United is Evaluating a New Business Class Seat!

New United business class seats! A reader (who would like to remain anonymous) passes along an email from United gauging his interest in demoing a new international business class seat that United is considering.

You’re one of our most valued customers, and your perspective on the United travel experience matters greatly to us. We would like to invite you for an in-person exclusive event at the Boeing Dreamliner Gallery to try a few aircraft seats we’re prototyping and let us know what you think.

We are conducting research next week right outside of Seattle, and would like to invite you to participate for one day or night in a simulated flight experience to test new BusinessFirst seat prototypes. If selected, you would be invited to participate in a 9-hour overnight “flight” with a few other individuals or a 3-hour daytime focus group.

All travel, hotel and transportation will be provided by United. Additionally, we will be booking exclusive VIP tours of the Boeing manufacturing facility, if interested

Come next week there should be leaks on the particulars of this new United business class seats.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »


  1. I’ll believe it when I see it on actual planes used by actual passengers.

    In a less cynical vein – and with apologies and sympathy to economy passengers who deal with far more discomfort than First World problems involving business class seats – could it be that United is actually feeling competitive pressure from American and Delta to come up with something better than it’s eight-across cattle car arrangement?

  2. Knowing united in the effort of cost savings, they’re probably trying to go for 7 across on the 787 and 767 and will call it a “change we’re going to like!”

  3. Any chance the bicycle-style seat recently pitched by Airbus could be one of the new Boeing prototypes?

  4. Where do I sign Up 🙂 (I realize it’s by Invitation only) sounds like a lot of fun. will UA fly the folks out in 1st class?

  5. hmpf.

    As much as an improvement in the hard product is nice, I would prefer if UAL would direct more attention to makeing other aspects – food quality, lounge quality, customer service, etc., associated with premium travel.

  6. Yes about time, I think they probably need a premium economy offering on their longest range aircraft as well. Having nothing between $1000 an $10000 is leaving money on the table, as anyone who can afford say $2000 goes to your competitor.

  7. The current seat hardware is perfectly fine – the biggest problem is the cabin layout which does not provide aisle access to everyone. Except for the 787s, it is impossible to fly UA business class without having someone step over their neighbor to access the aisle (or being stepped over).

    The other major fixes that I would recommend are adding storage areas (the BA slide out floor tray is great for storing small items when sleeping) and soft product improvements such as on demand meals (if Virgin can do it in economy than UA should be able to do it for C).

  8. I disagree with many of the comments. First of all, all the former continental planes have a 2-2-2, 2-1-2 or 2-2 seating layout that is very comfortable. Yes you have to climb over somebody sometimes, but that is hardly that big of an inconvenience. I mean, how many times do you have to go to the bathroom?
    The food I’ve had on UNited flights has been top-notch – leagues better than on Delta where it is quite mediocre, and where the seats are worse as well (have not flown American long-haul, I know their new seats are supposed to be great). Lufthansa is one of the worst business classes in the world in my opinion. Alitalia and some of the Asian carriers I’ve flown are better in terms of the seats and food and service – but the IFE systems are often a problem, with poor selections. The United one is not bad at all. Please remember too that the United seats were put in over 5 years ago, at a time when no other US airline was offering decent lie-flat options, and the standard of seats was different.

    As far as the 2-4-2 layout on former United planes are concerned, I used to avoid them but when I finally flew them recently, was surprised that I actually prefer them! Climbing over your neighbor is much easier in those planes since there is more space to stand in front of your own seat. The seats are longer (albeit narrower) and I slept like a baby – perhaps the best sleep I’ve ever had on a plane. The IFE is also better with bigger screens. The lack of any storage is my biggest criticism.
    More importantly, they are able to cram a lot of seats on those flights, which is great if you’re hoping for upgrades and award seats. You can’t have your cake and eat it too.

    Anyway, I think the seats are good enough for now but I am of course curious to see what happens and hope they’ll install even better ones eventually.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *