Why United Can’t Use Its Own 757s to Fly to Europe

757, Continental, United

It was just announced that the new United will start flying 757s from Washington to Europe for the first time when it adds a second daily flight to Paris. This has a lot of people wondering why United never bothered doing this before. After all, pre-merger United had around 100 of those airplanes and never flew them over the Atlantic. It’s actually because not all 757s are created the same, and United simply didn’t want to invest in making its airplanes worthy of flying across the Pond. With Continental management in charge, this will certainly change.

United vs Continental 757

The new plan has a Continental 757 starting that second daily Dulles-Paris flight on June 9. During the leaner off-peak season, the Washington-Amsterdam flight will become a 757 (Sep 1) and the first daily flight to Paris will also go on a 757 (Sep 29). Some United widebodies will move up to Newark for a couple flights to balance things out. Pre-merger United passengers are probably dreading this move, but they shouldn’t. The onboard experience on a Continental 757 is nothing like a United 757.

By this summer, every Continental 757 will have the same flat beds in business class that Continental is installing on its widebody fleet. There will be 16 of those and 159 coach seats, all of which have full audio/video on demand and power ports that don’t require an adapter. In other words, the seat experience on these airplanes is better than what you’ll find on United except for the lack of Economy Plus.

The 757 is a great airplane for the North Atlantic for a couple reasons. First, it allows airlines to fly more frequently between cities that can’t support multiple flights on a widebody. Washington to Paris is a perfect example. Right now, that’s flown once a day with a 777 that has (or will have once the flat beds are installed) 48 Business and First class seats along with 221 in coach. Now, the airline will be able to run two 757s which combined have 32 Business and 318 seats in coach. This is great for markets with less premium cabin demand that could potentially be boosted by having more frequency. In this case, it helps to compete with Air France’s double daily flights.

Second, this airplane is great for opening up markets that don’t have enough demand to support even one widebody. Continental has been able to fly routes like Newark to Hamburg because of this airplane.

So why didn’t United bother doing this before? The answer? It was too cheap to do it. Maybe that’s not fair. I’m sure somebody did a cost-benefit analysis. They just came to different conclusions than the Continental folks. Here’s the difference.

Aircraft Maximum Takeoff Weight
Continental ordered its 757s with a maximum takeoff weight of 255,000 pounds while United’s are only 240,000. Why does this matter? Because Continental can pack on an additional 15,000 pounds of fuel over a United airplane with a similar passenger load. And you need that fuel to get across the Pond. Could United have changed this? Yes. It’s my understanding that a higher weight is a paperwork issue. They would have had to pay to have the plane re-certified but that’s all they’d have to do. There’s another cost here. Airports base landing fees on max takeoff weight, so better need that extra weight if you’re going to bother having it.

Engine Thrust
Continental has Rolls Royce RB211-535 engines with 42,540 pounds of thrust. United has Pratt & Whitney PW2037 engines on its birds with 37,000 pounds of thrust. More thrust is a good thing, and United doesn’t have it. Now, United could upgrade its engines to PW2040 or PW2043 engines with more thrust with ease, but it chose not to do so. Again, the airline didn’t want to pay for what’s an easy technical upgrade.

Crew Rest
This might be the stickiest area. FAA rules require a relief pilot on flights over 8 hours and the westbound flights tend to be over that amount thanks to headwinds. But each airline has a different contract with its pilots stating what facilities are required for crew rest. For Continental, I believe it’s just a blocked biz class seat on a 757 for pilots. Flight attendants also have their own requirements. United’s union contracts tend to provide more, but I don’t believe the 757 is addressed directly right now. So, there would have to be some negotiation on what a rest facility on the 757 would look like, and it’s unclear how difficult that may or may not be. This will undoubtedly be one of the areas of discussion on the new combined pilot contract.

So that’s why United’s 757s don’t fly over the Pond and Continental’s do. I would assume we’re going to see more of this from Washington as time goes by because it’s something that Continental has used very successfully from Newark over the years.

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84 comments on “Why United Can’t Use Its Own 757s to Fly to Europe

  1. >> In other words, the seat experience on these airplanes
    >> is better than what you’ll find on United except for the
    >> lack of Economy Plus.

