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United's bringing the Boeing 767-400ER back from long-term storage

March 26, 2021
3 min read
United's bringing the Boeing 767-400ER back from long-term storage
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In a matter of days, United will have at least one of every wide-body jet model back in the sky.

The Chicago-based carrier is taking a handful of Boeing 767-400ER jets out of long-term storage starting this weekend and into the busy summer travel season. These planes have been parked in Roswell, New Mexico, since March 2020, when the pandemic took hold in the United States.

There's no telling (yet) which exact tails are coming back, but N67052 recently exited storage and flew to Hong Kong (HKG), possibly for some sort of maintenance.

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Before the pandemic, the 767-400ERs were a workhorse for United on flights to Europe and South America. Once the pandemic decimated demand for long-haul flights, United opted to store these gas-guzzlers and instead use the more fuel-efficient Boeing 787 Dreamliner for its skeleton international network.

While analysts suggested that United could retire the 767 fleet, no one could've predicted that a chunk of the carrier's Boeing 777 fleet would be grounded. On Feb. 20, a Pratt & Whitney-powered United Boeing 777 suffered an uncontained engine failure, before landing safely minutes later.

The carrier has since grounded its 24 affected 777s, following a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) airworthiness directive requiring further engine inspections.

Related: How United Airlines gets its parked planes ready to fly again

To backfill for the high-density, 332-seat 777s, United will reactivate some of its parked 16 Boeing 767-400ERs.

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According to a carrier spokesperson, you'll find them primarily flying routes that used to be operated by the now-grounded Pratt & Whitney 777s. Cirium schedules show that United's planning two 767-400ER routes in May, between Newark (EWR) and both Houston (IAH) and San Juan (SJU).

The planes sport 39 lie-flat business class seats, 70 Economy Plus seats, and 131 economy seats, and represent a big upgrade for flyers. United's high-density 777s featured alternating forward- and rear-facing business-class seats arranged in 2-4-2 configuration.

The 39 lie-lat pods on the 767-400ER are all forward-facing in a 2-1-2 configuration. Coach passengers will likely prefer the 767's 2-3-2 arrangement, compared to 3-4-3 on the 777. Plus, every seat on the 767 sports an inflight entertainment monitor.

BIz seats on the United Boeing 767-400ER (Photo by Wallace Cotton/The Points Guy)

These ex-Continental planes are the only twin-aisle jet in the United fleet without the carrier's new Polaris biz or plans for a Polaris retrofit. They feature the Collins Diamond biz pods, whereas a majority of the shorter 767-300s are outfitted with the carrier's latest cabins. In fact, some of the 767-300s are in a "high-J" configuration, with a whopping 46 Polaris seats.

Of course, it's possible that these jets ultimately end up receiving the Polaris retrofit, or getting retired altogether. In the meantime, however, they're coming back for a second life with United.

Featured image by NurPhoto via Getty Images
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
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    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

    60,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $250
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

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  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees