Topic of the Week: United Keeps First Class, At Least on Some Airplanes

It sounds like the new United is keeping First Class, but maybe only on the airplanes that already have it. Bloomberg reports that United has decided to keep First Class on some of its fleet but not all. So, is this a good move? Do they just want to avoid reconfiguring airplanes? Does it make sense? What do you think?

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33 Comments on "Topic of the Week: United Keeps First Class, At Least on Some Airplanes"

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Obviously
Guest

What did you think they were going to rip out the brand new BF seats on the CO fleet and reconfigure in 3-class? This isn’t even newsworthy. It’ll only matter what they do with new aircraft.

Hunter
Guest

Actually, that was a perfectly reasonable possibility. It’s a merger, which means they have to blend their products into something cohesive and consistent for the customer. Just because the CO seats are new, doesn’t mean they wouldn’t have scrapped the cabins and started over. Just as it was possible they’d reconfigure the UA aircraft (many with new seats, as well) into a two cabin configuration. The post exists to create discussion. If all you have to add is that it’s beneath you to participate, why did you even bother?

wyodog
Guest
Hey Cranky — Two things come to mind reading this: One, reminds me of standard UA: too many products, erratically presented, setting up the very things that Smisek wants to avoid: product confusion and disappointed premium passengers. Nothing worse than expecting a true lie-flat seat for your international flight and getting a cradle seat instead. Two, perhaps the new UA just wants to get caught up on work already in progress: a/c repaints, E+ on CO a/c, inflight services standardized. We all know how the old UA took decades to complete a livery change. I’m getting a sense there’s a… Read more »
Hunter
Guest

“We all know how the old UA took decades to complete a livery change.”

Did they ever actually complete one???

scott.wintner
Member

Touché.

XJT DX
Guest

“Nothing worse than expecting a true lie-flat seat for your international flight and getting a cradle seat instead.”

Both UA and CO configurations will be true lie-flat. I’m sure upgrades will continue across the entire widebody fleet, the only difference being 2 or 3 class.

Rob
Guest

I agree with wyodog. First class is great, but UA seems to like to keep things complicated. It just sets the airline up to disappoint premium customers during the inevitable aircraft swap in a mixed fleet. If they can make it work money-wise, then more power to ’em, but it seems like a big risk if it can’t be consiconsistent across the longhaul/wide-body fleet.

A
Guest
Unfortunately I haven’t had the problem of expecting a true 1st class seat and instead getting a business. However, flying Delta I get quite upset that there is such a huge difference of in flight ammenities across the fleet. At least all aircraft of a single type should be the same, instead some 757’s have PTV while others have old TV’s hanging from the ceiling. An airline should have only one difference in ammenities across their entire fleet – that’s domestic vs. international. Why do people like Southwest? You always know what you’re going to get. Anybody else it seems… Read more »
Drippy
Guest
For Delta’s 757s, you can almost always tell what type of 757 or any other aircraft you’re getting if you take just a minute or two to check. Besides, United isn’t going to randomly switch between two and three class aircraft – it will be in the schedule and planned out. Anyways, having more than one type of aircraft means that different routes can get different aircraft as needed (leisure markets won’t need first class, and nobody needs a PTV on a 70 minute flight) Also, with Southwest you do know what you’re getting – nothing. I doubt that’s why… Read more »
Nick Barnard
Member

Doesn’t Delta detail which IFE you’ll be getting on their website as you book?

David SF eastbay
Member
No big deal as other airlines already do this with their fleet. Some planes have 3-cabins and some two. And with codesharing even in the same alliance you will bet different products no matter which ‘code’ you book and which airline really operates the flight. Plus an airline can have eight flights between two cities operated by 1, 2, or cabin aircraft, so again no big deal. But the issue for some would be the same type aircraft having different layouts and passengers being in the front cabin on the outbound and now find themselves in the middle cabin with… Read more »
David SF eastbay
Member

