The 787 returns: Book United transcons very carefully beginning in June
This week, United Airlines confirmed a notable shift for its premium transcontinental flights, moving from a mix of internationally configured planes to the smaller (and far less exciting) Boeing 737, beginning on May 4. It’s a logical move given the unprecedented drop in demand, but, as a result, business-class passengers who were once guaranteed a lie-flat seat will have to settle for a standard recliner.
Fortunately, it’s now clear that United’s most advanced aircraft, the Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner, will return to at least two daily round-trips beginning in June, flying between Newark (EWR) and Los Angeles (LAX) and Newark and San Francisco (SFO) once every day. The rest of the flights will continue to be operated by much smaller narrow-body planes — likely the Boeing 737.
That means flyers traveling between New York City and United’s West Coast hubs will land either the airline’s posh Dreamliner, or an ordinary narrow-body jet — the experience truly couldn’t be any more different when it comes to a transcon United journey.
For example, here’s the business-class seat on United’s 787-10:
And here’s what you’ll find on the Boeing 737:
As of now, you’ll pay the exact same business-class fare, regardless of which seat you book — $690 each way is a reasonable price to pay for a “pod,” but not a tight recliner seat, especially when economy fares are so low. You’ll also face the same upgrade policy — complimentary upgrades won’t be available to elites, who need to redeem miles or use their valuable PlusPoints to move up to biz, instead.
So, for now, you’ll want to be extra careful when it comes time to book. You can identify the Dreamliner with the text “Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner” on the details tab, or with the long cabin with blue seats, arranged in a 1-2-1 configuration. If you see that, you’ve landed on a flight that’s scheduled to be operated by the 787, at least right now.
Unfortunately, the airline has yet to firm up its June schedule. Currently, United is selling more than two dozen daily flights between Newark and LAX and SFO, many of which almost certainly won’t operate as planned.
While you could wait a few weeks to book travel for June and beyond, this is also a good opportunity to make use of United’s waived-change-fee policy, which covers flights booked through April 30 — generally, I don’t recommended taking advantage, but if you’re certain you’ll need to travel in June and beyond, it could present a good opportunity to easily move to the “good” plane, once the carrier’s schedule is firmed up.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,650
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners
*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
- Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
- Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
- With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
- Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
- Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
- Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.