The first of United Airlines' upgraded PS ‘premium service’ flights between the east and west coasts of the US has finally taken to the skies.
The revamped Boeing 757s which shuttle business travellers between New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco have been fitted with new lie-flat seats in business class, in place of the worn-out old recliners.
United is rolling out the same BusinessFirst seat as Continental’s international-grade 757s.
Each of the 28 business class seats sport a 16 inch screen for video on demand (yes, United will finally discard those cumbersome Dig-E-Players) plus its own AC socket and USB port.
The extensive overhaul sees the first class dropped from PS flights and, more significantly, United will introduce PS economy class for the first time. Each PS flight will offer 66 cut-price seats with a tight 31-32 inches of pitch.
The number of Economy Plus seats drops from 72 in the current PS configuration to just 48, although these will gain an extra two inches of legroom, going up from a 34 inch to 36 inch pitch.
All Economy Plus and Economy seats will be fitted with 9 inch video screens and have access to AC and USB ports.
As each 757 hits the hangar for its refurb, the aircraft's inflight wireless Internet system is also being upgraded to GoGo’s latest 10Mbps service, which is better able to handle the higher useage load on these flights compared to the previous 3Mbps system.
United's put together a neat little infographic (shown below) to spell out what's new in PS – click here to download the file [300kb JPEG].
A mixed bag for business travellers
While the enhanced PS flights tick many boxes for the business traveller, US business travel reporter Chris McGinnis says it’s a mixed bag depending on your United MileagePlus status.
“It’s good news if you’ve got gold or higher status because the business class and Economy Plus experience will improve” McGinnis tells Australian Business Traveller.
“It’s bad news for silvers because they’ll have to pay a premium for Economy Plus on the new planes, or suffer for 4-5 hours in standard economy.”
Later this year will see American Airlines launch a spacious new first class on its transcontinental Airbus A321 service (below), which is based on the highly-regarded Cathay Pacific business class seat.
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