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United Unveils New Domestic First Class Seats

United’s new domestic first class seat, unveiled on July 12, 2023 (Photo: United Airlines)

United Airlines is continuing the modernization of its narrowbody fleet with the introduction of a new domestic first class seat. The new seat features several improvements over the current product and is expected to debut later this summer.

The announcement comes just months after United began retrofitting its narrowbody fleet with new cabins. The Chicago-based carrier stated that it expects over two hundred aircraft to have the new first class seats by late 2026.

A Look at United’s New First Class Seat

The new product features winged headrests, a privacy divider between seats, five inches of recline and adjustable aisle arm rests. The seats are upholstered with vegan leather and have seat cushions designed by an ergonomist that sit one inch lower to accommodate a variety of passenger heights. The tray table has been made larger and is stored in the outer armrests of the seats to reduce passenger contact.

There will be three charging options at each seat: an AC outlet, a USB-C outlet and wireless charging. Wireless charging has been increasingly popular among new premium airline cabins, and the new seat is United’s first onboard product with wireless charging. The wireless charger is located in a compartment in the armrest.

United’s newly unveiled domestic first class seat features wireless charging (Photo: United Airlines)

The seats will also have a 13-inch high-definition seatback screen that with Bluetooth capability, allowing passengers to use their own headphones or earbuds. In an effort to improve accessibility, the airline has also included a remote for those unable to reach the touch screen.

United’s Narrowbody First Class Cabin Plans

A little over two years ago, United announced a new “signature interior” for its narrowbody jets. The announcement came alongside a massive order for 270 new narrowbody aircraft, consisting of a mix of Boeing 737 MAXs and Airbus A321neo aircraft.

New narrowbody aircraft delivered since the announcement – all of United’s Boeing 737 MAX 8s and some of its Boeing 737 MAX 9s – have the updated cabins, which feature larger overhead bins, in-seat power and seatback entertainment screens.

Product standardization across an airline’s fleet can be a challenge for large airlines like United, which has hundreds of narrowbody jets.

When narrowbody retrofits are completed in a few years, the airline’s narrowbody domestic first class cabins should have a uniform appearance with two similar but slightly different seats: the newly-announced iteration and the simpler version without the wireless charging, dividers and outer armrest tray tables.

This simpler version is already in service on a few retrofitted Airbus narrowbodies, the first of which re-entered service with United’s signature interior in May. According to the airline, the newest seats with wireless charging will be installed on Boeing 737 MAXs and Airbus A321neos.

Some Boeing 737 Next Generation aircraft will also be retrofitted with the latest seats. It is expected that the new first class seat will debut later this summer on a Boeing 737-800 registered as N73259, which has been undergoing interior modifications in Miami since May.

Meanwhile, Airbus A319, Airbus A320 and some Boeing 737 Next Generation aircraft will be retrofitted with the simpler version of the seats without wireless charging, dividers and outer armrests.

Andrew Chen

Author

  • Andrew Chen

    Andrew is a lifelong lover of aviation and travel. He has flown all over the world and is fascinated by the workings of the air travel industry. As a private pilot and glider pilot who has worked with airlines, airports and other industry stakeholders, he is always excited to share his passion for aviation with others. In addition to being a writer, he also hosts Flying Smarter, an educational travel podcast that explores the complex world of air travel to help listeners become better-informed and savvier travelers.

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