United Continental To Invest $500 Million in Lie-Flat Seats, In-Flight Entertainment, and More Overhead Bin Space
The planned improvements include adding lie-flat seats to 62 long-haul aircraft, bringing the total number of aircraft with flat-bed seats in the fleet to 185, more than any other U.S. airline. In addition, the company will continue its upgrades to its three-class Boeing 777 aircraft. Currently, 17 of 46 777s (the airline has 19 777-200s and 33 777-200ERs) have flat-bed seating and new in-flight entertainment systems in first and business class. More than one dozen 777s will be retrofitted in 2011.
Starting next month, United Continental will install all-new flat-bed seats along with on-demand audio and video programming plus iPod connectivity on 26 Boeing 767 aircraft, comprised of 12 Continental 767-400 aircraft and 14 United 767-300 aircraft. These airliners will serve trans-Atlantic, Latin American, and Hawaiian markets with BusinessFirst business class and economy cabins. The 767-400s from Continental will also get EconomyPlus seating with extra legroom and the Channel 9 air traffic audio channel which has been a fixture on United aircraft, allowing passengers to listen in to the cockpit crew’s interaction with air-traffic controllers during the flight.
EconomyPlus will be added to all Continental mainline aircraft to provide a consistent experience with United, which has EconomyPlus deployed throughout its fleet.
Other improvements include plans to deploy of streaming wireless video on its 747-400 aircraft once a vendor has been selected (American Airlines recently announced a trial of Gogo’s streaming video service ) and new overhead bins on Airbus 319 and 320 aircraft that will double the space available for non-checked baggage in the aircraft. The airline’s 152 Airbus single-aisle aircraft will also get new carpets and lighting.
The company’s so-called “p.s.” fleet of 13 757 aircraft that serve the New York to San Francisco and Los Angeles routes will be reconfigured with lie-flat beds in business class, an Economy Plus section, and a main cabin section. Every row will have power ports and each passenger will have access to Wi-Fi and on-demand audio and video services.