    In other words, much worse in the only area that I care about on a redeye?

    1. “except for the lack of Economy Plus”

      Agreed! – sorry, this is a downgrade no matter what – for a US=>Europe red-eye, its really all about personal space (not a might-work,fancy AV system). Give me a run-down, tired-looking UA 757 any day over a cramped CO coach seat on a 6-7 hour flight. Not all Premier Execs fly Biz Class to Europe these days.

  2. Cranky, as a DC resident, I always wondered why UA didn’t fly its 757s trans-Atlantic when CO was doing it out of EWR and US was doing it out of PHL. Thanks for the clarification! Articles like this are why I love your blog.

    As for the service, I suppose the E+ issue will be resolved in due time, but on international trips, it’s all about the power ports. So, indeed, the 757 is an upgrade in that sense!

    Also, did you see the Boeing announcement regarding the newest 747? Can’t wait for your take on that…

    1. Not much to say on the 747-8. Boeing doesn’t think there’s a big market for a huge airplane so it just extended the 747 again. I don’t think it’s going to be a big seller because most airlines are happier with the 777-300ER.

      1. Hope you’re wrong about that, Cranky. Filling an A380 every day of the year isn’t a snap on most routes, especially where frequency is what the market wants. The 747-8 fits in nicely between the whale and the 777. I think when it’s seen in the flesh by carriers waiting in the wings, more orders will materialize. And one assumes it shares many features with the 747-400, meaning that airport handling, maintenance and crew training are less of a hurdle … the A380 is a quantum leap, starting with the need for upper-deck jetways. And by the way, thanks for the excellent 757 piece. But you didn’t mention that AA and DL also operate it across the pond.

        1. That is true that the 747-8 is a lot easier to bring into the fleet for airlines that already have 747s. But the thing is that the A380 isn’t selling very well either. There just isn’t a market for huge airplanes except on the most crowded city pairs. The 777-300ER and soon the A350 will be the best sellers for the large, long haul market. The smaller A350 and the 787 will handle the smaller market. Boeing was smart for not putting a ton into a project for a larger airplane like the A380. The 747-8 will probably pay for itself, I’d bet, because it wasn’t such a huge investment.

          1. The A380 is a stunning plane. I suspect that as long as Emirates and Etihad keep buying them the way they have been, then Airbus probably won’t give a monkeys about the 747-8.

  3. I remember reading a few years back that CO occasionally had unscheduled fuel stops on the west-bounds from TXL somewhere in Canada. Is this still an issue?

    This might be more profitable, but I will gladly fly a connection through FRA over being stuck in coach on a narrow-body with no E+. Ugh.

    1. I know there were some issues with westbound fuel stops in the winter on the longer routes. That Berlin flight definitely pushes the range of the airplane. Not sure how much of a problem that is today, but I doubt it went away.

  4. Agree with Dave that the lack of E+ on the aircraft is a major downside. Being over 6 feet, this makes all the difference. I agree that I would probably connect through FRA/MUC or LHR (BRU?) now to save my sanity.

    Just waiting for the stampede away from UAL when they drop E+….

    1. Eh, I can’t bring myself to care. You end up paying for it one way or another (not even an exit row really satisfies me; can’t fall asleep so give me something to do while I wait for the plane to get there, please), and given two E- I definitely prefer CO’s after flying both trans-Pacific.

  5. UA widebody’s going to EWR and CO narrowbody’s move to IAD. Will IAD now become the narrowbody step-sister to a more widebodied EWR in terms of transatlantic service as time rolls on?

    1. Well, Dulles is further from Europe than Newark so that hurts the number of cities that can be served. I think we’ll see a healthy mix in both places.

  6. “In other words, the seat experience on these airplanes is better than what you’ll find on United except for the lack of Economy Plus”

    That might be true, but as a passenger in the back of the bus it’s simply a slightly smaller degree of bad compared to the UA 757s and still a significantly larger degree of bad compared to CO’s widebody jets.

  7. “In other words, the seat experience on these airplanes is better than what you’ll find on United except for the lack of Economy Plus.”

