United to expand Economy Plus

Filed under Airlines, Airplanes, Travel
United to expand Economy Plus
By Julie Johnsson
Posted Thursday at 3:56 p.m.

The new United Airlines is keeping Economy Plus seating, one of the most popular features developed by the Chicago-based carrier prior to its 2010 merger with Continental Airlines.

United said Thursday that starting in 2012, it plans to retrofit Continental’s mainline aircraft and larger regional jets with the roomier economy seating.

In all, more than 700 mainline jets will be outfitted with the product, which features about five extra inches of legroom in the forward reaches of the economy cabin in United’s aircraft.
The move comes as a relief to many United frequent fliers, who had traded rumors about the popular offering’s fate since United and Continental announced they were merging in May 2010.

It’s the largest product changed unveiled to date by the recently merged carrier, which will keep the United brand but plans to choose the best of features both airlines. United now offers free alcohol and Wi-Fi in its passenger lounges, popular Continental offerings, and plans to rename the lounges United Clubs.

Unveiled by United in 1999 as a perk for elite frequent-fliers, Economy Plus evolved into a big source of revenue once other economy passengers could splurge to upgrade to roomier seating. Other airlines have followed suit, adding charges for more spacious bulk-head and exit-row seats. Delta Air Lines Inc. earlier this month said it would introduce a premium economy section on its long-haul international flights this summer that would feature four more inches of legroom and 50 percent greater recline than standard seating.

“Customers who sit in Economy Plus are significantly more satisfied with their travel experience, as are travelers who choose other options that enable them to tailor their travel to their liking,” said Jim Compton, chief revenue officer of United Continental Holdings Inc., the parent company of United and Continental airlines.

Read more about the topics in this post:
Business travel, Economy Plus

(Lindsay)

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