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United Launches New p.s. Service from LAX-JFK

by on March 20, 2013 · 7 comments

in United

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It’s been a while since United announced they would be updating their entire 757 p.s.  Premium Services fleet, which the airline uses to service its transcontinental JFK-LAX/SFO routes – the airline flies 40 flights each way per week between JFK and LAX, and 46 flights each way per week between JFK and San Francisco. The first aircraft was scheduled to begin flying in March, and sure enough, yesterday it did with United flight 651 between Los Angeles LAX and New York JFK.

United's clean-cut infographic on the p.s. cabin enhancements.

United’s clean-cut infographic on the p.s. cabin enhancements.

As part of the overhaul, the airline is putting in regular economy seats and combining business and first class into a new cabin of BusinessFirst seats.

The new features of United’s refreshed p.s. product include:

  • 28 United BusinessFirst seats with 180-degree flat-bed seats with 6’4” of space when fully extended, and 15.4-inch entertainment monitors
  • 48 seats in Economy Plus with 36 inches of legroom and 9-inch entertainment monitors
  • 66 seats in United Economy with individual seatback 9-inch entertainment monitors
  • Complimentary in-seat audio/video on-demand entertainment with over 150 hours of programing
  • USB and standard 110v power outlets accessible from every seat
  • Gogo WiFi (coming later this year and the airline promises connection speeds up to 3x faster)
Here's what the new economy cabin looks like.

Here’s what the new economy cabin looks like.

As United constantly points out (anyone who’s been on a flight in the past year or so has seen Jeff Smisek talking about investing “more than half a billion dollars” in the fleet), this is all part of a larger $550-million investment the airline is making in its fleet, which includes adding flat-bed seating to all its 185 long-haul aircraft, adding Economy Plus to more than 300 aircraft (this part is almost done, just about two dozen aircraft remain), retrofitting its 150 Airbus aircraft, installing WiFi on domestic and long-haul aircraft and introducing streaming wireless video aboard its 747-400’s.

Although it’s exciting airline news, flying United p.s. over the next 9 months or so as it completes the renovation of its planes is bound to be a bit of a nightmare as flyers try to figure out which configuration they’ll get and how upgrades will work.

The business cabin will contain all BusinessFirst seats.

The business cabin will contain all BusinessFirst seats.

The best way to tell if you are on a reconfigured plane is to look at the seat map on united.com, which would show 28 seats in United Business. The seat maps will generally reflect the older configuration until a few months before departure, when they will have a better idea of what kind of aircraft will be scheduled for a specific flight. Keep in mind this is always subject to change though due to aircraft substitutions.

To try to minimize the impact on flyers, starting June 6, United is only going to sell p.s. flights as two-cabin flights instead of the actual three-cabin configuration on the remaining un-renovated aircraft.

To determine who will get first class on flights that still have not been updated from the old three-cabin configuration, the previous first class cabin will be reserved for customers who had previously booked in United First, as well as Premier members who are already confirmed in United business. Specifically, Global Services, Premier 1K, Premier Platinum and Premier Gold members can select one of these seats at any time if available, and Premier Silver members will have access to them at check-in. During the transition, these seats will be branded as United Business, rather than United First.

I have to say, I’m not sad to see the old first and business class go. I had a good experience flying United’s BusinessFirst product from Newark to Dublin in December – also aboard a 757 – and I found the layout to be sleek and contemporary whereas the old first and old business class cabins aboard the 757-200 p.s. transcontinental flights seemed dated and clunky.

Has anyone taken the new p.s. plane yet? Report on your experience below.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Adam E

    How many miles are required for a BusinessFirst upgrade versus an old Business class upgrade?

  • Jacques Revile

    Typical for US-Airlines: They call their Business-Class “FIRST”..
    And their US-Baseball Championship “WORLD-CHAMPIONSHIP”…..

  • thepointsguy

    Haha, never thought about the latter. But yes, how very egotistical of us!

  • thepointsguy

    Same…BusinessFirst is still business class.. just branded differently for “special” routes

  • DBest

    How do we best go about incorporating these flights into a *A award (either TATL or TPAC)? Is award availability the same for these flights as the old school biz class seats?

  • Bob

    I was on the flight from LAX to JFK yesterday in the business first cabin. I got the seat using only 25,000 miles for the one way ticket. I was not aware that it was for the reconfigured cabin. The entertainment system is a HUGE improvement, but I found the seats to feel claustrophobic compared to the old business and first class seats on this route. It is nice that the seats are new clean as the old ones were certainly getting very tatty, but the seats felt narrow and were not more comfortable than the old seats. For overnight flights, having the flat beds would obviously be a big improvement over the old seats. On a side note, I was served a raw steak when they ran out of my first (chicken) and second (pasta) choice entree. And then the steward offered me something from the economy menu and I chose some asian noodles which they were also out of. The flight attendants were very nice, but the service was very off and they seemed very discombobulated by the new configuration. On the whole, I was disappointed in the product after the all hoopla.

  • sruly

    What about the actual flight after June 6 will there be any difference in service btw business and first class ?

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