    In other words, for people like me who care about leg room first this is a terrible change (until/unless they introduce E+ on CO birds). I’ve said in before and I’ll say it again: I can easily carry on my own IFE and do it (fully loaded iPad with movies/TV shows of my choosing) even if the airline has in-seat AVOD. But I have yet to find a way to carry on more leg room.

    1. It is a one hit wonder, but instead of your own IFE, you put in for a miles + money (I know they do this on United, not sure about CO) upgrade to BusinessFirst and pray you get it. Doesn’t help much after that first flight though.

  8. CASM on even a late model, ETOPS, wingleted 757 is very high compared to other twins crossing the atlantic…so it will only work on very high yield markets…as nwa found out the hard way….

    1. NWA was in a different boat for a couple reasons. One big one is that flying from NW hubs to Europe was a much greater distance than from the east coast. The further you go, the more challenging a route becomes, especially when it pushes up on the airplane’s range. (And other attempts, like Hartford-Amsterdam were really thin efforts anyway.)

      The reality is that the 757 can often pay for itself by providing the right level of capacity for a route. It might mean the difference between no nonstop service and one daily flight. Continental and others have proven that it works. If you can fill a 767 or 777, then you probably don’t want the 757, but it’s a great airplane to fill in the gap.

    1. Of course they will be retired in the near future, but the question becomes, what will replace them? 737-900ER and the 321 are really the only planes that are in the -200 market.

    2. They are getting up there in age so they’ll likely be at the top of the list for retirement when the time comes. The A321 is a non-starter as a replacement. It can’t make Hawai’i and it can’t make Europe. The A321neo might make Hawai’i but I don’t think it’ll make Europe either. The 737 is probably going to be the replacement for Hawai’i narrowbody flying – Continental has already started putting those are west coast-Hawai’i markets. Really, it’s the Transatlantic markets that have no replacement today or in the foreseeable future. But if all other 757s can be replaced, then you need a smaller fleet. It’s like at US Airways where a ton of 757s were retired and now the only ones left are the ones that do Hawai’i and Europe.

  9. Of late, United was the most profitable of the big 5, and while it may not be only because they didn’t fly narrowbodies over the pond, I’m sure it helped. I really don’t like where the new United/Continental with new name is headed, between livery, interior indecision, crappy management, and more, I see United headed downhill. As for E+, I plan on flying exclusively on N###UA planes, and I really like what Delta has done with comfort economy, because that all but guarantees E+ on the new United.

  10. Let’s not get caught up on the Economy Plus issue here. The new United will either have it or it won’t and we’ll know in due time. So the fact that the 757 doesn’t have it now and the 767/777/747s do is just temporary. Either they’ll all have it or they won’t.

    1. I’m well aware of that, but it won’t happen overnight, so if we lose E+ it will remain on many UA planes for the next few years. If CO goes with it, as I think they will, it will take some time for CO planes to get it.

      1. You know removing E+ is probably a faster thing to do than you’d think. I’d gamble that they can do this on a well planned overnight maintenance, especially if the plane doesn’t have IFE

      2. I’m with Nick. I think it will happen very quickly if it’s kept. It just means taking out a row of seats and spreading out others. It can be done very quickly.

        1. Can it be done very quickly? Yes.
          Will it be done very quickly? No.
          Just like they could repaint all the CO planes in the “new” livery in a month or two if they wanted, it will take a year or more. Same goes for E+.

  11. Sigh. Of course United will do this, it’s Continental’s management, now, saving money on the hard product. While it may be true that old United was too ‘cheap,’ I would instead prefer to believe that they sustained increasingly unfavorable operational economics simply to uphold an antiquated ideal of not flying single aisle internationally, unless it be to Canada or Mexico. United was committed to being a 3-Class (4 if including E+) airline, and that usually means larger planes. CO’s new business product is nice, but it’s no First Suite.

    1. Honestly, I don’t see them using the UA 757s for trans Atlantic flights. As was said, they will need to be re-certified, get new engines, and pull them out of service on the domestic market, for which they are the backbone. I know the new management comes into UA with some different views on a lot of issues, but there is a method to United’s ways, and I am sure that won’t go unnoticed.

  12. Can’t agree with you, Cranky – the CO 757’s are toss to fly across the Atlantic in. Now I have to avoid them AND the UA 747’s when booking. Might be swimming across soon….

