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United adding 1,600 high-end seats in a bid for more premium passengers

Key Points
  • United Airlines is expanding the number of premium seats in its fleet by 50 percent, adding 1,600 new high-end seats.
  • In expanding premium seating, United will change seating configurations for planes flown on both domestic and international routes. Here's a break down of the new seating configurations:

Flying the friendly skies of United Airlines in a bigger seat with more legroom will soon become easier.

The airline is expanding the number of premium seats in its fleet by 50 percent by adding 1,600 new high-end seats to its planes.

The upgrade in seating on many United planes is part of a push to win over more high-end passengers, people who pay to sit in a first class, business class or premium seats.

"We are committed to making United the airline that our customers choose to fly," Andrew Nocella, United's executive vice president and chief commercial officer, said in a release announcing the seating expansion.

In expanding premium seating, United will change seating configurations for planes flown on both domestic and international routes. Here's a break down of the new seating configurations:

  • All United Airbus A320 planes will go from 12 first class seats to 16.
  • All United Airbus A319 planes will have four additional first class seats, bringing the number to 12 in each plane.
  • On 21 of United's 767-300ER planes, the airline is expanding the number of Polaris business class seats from 30 to 46, while also adding 22 premium economy seats.
  • United is adding 50 Bombardier CRJ 550 planes to its fleet, each with 10 first class seats.

The new Bombardiers will enter service this summer and fly to and from United's hub in Chicago, connecting the airline's home market to smaller cities.

Nocella says that upgrade is a critical part of United rebuilding its service in small markets.

That strategy helped United post strong passenger revenue results last year, a key factor behind the company's shares outpacing the stock returns of its biggest competitors.