though in line with other decisions from the carrier, many of which were not surprising, considering they were coming from an operations team that was almost all from Continental.
Now that we are a month into 2013, the new UA Insider, Aaron Goldberg, has announced some important changes to p.s. flights, the biggest being the end of all first class service on p.s. flights, regardless of the aircraft configuration, starting June 6th.
By the summer, we expect to have already reconfigured several B757 aircraft. However, in order to minimize the impact of unexpected substitutions, we will only sell p.s. flights as 2-cabin. We will update our systems this weekend to reflect this change.
On the upside, the first class seats will be available to any Global Services, 1K, Platinum, or Gold elites already confirmed in business class. Silver elites will be able to select any remaining first class seats during the check-in process.
How to tell if you’re on a newly configured aircraft.
The best way to know is to look at the seat map on united.com, which would show 28 seats in United Business. However, keep in mind this is always subject to change. Also worth noting, seat maps will generally reflect the older configuration until a few months before departure, when we start to have a better idea of what kind of aircraft will be scheduled for a specific flight.
Surprisingly, United will keep the JFK first class lounge open, even after June 6th. All Global Services customers in business class, as well as connecting international first class passengers will be able to relax in the IFL. Aaron did note that they will share more information about the future of their JFK lounges later in 2013.
Overall, I am still disappointed with the removal of first class on the p.s. fleet. Before Continental came along, p.s. first class was a great experience, and one of the best ways to fly coast to coast. Years later, it faced downgrades in service, as well as a deterioriating product that the airline did not properly maintain.
I have flown p.s. first class one time, and may try to fly it one more time before June 6th. After that, any first class flights I take will be on American, as they plan to introduce a brand-new first and business class product on their transcon routes, which will be flown by soon to be delivered Airbus A321s.
What are your thoughts about the reconfiguration? Will you continue to fly United once the cabin is updated, or will you turn other carriers, such as American or Delta for their business class products?