    1. I’m not positive, but I am pretty sure that the only year round 747 service across the Atlantic is SFO-FRA, everything else is being served by the 767s, and the 777s hopping the pond are often new ones.

      1. Booking a 1-hop to YYZ from London, I nearly got caught out and booked the 747 flight to ORD. I agree, the triple 7’s are mostly a nice ride, and E+ in the reconfigured 777 was ok. AVOD still a waste of time though.

        1. 777s best improvement in the back of the bus is power. When I was flying Business from DEN-SIN and back, they had a pretty good selection of stuff, although I was annoyed that they would only have an episode or two from the middle of one season of some show.

  13. You should raise the difference in philopshy the carriers had previously. UA focused on ‘trunk’ routes and get to the local partners. In Europe UA had LH and hence it wanted to get passengers to FRA, etc. Then allow LH to take them to their final destination. This is different than CO. CO wanted to take you direct to cities like MAN, EDI, etc. Places that could not fill a 3-class aircraft by themselves. Making a 757 3-class is not profitable on many routes. You want 2-class to make it work across the pond. UA wanted consistency in the international product using 3-class solutions. CO did this by having a single 2-class model. Now a (new CO+UA) UA passenger is going to have to understand what type of plane they are flying to understand the service they will get (ie CO business on a 2-class plane or UA business on a 3-class plane) or not.

    1. Right, but I still don’t think they will be deploying any more 757s over the Atlantic. The UA/CO routes are basically complimentary, and there is no reason to fix something that isn’t broken. They should keep the big boys headed to MUC, BRU, LHR, CDG, FRA, AMS, and then the babies can go to all the smaller airports that serve as direct destinations.
      I am still undecided as to wether CO will go 3 class on their int’l, I would like to see it, because listening to UA financial calls it seems like those are a big profit center, whereas the BF is not so much. Looking at pictures it appears as though United Business is as good, if not better, than CO BF, so they can have 3 classes (and E+) of service, 757s have E, B, widebodies have E, B, F. Problem solved.

    2. It’s funny, Kevin, because that’s the opposite of UA’s strategy in Asia. Over there, Northwest funneled everything through Narita but United slowly went away from that strategy and began overflying it. But yes, you’re right. And the long history of the joint venture with Lufthansa made them more interested in sending people on to Lufthansa flights since they split the revenue.

      Great points about 3 cabin vs 2 cabin as well. I agree that 3 cabin doesn’t work on a 757 and it will have to be 2 cabin. I don’t think that’s really that big of a deal personally. If you don’t have First Class, then you can offer the First Class flier a choice of going in biz or connecting over Frankfurt . It’s not that hard to display. And the CO/UA biz products are relatively close, at least they will be once the retrofit is done. I’ll be curious to see if they continue with the retrofit as they have been or if they’ll standardize all future biz class installs with a single seat type.

      It does remain to be seen what happens with First Class, but I bet we’ll see a hybrid. I bet we’ll see some airplanes with First Class and some without.

  14. I’m not that big of a guy, 175lb, but UA C seat in lie down mode is too narrow to be comfortable in unless I’m on my side.
    And if UA gets rid of E+, I’m going elsewhere too.

    1. Where would you go? Delta is the only one who will start to offer a competitor, and that is international only, and you have to pay for it. I have grown accustomed to E+, but unfortunately on a mileage run from Denver to Australia that was booked a month in advance, E+ didn’t have two seats next to each other, so I was in economy, and I didn’t mind that. But I am only 6′, 165.

  15. Don’t forget that the airplanes also need to be retrofitted with the larger “septic-type” tanks to accommodate the toilets, etc. As well as increased galley storage, etc., since the trans-Atlantic flights would have two meal services…plus carrying the inventory of the lucrative duty-free merchandise which is sold on-board. Meaning…it all adds more weight to the aircraft besides just the added fuel.

  16. Sorry, I am caught up in the E+ issue. Ecomomy without E+ doen’t work for me.

    Now, if UA wants to upgrade me to business 95 percent of the time, OK, otherwise, forget it.

