United Airlines announces $550 million investment in cabin improvements

Just released, United Airlines announces they will invest more than a half-billion dollars for cabin enhancements fleetwide. Here’s the shortlist of improvements:

According to CEO Jeff Smisek:

Additional items to note and questions that remain:

  • The release states United will add flatbed seats to, “14 United 767-300 aircraft.” This sounds like they’ll convert some of the “ghetto bird” domestic 767s to premium cabin international configurations, since all current international 767s have flatbed seats.
  • Channel 9 air traffic control communications will come to Continental’s 767-400 aircraft, and eventually be found on 300 Continental aircraft.
  • Conversions of the remaining unmodified 777 aircraft are continuing with more than a dozen slated to be completed this year.
  • Economy Plus will be seen on Continental aircraft beginning this fall with 38 birds planned to be finished by year-end. Another 100 will be converted by the end of the first quarter of 2012.
  • Overhead space will be nearly doubled on Airbus A319 and A320 aircraft with newly designed compartments. This will begin in March 2012.
  • Streaming in-flight entertainment and Wi-Fi will come to the 747 fleet, enabling access to video options on our mobile devices. It is unknown if this will include internet access, but I’d have to think so.
  • The premium service fleet (JFK-LAX/SFO) will be overhauled beginning next year by installing flatbed seats, power ports at every row, on-demand audio and video and Wi-Fi service. The configuration of these aircraft will change to include 26 seats in Business (or maybe they’ll brand it BusinessFirst as a true First Class cabin will vanish), and 114 seats in Economy, including Economy Plus.

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