Sorry the -3- didn’t make it to the original post. It should say……

“………operated by 1, 2, or 3 cabin aircraft,

Craig
Guest
This move makes sense. There are just way too many international destinations that just don’t have the demand for paid first class seats needed to justify three-class service, but moving solely to two-class service on the routes that can support first class would leave a lot of money on the table or drive business to the remaining three-class carriers. By maintaining a three-class subfleet, the new United should be able to attract first-class buyers in destinations like London while having a broader fleet that can support flights to lower-margin destinations like Madrid. Pre-merger United saw that its three-class fleet wouldn’t… Read more »
Scott
Guest

You hit on something with the codeshares… with these new JVs, what really annoys me is that JV partners offer such different products despite selling their flights as metal-neutral. If these JVs are going to function as one airline in the JV markets they serve, then they would be well-advised to standardize their onboard product… as well as policies (the latter we are starting to see them do).

David SF eastbay
Member
Look at DL/AF. DL uses 2-cabin and AF 3-cabin. DL markets it as Business (J/C) and coach and AF First(P/F)/Business(J/C)/coach. If you book the flight as DL (J/C) but the flight is operated by AF, you are not sitting in the front cabin like you would on a DL operated aircraft, but in business on AF. So is DL’s front cabin service the same as AF’s second (business) cabin service? Since each airline is different, using codeshare partners doesn’t always mean the same service inside the airplane. So if it really matters, you need to really check everything out before… Read more »
Allan
Guest

Before the new United does anything else it should fix economy in the old United’s 747’s. The product is horrible.

Drippy
Guest

Does anyone know if United is going to get rid of the 747s anytime soon? Delta is removing some of them from NW but keeping a few as well. I have found CO’s aircraft much more comfortable anyways.

tharanga
Guest

i thought Smisek specifically mentioned Economy on the 747s as being woeful, at the time of the merger. which you’d think would indicate a priority to do something about it.

bethany.rogers
Member

ugh….as a United customer it’s a pain to have to pay attention to which equipment they are using in the current fleet. I agree with XJT DX – they mix equipment on current routes so if you’re not paying attention you may end up with a recliner instead of a flat bed.

As those in the know: is there a fare difference for business on a 2 vs. 3 class plane? It would be terrible to be forced by a company travel policy into the worse equipment in order to save a few bucks…

bethany.rogers
Member

(oops….that was supposed to be “For those in the know:”)

David SF eastbay
Member

If they keep all the same aircraft types the same and in the same markets (domestic vs international) it shouldn’t be bad. With AA internationally if its a 763/757 you know its 2-cabin, and a 777 3-cabin.

Scott
Guest
What I find interesting is that there has become such little differentiation between first and business these days — in particular on the two U.S. carriers (UA/AA). On LH, by contrast, there’s a HUGE difference between C and F — from the service on the ground through the flight and at the destination. Meanwhile, many foreign flag carriers that moved to a mostly 2-class config a while back (AF, AZ, VS, etc.) did so only to later roll-out a “premium economy” option, which really makes them a three-class cabin again. If you look back in history, you’ll notice that today’s… Read more »
jeffreysofhawaii
Member

Personally I don’t see the need for a three class airline. If I want to upgrade on a short or middle range trip OK, business class. If I had the big bucks to spend on First Class, it would be on a long international flight, and I clearly would not spend it in United when others (asian or middle east) airlines do first class so much better. Remove first class, offer a few more Business seats to make the frequent fliers happy, and keep it at that.

matt weber
Guest
I don’t see any reason to offer a domestic F product. It no longer provides any premium cabin revenue, and as a result, the carriers don’t spend any money to make it into a true premium product. (Consider this fact: WN’s RPM Yield is often higher than UA, AA or DL’s, and WN has NO premium cabin!) US flag carriers also have a problem with International F. Generally neither the cabin is largely filled with people who haven’t actually paid an A or an F fare, and the product tends to be inferior to the F product on the beter… Read more »
JD
Guest

Correction: AF now has FOUR Classes (At least on the 777’s doing longhaul to the USA): First, Business, Premium Economy and Economy. (And the Premium Economy product IS a seperate Cabin with different seats). I believe the food is the same however, just served on different china; that’s a dissapointment considering the “Premium” in the fare for that Cabin.

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