United debuted their new narrowbody premium (first class) seat which week starts flying on a single Airbus A319 next week, continuing rolling out across the Airbus fleet in the fall (although the retrofit won’t be completed until 2017), and work will begin on ‘many’ 737s and 757s throughout 2016. It appears that while over 200 planes in United’s fleet will get the new seats not every narrowbody will have it. I assume that has to do with projected retirements from the fleet.
The seat appears to add half an inch of width compared to the current Airbus first class seat, at least that’s my read although United claims the cushion width represents a greater increase than that.
The seat’s tray table has a built-in tablet holder to let you keep working while you eat (hopefully therefore not getting frustrated when flight attendants don’t collect your tray in a timely manner, a reason I sort of got used to bad food on American from September through April since it meant I was more productive).
What I really would like to see is a tray table that pushes out as well as pulls in, and that swivels out so that you can get up from the seat even with a meal still on it.
One change is that when you recline the seat, the cushion moves forward which means it doesn’t take up as much legroom from the passenger in the row behind. That’s how American’s first class seats work on many 737s. The Airbus planes that don’t have a/c seat power get reconfigured first (thank goodness!).
Chris McGinnis says,
The most noticeable feature of the new seat is a granite-topped cocktail ledge on the center console. Designers said that the marble is more like a wafer than a block to keep weight down, but is mounted on a sturdy honeycomb-type material for durability.
There’s storage beneath the arm rest, something I’m also used to on several domestic American planes.
There are no video screens, United is moving to streaming video you can access on your own device. I’m fine with that, it saves the airline money and weight (and therefore fuel). I don’t miss using a seatback screen. My laptop’s battery will last over 8 hours even playing video and without darkening the screen. Not everyone chooses a technology solution meant to power themselves through multiple flights. So it’s good they’ll have a/c power for passengers. (There’s no USB power, however.)