I recently was able to fly the new United Airlines domestic First Class on their Airbus A320 from San Francisco to Washington-Dulles. While I wrote a review of the flight, I feel like I didn’t focus enough on the new First Class seat – something that many of us will spend their time in while flying around North America.
United announced late last year about the introduction of a new domestic First Class seat and that it was going to be rolled out on their Airbus fleet first – starting early this year. Their Airbus fleet consists of only the Airbus A319 and A320. When the retrofit of these new domestic First Class seats is completed, over 200 United narrowbody aircraft will feature the new United Airlines domestic First Class seat:
- Airbus A319
- Airbus A320
- Boeing 737
- Boeing 757
A few notes on the aircraft where the seat will be installed on: the Airbus fleet doesn’t feature personal video monitors which is why they began to roll out the new seat on those aircraft (as the new seat doesn’t feature a video monitor). Most of United’s Boeing 737s feature a personal video monitor with DirecTV… so it will be interesting to see how they re-design the seat to accommodate the video monitor… I mean I don’t think they will get rid of the personal video monitors… that would be a huge mistake.
The Boeing 757s that will feature the new seat will most likely be the 757-300s as those don’t feature flatbeds and the majority of the 757-200s do feature flatbeds and the ones that don’t are scheduled to be retired soon.
The new United Airlines domestic First Class seat features the following:
- New, 6-way adjustable headrest
- Universal AC power
- Real granite cocktail tables
- Articulating seat base
- Tablet stand integrated into tray table
- Wider seats
- In-arm storage
- Signature leather seat design
The new seat
Is it comfortable? Yes, yes, and yes! The new seat is surprisingly comfortable (I don’t know if that is because it is still new) and I didn’t mind sitting in it for 5+ hours from San Francisco to Washington. The key feature that makes the seat more comfortable than the previous seat (or the seats on the B737s) is the new, slightly more comfortable material and the articulating seat base.
The seat is made from premium, signature leather material which is more comfortable than the previous material used. The fact that the seat base moves is a huge plus – it makes the seat much more comfortable.
The new 6-way adjustable headrest is also a plus, I was actually able to rest my head comfortably for the duration of the flight. The material used is soft and the headrest (for now) stays in place when adjusted.
The Universal AC power is a huge plus as the Airbus fleet features WiFi, but the old seats didn’t have power. To be honest, the integrated tablet stand is cool, but I wouldn’t use it. Reason being is that most tablets are still too slow for me to use and therefore I never travel with my iPad. I can see that it will be awesome for watching movies, but most people probably want to get work done during a domestic flight and will use their laptops.
I love the fact that there is more storage around the seat. In addition to two seatback pockets, there is in-arm storage under both armrests, and also a place for water bottles near the AC power. For now, all of the storage areas remain clean, but most likely as time goes on, these will be come dirty and I doubt anyone is going to want to place their laptop there.
The real granite cocktail tables are awesome – finally more place for drinks without having to take the tray table out. The new cocktail tray features two levels and therefore it supports up to four drinks per person, or three drinks and warm nuts.
The new seat is a huge improvement and I didn’t actually think that it would be this great. While it looks like a United Express First Class seat, it is actually much more than that – and definitely more comfortable. I’m very excited that United is starting to care more about their premium customers and upgrading their seats and amenities. I’m excited to see more of these seats in the sky!