Lie-Flat Is Great, but I’ll Miss These Cradle Seats

I was hunting for a certain picture in my iPhoto album earlier and paused several times when I passed by each of my trips on United’s Premium Service (p.s.) Boeing 757s flying between New York’s JFK Airport and Los Angeles or San Francisco.

As you’re probably aware, United completed the redesign of the p.s. fleet earlier this month, and all aircraft are now configured with lie-flat seats in the BusinessFirst cabin. It’s certainly an upgrade, but if there’s one cradle seat and cabin I’m going to miss, it’s definitely the old p.s. business class offering.

a seat in an airplane

Seat 9A on United’s “old” p.s.

people sitting in chairs on an airplane

United p.s. row 9

The exit row (row 9) as pictured above was, of course, the most sought after seat location when flying in business class. And while there was a first class section on these aircraft, I’ve heard about several folks who declined an upgrade since they preferred the space and overall comfort of row 9.

a row of seats in an airplane

Row 9 legroom

It was pretty much a one-of-a-kind exit row, and I doubt that we’ll ever see anything like it again.

a group of people sitting in an airplane

United’s old p.s. business class cabin

a man taking a selfie

My selfie with a p.s. bird

R.I.P. old p.s. (2004-2013). You’re probably the only cradle seat that I’ll fondly miss.

I’ll likely be offline for most of the next few days enjoying Christmas with my family, and I hope your holidays are festive and enjoyable, too.

Merry Christmas!

Follow Darren Booth on Twitter, @FrequentlyFlyin, for more airline, hotel and travel industry news, reviews and opinions.


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  1. As an avgeek I loved it – something wonderfully arcane about the whole setup.

    But as a passenger who just got off the new config last night. The flat bed is a world of difference. Slept 4 hours on that flight, shortest transcon I’ve ever taken.

    • @Greg: I’d definitely want the flat-bed on a p.s. redeye for sure.
      @MSPpete: I never slept well in the cradle seats, but that’s because I’m a sleep-on-my-side guy 99% of the time and I could never get truly comfy.

  2. I actually sleep better on a flight in the old barcalounger/cradle seats than in many of the thinly-padded, narrow lie flats.

  3. merry christmas D!-
    random question dealing with airfares maybe you could help me with? I live in Brazil and im trying to get out of here during carnival. prices are obviously pretty jacked up to anywhere. BA is offering roughly $1500 non-stop GIG-LHR which is above my budget. They are also offering GIG-FCO through LHR for $1000. logically that means they should be willing to sell just the GIG-LHR legs for less than a grand. obviously logic doesnt really apply to airlines. what do you think? can i use hotwire or something to maybe get an $800 fare? any tricks up your sleeve?

  4. @Darren: I am a side sleeper, too. Most lie flats are too thinly padded and my shoulder and hips get sore. I end up sleeping on my back anyway. If I have to sleep on my back, I would rather elevate my head so I don’t snore!

  5. @Mike: Hope your Christmas was a good one! Fares, as you’ve seen, are dependent on many factors, so I’m not surprised to see the FCO fare lower even though it routes through LHR. I’ve never tried or know much about the Priceline or Hotwire bidding-type fares, but that might be a route to get you something under $1k. Otherwise, you may want to look into “fuel dumping.” I haven’t written about it, but Hack My Trip has several posts you might want to check out:

  6. United is not eliminating all of these cradle seats from its fleet. They’re refurbishing the PS C seats and installing them on 777-200 aircraft in first class for flights between Hawaii and ORD/IAH. See No row 9 exit row, unfortunately!

    Here is a pic of the refurbished PS seats, configured 2-3-2 on a 777-200:

  7. While I love the all lie-flat fleet on these routes, I too will miss row 9. I tried the old F once and ever since then I took row 9 if I could get it.

  8. Note these cradle seats are being refurbished and installed in 777-200 aircraft for ORD/IAH/EWR/IAD-HNL flights.

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