United Announces JFK Premium Service Reconfiguration Update

I haven’t been on Flyertalk in a few days and just noticed a new update UA Insider posted on Friday related to the premium service (p.s.) fleet operating between JFK-LAX/SFO. In case you missed it too:

The first aircraft to be reconfigured is already in modification and will take to the skies by March. Over the subsequent 8-9 months we will complete the transition, but during this period, there will be a mix of B757 aircraft flying on these routes. Since the configurations are very different, we will be taking some steps to ease us through the transition and minimize the impact of aircraft changes. Here are some of the highlights:

  • All p.s. flights will operate as 2-cabin regardless of actual configuration starting on Jun. 6. By the summer, we expect to have already reconfigured several B757 aircraft. However, in order to minimize the impact of unexpected substitutions, we will only sell p.s. flights as 2-cabin. We will update our systems this weekend to reflect this change.
  • Wondering about who gets to sit in those first three rows in the previous United First cabin? We’re reserving these seats for customers who had previously booked in United First, as well as Premier members who are already confirmed in United Business. Specifically, Global Services, Premier 1K, Premier Platinum and Premier Gold members can select one of these seats at any time if available, and Premier Silver members will have access to them at check-in. Note that during the transition, these seats will be branded as United Business, rather than United First. Nearer to the end of the reconfiguration process, we’ll start marketing the premium cabin on all aircraft as United BusinessFirst.
  • How to tell if you’re on a newly configured aircraft. The best way to know is to look at the seat map on united.com, which would show 28 seats in United Business. However, keep in mind this is always subject to change. Also worth noting, seat maps will generally reflect the older configuration until a few months before departure, when we start to have a better idea of what kind of aircraft will be scheduled for a specific flight.
  • The Global First Lounge at JFK is scheduled to remain open after June 6, welcoming Global Services members seated in United Business on p.s. flights, as well as customers on connecting United Global First itineraries. We’ll share more information about the future of our lounges at JFK later this year.
  • Upgrade policies are the same. You can still request an upgrade on p.s. using RPUs, GPUs and award miles. And, we continue to waive the co-pay for Premier members requesting MileagePlus Upgrade Awards.

So, as with other fleet conversions, it’ll be a crapshoot up until nearly departure time as to whether you’ll get a new bird or old one. I do like the fact that United is opening up pre-selection of seats in the former First cabin if you hold a business class ticket beginning June 6 and end up flying on an old configuration. And I wonder what “we’ll share more information… later this year,†means about the United Club at JFK in that second to last bullet. Hopefully it means a refresh and perhaps expansion.

Here’s what a new Boeing 757 p.s. seat map looks like should you draw one on an upcoming flight (I wonder if 20ABC have the same legroom as 20DEF with that closet directly in front?):

a map of a plane

United’s announcement on Flyertalk also mentions an update about the p.s. fleet will soon be coming to their United Hub website in the coming days. It’ll probably be identical, but I’m hoping for a few pics of the new interior.


  1. I would expect both sides of row 20 to have similar amounts of legroom. There is an additional galley at 2R that is not on the left side of the plane. Although the seatmap shows the rows to be aligned, i doubt that is the actual configuration. I suspect the closet at the rear of the J cabin is sized to allow the Y cabin to start at the same point.

  2. I’ve been seeing flights this month on UA’s web site with both configurations…based on the seating map. So their statement isn’t true about two cabin, if you book economy you’ll get economy if it’s the new config, not E+.

    So you may want to book the older plane while you can if you are booking economy.

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