    Of course, are we that far off from UA and everyone else deciding that for economic reasons, they will expand the domestic “operated by” RJ folly to international? Flight crew and plane provided by Amalgamated Aircraft Holding LLC. subsidiary of Wells Fargo Transportation Providers, Inc. or other some such nonsense! Heaven help us!

    1. You’re forgetting that United has already outsourced its Transatlantic flying! It had Aer Lingus fly the Dulles-Madrid trip. It wasn’t a regional jet, but it was outsourced. I’m guessing that practice will end under new management.

  17. Could it be that the original decision to use 757s for transatlantic flying by Continental and not United had something to do with the fact that Newark is a bit closer to Europe than Washington, and can also support a larger number of small destinations in Europe?

    Also, why do people get so excited about whether the plane is single-aisle or twin-aisle? The seats are usually about the same. The 767 has a bit more head clearance than the single-aisle tubes, but not by much. What seems strange is that with the end of production for both the 757 and the 767-200, there are no planes on the market in the 200-seat category. One would think there would be some demand for that size.

    1. A321 is about the same size as a 757-200, maybe slightly smaller. But I don’t think it has quite the range capabilities, so I don’t know if it could pull of a transatlantic run. There’s also the Tupolev Tu-204, if someone wanted to get creative.

    2. I’m actually with you, Ron, but this gets a lot of people worked up. I like the feel of being on a widebody, but it’s not that much different versus a 757 in my mind. I certainly wouldn’t go out of my way to avoid a 757 just because it has a single aisle. What really matters is what product is onboard the airplane.

  18. 1. I don’t know what the 757 offers to airlines. For passengers, it is merely a stretched 737. 2. I would NEVER want to be on a single aisle aircraft on very long (international) flights. Try to go to the lavatory or to walk a bit when the only aisle is blocked by serving carts.

    1. All the airlines I know would have carts in both aisles during a service mirroring each other so this point of yours is not valid. One aisle or two aisles really doesn’t stop the problem of carts in the aisles during a service.

  19. As a San Francisco resident who has relied upon Continental for my two or three international flights each year in coach since 2000, I must say westbound transatlantic trips aboard 757 and 737 tandems, without a night in which to sleep away the discomfort aided by prescription sleeping medications, are dreadful. The single aisle issue is well stated by Mr. Mandel (supra). Fifteen or more hours in this environment begs the issue, among many, of the disadvantages with which the traveler must now brook in order to support dwindling competition aloft. If Economy Plus is eliminated, I will look to foreign carrier non-stops where fewer hours in flight and considerably more civility may be had.

  20. I didn’t realize that UA’s birds were not as powerful as CO’s, including weights. Although aren’t some of UA’s flights to hawai’i a bit longer than some transatlantic flights? I assumed with ETOPS on almost the entire UA 757 fleet they’d be able to do transatlantic…

    1. Nope. LAX-Honolulu, for example, is over 1,000 miles shorter than Dulles-London. Even Denver-Honolulu is shorter. So it’s a whole different story.

  21. Oh, boy another flight in that market? Now OpenSkies will never be able to achieve the margins they need to make that route successful.

  22. Continental is fine in premium cabin but is dreadful in Economy. Myself I’ll only fly a 757 if it is significantly cheaper than a larger plane–I’d sacrifice comfort for savings. I’ve flown CO transatlantic on the 757 in coach and would only do it again reluctantly. IAD is a great place to connect to an international flight…much better than delay prone EWR. It appears Continental is intent on ruining that too.

  23. The 757 is a fairly attractive airplane to fly across the pond if you have a configuration that can fly the mission (which CO has and UA doesn’t).
    Fuel burn is essentially directly proportional to weight, and the 757 has a far lower dead weight per seat than any widebody, so the direct operating costs for the 757 (especially with winglets) on the pond tend to be pretty attractive relative to a 767, 777, A330 or 747. The dead weight per seat on the 757 is about 20% lower than it is for a 767-300ER.

    UA has a long reputation for only buying airplanes based upon the planned mission, without any potential growth potential. That is why B6 (Jet Blue ) can fly A320’s transcon, and UA cannot. Like the 757, UA didn’t buy enough MGTOW or big enough engines for the transcon mission. And since UA has been positive allergic to capital investments for a long time, they never paid for the paperwork upgrade on either the engines or the MGTOW. (Actually it is a little more than paperwork, but no physical changes to either the aircraft or engines for either the A320 or 757 upgrade).

