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Inside United’s First 737 MAX 8, Featuring the Airline’s New Interior

AirlineGeeks writer Taylor Rains sitting inside United’s 737 MAX 8 engine (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Taylor Rains)

On Sunday, United Airlines received a brand new Boeing 737 MAX 8 jet to its fleet, delivered directly from Boeing Field to Newark Liberty International Airport. The aircraft was on full display at the company’s “United Next” event on Tuesday, which revealed details about its historic plane order and enhanced onboard experience. AirlineGeeks got the opportunity to attend the event and see the new signature cabin first hand, and we were not disappointed. Here’s what passengers can expect to see on United’s new narrow-body jets.

Newly delivered 737 MAX 8, registered N2725I, sits in a Newark hangar (Photo: Taylor Rains | AirlineGeeks)

New Cabin Configuration

One of the biggest updates to United’s aircraft is the number of premium seats in the cabin. The new 737 MAX 8s will have 16 United First and 54 Economy Plus seats running all the way back to the exit row, doubling the number of premium seats configured on competitor jets. United First offers a 37-pitch, economy plus has a generous 33-38-inch pitch and the 96 regular economy seats are situated with a slightly snug 30-inch pitch.

New 737 MAX 8 configured with 16 United First seats (Photo: Taylor Rains | AirlineGeeks)

United First seats feature large 13-inch TV screens (Photo: Taylor Rains | AirlineGeeks)

United First offers 37 inches of pitch (Photo: Taylor Rains | AirlineGeeks)

United Economy Plus 10-inch screens (Photo: Taylor Rains | AirlineGeeks)

Every United Economy seat will have complimentary seatback entertainment (Photo: Taylor Rains | AirlineGeeks)

While United First is one of the best premium products in the market, United’s Economy Plus cabin is more than spacious enough for flyers looking for a lower fare.

While United First is one of the best premium products in the market, United’s Economy Plus cabin is more than spacious enough for flyers looking for a lower fare.

Each seat will feature an “entertainment for all” seatback screen, which is designed to be accessible for the visual and hearing impaired. Furthermore, United is the first carrier to create Bluetooth-enabled inflight entertainment which can connect to wireless headphones. This is a game-changer for passengers who hate having to bring an adapter on their flights.

In addition to seatback screens, 100% of United narrow-body jets will offer under-seat power and WiFi. This includes United’s new aircraft and its current single-aisle fleet, all of which will be completely transformed by 2025.

All seatback screens have Bluetooth capabilities and are accessible for the visual and hearing impaired (Photo: Taylor Rains | AirlineGeeks)

Power ports will face passengers on new jets (Photo: Taylor Rains | AirlineGeeks)

Monumental Cabin Upgrades

United’s jets will have improved mood lighting to create a relaxed environment in the cabin. According to one of United’s inflight developers, the LED lights on each aircraft will have several settings for each phase of flight. It was explained that the lighting will vary during takeoff, landing, mealtime and sleep time.

Meanwhile, the overhead bin space has been increased to fit six full-size carry-on bags. United explained that the aircraft will have a one-to-one passenger-bag ratio, meaning every customer will have a space to fit their carry-on luggage. The carrier specifically designed the bins this way to reduce passenger anxiety and crowding at the gate. Furthermore, the design should also improve United’s on-time performance by eliminating the number of last-minute gate-check bags that commonly cause flight delays.

Overhead bins can carry up to six large carry-on bags (Photo: Taylor Rains | AirlineGeeks)

Improved Mobile App Offerings

In addition to a superior new product, United has also innovated its mobile app with several new features. First, the carrier added a “travel-ready” center that helps customers prepare for their flights. It includes important information like border restrictions, pre-departure forms and vaccine and Covid-19 testing requirements. It updates frequently, so passengers can have everything they need to know about international travel at their fingertips.

Another app addition is the Shop by Map. Like Google Flights or Kayak, United has created a map that will show customers the price of flights from a single airport to anywhere in the world. It also lets people filter their desired vacation destination, like beaches, mountains or national parks.

Shop by Map feature will help people more easily browse flights (Photo: Taylor Rains | AirlineGeeks)

The biggest innovation United made for its app is the live chat option. Passengers who need day-of-travel assistance can use the mobile app to connect with a customer service agent anywhere in the network. This will eliminate the need to call the phone center or stand in line at the airport help desk. Communication can be done via chat or live video, or passengers can choose to provide their phone number and receive a call when an agent is available.

The video chat feature is particularly unique, aimed at showing customers United cares about them and wants to help when things go wrong. It also gives passengers peace of mind because they know they are talking to a live person, not a robot.

For any day-of-travel issues, passengers can live chat with a customer service agent from their phone (Photo: Taylor Rains | AirlineGeeks)

Overall First Impression

Overall, United’s new 737 MAX 8 jet has an impressively lavish interior that would make even regular economy bearable for longer flights. The seatback screens will make it competitive with Delta, keeping passengers occupied for hours.

Meanwhile, the updated app gives people a lot of tools to get help when needed and acts as a one-stop-shop for any Covid-related information, like entry restrictions and health requirements. United hopes these customer-focused enhancements will make it the airline of choice for travelers in the post-pandemic world.

Taylor Rains


  • Taylor Rains

    Taylor Rains graduated from Florida Institute of Technology with a B.S. in Aviation Management in 2017. She has worked in the aviation industry for the past five years and has a specialty in safety analytics for part 121 airlines, but she has also worked for a part 135 company in Alaska. Her experience has allowed her to work in many areas of aviation, including airport operations, flight operations, security, inflight, dispatch, and maintenance. Taylor is also an avid traveler and has used her flight benefits to fly on as many airlines and aircraft types as possible. So far, her favorite flight has been aboard KLM’s Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

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