    As for the economy cabin, the unpleasant realtiy is a very large portion of the economy cabin traffic is based entirely price, so the aircraft with the lowest direct operating cost is likely to be able to offer the lowest ticket price, so this is probably a smart move.

    1. Just because it is cheaper to operate a 757 doesn’t mean you will get cheaper tickets… 777 or 757, the ticket prices will be nearly identical.

    2. Re the A320 transcon, UA does operate it as well as the A319 on nonstop transcons, including BOS-LAX. As for fares, in many years of industry-watching I’ve never seen a fare specific to an aircraft type, i.e., 777 vs 757 … with the exception of Concorde and jets in the early days. If the RPM is greater on the 757 than the 777, an airline will of course pocket the difference, not publish a lower fare. Imagine that you bought a 757-specific fare and then an aircraft change to a 767 was made on day of departure … would the airline charge everybody a last-minute fare increase at the gate because of a change of gauge? No way.

  24. I thought UA flew a few A320 A319 trascon Also I bet you all who say the new United wont keep E+ they will now at least on Int/ Ps flights aircraft because of Delta and what ever they call it. Also I think The new UA aircraft will still be Mision in-stead of distance because of the aircraft combos B757 With RR And PW B777 With PW and RR also 767s with the same combo of moters but who knows

    1. They do fly them transcon, but that doesn’t mean they can fly them a much greater distance to Europe or even to Hawai’i. Hawai’i flying requires significant additional fuel because you need to have enough to get back to land from the midpoint over the water on one engine at a low altitude.

      1. Right I knew that about the A319/320s and are all United’s 757 ETOPS or is it just the non-PS since PS is only to three cities and its only TransCon and you must of made all of United’s 757 Just Kiding but they all broke today something not sure what but all grounded

  25. The 757 is my least favorite aircraft. The only saving feature is the United Economy Plus section with more leg room. Even there, the seats are narrow and your potentially obese partner is right upon you. On long trips, I sleep, read, or listen to the radio. No need for crumby, edited-for-families movies. Thanks for the warning about the Continental 757s.

  26. Cranky,

    I believe that there was also an insurance related restriction post-9/11 which precluded UA from flying the 757 TATL. They had to keep them within a certain distance of the continental US.

    1. That would really surprise me since American flies 757s to Europe with ease. I don’t see why United’s would have been any different.

      1. Cranky – I think you misunderstood. Their insurance company put use/range restriction premium on the 757 fleet. These restriction precluded them from flying outside of the US.

        1. No, I didn’t misunderstand. I just don’t understand why United would have more restrictive insurance requirements on its 757s than American would or any other US airline for that matter.

          Can anyone confirm whether this is true or not? It just doesn’t sound right to me.

  27. “Airports base landing fees on max takeoff weight, so better need that extra weight if you’re going to bother having it.”

    To make a correction – as an airline finance person and P&F manager – just about all airports (at least on this continent) base landing fees on landed weight – and use a standard weight for an aircraft type, regardless of how many pounds your particular variant may actually weigh. For example, at ATL, it is 128,000 lbs for a 73G. Always.

    A very few use maximum gross take-off weight (such as PANYNJ) or have some sort of fee per aircraft that isn’t necessarily tied to weight (HPN comes to mind).

    1. Thanks for the clarification on weight measures, ATLguy. But airports are getting more and more sophisticated with this. The reason that airports use a single weight is because they haven’t had the data ready at hand to know exact weights. That’s changing. I know that airports that use PASSUR Aerospace Landing Fee Management [I used to write their newsletters] are now able to easily look up weights by tail number. So that’s going to be happening more and more, I would assume.

      1. I could even see them going with in taxi-way scales. Why bother when guessing when you can measure? Given that they can weigh full 18 wheelers as they’re going along the road at 65 mph, I doubt an airplane at 10 mph would be a problem..

          1. Scott, good point I didn’t think of that. I just presumed it was a normal ground based vehicle once it was on the ground…

            However, if you put a scale on a treadmill…

            Oh, sorry lets not go there..

      2. But given that just about all airports base on landed weight, not the maximum gross take-off weight in your example, is there really a cost there?

        Let’s use a practical example: As of January 2011, the landing fee at Washington Dulles is $3.35 per 1,000 lbs. And that’s landed weight. Even if it were off of maximum gross takeoff weight, that’s only another $50 per flight using your heavier example (and I’d assume landing weight is probably pretty close between the two aircraft). Is that a lot of money extra for being able to go transatlantic, or is that really a significant cost in the scheme of things? Who knows what the UA analysis came up with, if this were even part of it.

        1. Good question. Only the bean counters on the inside would know for sure, but it is something to throw into the evaluation to decide if it’s worth it or not. It may not be the biggest piece, but it is worth throwing in.

  28. One thing a lot of people seem to be glossing over is United’s widebody fleet. United has 91 international widebodies, whereas Continental has (I’m going by the Flab Bed seat installation page here), 75 total international planes, with only 34 of those being widebodies.
    So sure, United could add some of their 96 757s to the international fleet, but they would have to replace flights on domestic routes with internationally configured planes. The only reason I can see Continental management reregistering the UA 757s for the higher MTOW so that if they have issues with the CO ones they can fly a UA one. That brings up the issue of flying a domestic plane on an international route, which is fine for people in the back, but you would have some pretty pissed off people in the front.

    Don’t plan on any of the UA 757s being “upgraded” to Atlantic routes.

  29. UA 757s feel just like 1989, with those horrible flickering overhead aisle TVs and the single aisle cart-avoidance maneuver just to hit the can.

    This is 2011. Can’t we do better?

    1. I know, that is so sick. It’s sad to be so excited, considering it was a no brainer, but I was really worried about E+, not so much after Delta announcement.

  30. While everything that Cranky Flyer has said about the difference between a former Continental and a former United 757 is correct, he has missed several very important differences.
    First is the difference in the engines. While he is correct in the thrust difference, there is also a specific fuel consumption difference. The Rolls-Royce engines on the Continental aircraft have a lower specific fuel consumption than a comparable Pratt&Whitney engine. Therefore, all other things being equal, the Continental aircraft has greater range.
    Second is the winglets on the Continental aircraft. These were installed several years ago and were touted to give a 2-3% reduction in fuel burn. That estimate turned out to be incorrect; it has resulted in a fuel burn reduction of closer to 5%. This is huge when you are operating an aircraft at the maximum limit of it’s range.
    Last, and probably most important, many of United’s 757 aircraft are not properly equipped for ETOPS flights. That stands for (E)xtended range (T)win-engine (OP)eration(S). These are the regulations that govern flights by two engine aircraft on flights where the aircraft is more than 1 hour flying time from a suitable airport, such as a trans-Atlantic flight. Not all of United’s 757s have the required equipment to do ETOPS flights, and to bring them up to that level is very expensive, if not outright impossible.
    Not applicable to long range flying, but to landing, the former Continental aircraft are also equipped to make approaches and landings to the lowest landing minimums available, even without ground based components. A number of the former United aircraft can’t do that, and might therefore be unable to depart on a long trans-Atlantic flight if the weather at the destination is low. This would necessitate carrying extra fuel to get to an alternate airport far from the destination, something they just could not do.

  31. Your wrong…ua 757’s all have Pw 2040’s not 2037’s. .If your going to write an article… GET YOUR FACTS RIGHT!

    1. N501UA through N588UA and N591UA-594 have PW2037.
      Only the ERs have the PW2040: N589, 590, 595-598UA.
      If you are going to be so damn rude to your fellow man, get YOUR facts straight so you don’t embarrass yourself.

  32. “Now, United could upgrade its engines to PW2040 or PW2043 engines with more thrust with ease, but it chose not to do so. Again, the airline didn’t want to pay for what’s an easy technical upgrade.”

    It’s not that simple. United non-extended range 757-200s with 240,000lb MTOW can’t just be refitted with PW2043 and suddenly be ERs with a 255,000lb MTOW. They would have to recertify it with the FAA (if that is even possible). There may be structural differences also in the wing box structure.

    Also, new engines cost $6 MILLION dollars…. EACH.

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